What if a single drawing could somehow contain within it all the movement, energy and endless twists and turns in the entire world. Well, that's the rather ambitious goal of artist Benjamin Sack, who, with the help of his 0.05 Staedtler pigment liner pen, crafts dizzying fictional cityscapes that throb and pulse with the energy of an actual universe, or even a living organism.
Sack's inkscapes can take anywhere from a single day to 9 months to complete, with canvases stretching up to over 12-feet long. His meticulous depictions, combining architectural elements from eras stretching from antiquity to a sci-fi future, resemble a cartographic mashup of New York City and "Game of Thrones."
For Sack, architecture isn't just his subject matter, it's his medium. "Architecture is my paint," he explains in his statement, "and like paint it must be flexible. My intention with the use of architectural forms is to draw along the line of realism and abstraction. When given bits of information we are able to string them into a pattern and thus something recognizable and meaningful. What happens when the information you are given is as dense as a city? What happens to you?"
With incredible endurance and attention to detail, Sack renders urban jungles that shrink and grow before your eyes. Stare at one for long enough and it will become an optical illusion of sorts, as certain details move in and out of focus. Think M.C. Escher with a cartography degree. "Simply, my style is a bunch of lines and dots made out of wet, black ink," Sack told The Huffington Post. "Since two years of age I’ve been drawing, polishing my draughtsmanship. This time has yielded a patience that allows me to compose my dots and dashes into complex and imaginative forms that best suits my vision." He also added "I guess you could say... my style is sober patience."
When it comes to artistic inspiration, Sack's influences vary in style and period as fiercely as his artworks do. He references artists including Michelangelo, Da Vinci, Canaletto, Picasso, Kandinsky, Chagall, Matthew Ritchie and Julie Mehretu as influences. Yet beyond the fine arts, classical music plays a crucial role in Sack's process. "Perhaps my greatest inspiration comes from classical music, particularly the works of Gustav Mahler," he explained.
"It's a bit cliché to say but the music gave me completely new eyes. Mahler also has a quote that I’m particularly found of: 'A symphony should be like the world, it must contain everything.' If you’re familiar with his music, the quote will resonate. For me, I replace the word 'symphony' with 'drawing' and what you have there is pretty much my manifesto."
With the detail of a hyperrealist and the originality of a surrealist, Sack shows how painstaking technique and free-flowing imagination can coexist, with hypnotic results. See Sack's visual symphonies below and watch as solid cities give way to the ebb and flow of the viewer's interpretation. Let us know your thoughts on these otherworldly maps in the comments.