Dizzying Chinese Landscape-Style NYC Subway Illustrations

July 31, 2013 | Julia Dawidowicz

While many of us spend our daily subway rides in a zombie-like haze, desperately using our smart devices to zone out the annoyances of fellow commuters, NYC-based Chris Russell makes art. He’s spent the past three years filling 8 accordion-style sketchbooks with illustrations of the subway’s swarm of faces to create his series “Foolish Behavior in the House of the Gods.”

Placing an unending stream of subway riders in the sublime stylistic context of traditional Chinese landscape painting, ‘Foolish Behavior’ complicates the everyday mundanity of the commute. The viewer is prompted to rethink her fellow subway riders, considering them not as the person who took her seat or is talking too loud or as one hardly noticeable within the throng, but as entire narratives in and of themselves.

With faces that blur together, some more vivid and filled in while others appear as mere traces, Russell’s drawings really capture the way we selectively perceive only certain details when our senses are overloaded. Awesome.