Study for the Replication of the Earth’s Surface – Broken White and Study for the Replication of the Earth’s Surface – Black are 2 editioned images that the artist had printed from the same plate. The works vary in color and format but both represent the map of the city of Johannesburg from different viewpoints. Although there are no street names, the area where JAG is situated almost becomes a target icon, and a keyhole-like image formed by the Joubert Park layout suggests this area as the ‘key to the city’. The visual puns seem less obvious when the optical illusion, created by the black blocks offset by the white roads, takes over. Strange grey dots begin to vibrate at each intersection, suggesting some kind of movement. The phenomenon of the dots is used to illustrate a metaphor about urban space experienced in the actual streets in these areas where congestion is ever present.
The act of constructing buildings upwards is a way of replicating the earth’s surface by stacking one portion of the floor above the next, hence the title. Hobbs usurps the standard technique of mapping out the city block to road ratio, in order to talk about a fleeting urban experience. The mark on the artwork extends beyond the surface to the actual surroundings it depicts. Stephen Hobbs’ main concerns in his art revolve around highlighting the pleasure of curious looking and imagining the city with, in this case, JAG as the focus. His use of optical illusions and perspective also play major roles in helping the viewer to re-image the object or image at hand. This magic-realist way of seeing aims to create different ways of experiencing a space. This image was created with a block out and aquatint and was printed on black paper using Intaglio Printmaker white etching ink.
Collaboration and proofing done by Master Printer Jillian Ross and Mlungisi Kongisa