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Invisible to Human
Procreate

Emi Le's artwork, "Invisible to Human," is one of those deceptively simple pieces of art that reveals more, and poses more questions, the longer you look at it.

There are so many intriguing things about it. Its title makes me stop and think as I focus on the strange, many-limbed creature on the right. Maybe the human astronaut can’t see it, even with their flashlight apparently focused on it, but I get the feeling it can see the human–the subtitle could be "Visible to Alien"! I find my eye constantly drawn into that big, single eye with its blue center, one of the only colorful things amid the different shades of gray.

Looking at the whole image, I love the way Emi has used diagonal planes of light and dark to illustrate what is visible to each of the figures, and what is not. The alien’s tentacle vanishes into the blackness of the human’s experience, while the human steps forward into what they perceive as lonely darkness, somehow behind and unable to see the presence of the creature the viewers are so aware of in the foreground. The different degrees of dark keep the mood somber and somehow secretive.

One of the things that gives the image power is the strong sense of a story behind it. How did either of the creatures get here? Will the astronaut walk behind the alien, or right into it? Will the alien turn around and move those tentacles around the astronaut, or will they just glide past one another, the alien remaining forever "invisible to human"? It’s mysterious, and just a bit sinister.

The Activity

Click on the link to see a higher resolution version of "Invisible to Human". Spend at least 5 minutes studying the image, observing the details discussed in the paragraph above and noting your own thoughts about the use of color, perspective, dark and light, the outlines, the shapes. How does the image make you feel? What story is it telling you? What is it about the way the image is made that makes you feel those feelings or understand that story?

Think, too, about the impact of the medium on the art. Emi used a program called Procreate, which is a piece of digital drawing software for iPads. There are many other digital art programs, some of which are free of charge. If you have access to one of those devices or programs, use this project as a chance to experiment with what you can do. If not, use your favourite pencils or pastels to make your work.

Imagine your own scenario in which a human and an alien encounter one another. What happens? Think about who can see what (the human, the alien, the viewer of the art), and try to show the different perspectives. Tell your story and create your mood with your use of line, color, perspective, and light.

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