The Miniature People That Populate Cities

Global street artist Slinkachu captures the loneliness and humor of life with model train people.

Social media may be isolating us; or it may just be another barely effective kind of resistance against the atomism and anomie that are endemic to the modern world.

But Slinkachu — the U.K. street artist who previously brought you the Inner City Snail Project — is no more invested in arguing about the causes behind the modern condition than he is in arguing for "solutions" to it. What he's interested in is expressing the solitary, uncertain side of contemporary life — and inviting people both to recognize themselves in it and to share in some common self-deprecating irony about it.

For the Little People Project, which he started back in 2006, Slinkachu has been remodeling and painting miniature model-train-set figures, leaving them on the streets of cities around the world and photographing them. "The street-based side of my work plays with the notion of surprise and I aim to encourage city-dwellers to be more aware of their surroundings," he says. "The scenes I set up ... aim to reflect the loneliness and melancholy of living in a big city, almost being lost and overwhelmed. But underneath this, there is always some humour. I want people to be able to empathise with the tiny people in my works."

Here are some examples, collected the new book, Global Model Village ...

The Food Chair

Gui Jie (Ghost Street), Beijing, China, 2011

See many more of these compelling photos over at The Atlantic.

Slingkachu's exhibit at the Broome Street Gallery in New York runs through this week. All images courtesy of Slinkachu.



About the Author

  • J.J. Gould is the editor of More

    He has written for The Washington MonthlyThe American ProspectThe Moscow Times, The Chronicle Herald, and The European Journal of Political Theory. Gould was previously an editor at the Journal of Democracy, co-published by the Johns Hopkins University Press and the National Endowment for Democracy, and a lecturer in history and politics at Yale University. He has also worked with McKinsey & Company's New York-based Knowledge Group on global public- and social-sector development and on the economics of carbon-emissions reduction. Gould has a B.A. in history from McGill University in Montreal, an M.Sc. from the London School of Economics, and a Ph.D. in politics from Yale. He is from Nova Scotia.