By on February 13th, 2016
Sloan Nota collage

Love Lost by Sloan Nota, collage. Copyright Sloan Nota. via artist’s collection.

I discovered both myself and my art while making impromptu collages. Paper, x-acto and glue, books and magazines. Excellent images on paper more beautiful than newsprint. Later I moved on to photomosaics — images from my camera butted up in a tight grid. The grid form pushed me to create images which flowed across the grid lines and stole your attention from them. If you savored my image you could not focus on the grid, and vice versa.

I was playing with those two artforms far in the back of my mind when ‘click’ I saw the fundamental difference between them. Fundamental. Collage lets you paste a smaller image on a background image. If a tractor besmirches your glorious landscape, paste a swan on top of it.

Sloan Nota art

The Persistence of Memory, by Sloan Nota. Photomosaic (built from original photos of the Lions in Trafalgar Square, London). art copyright Sloan Nota. via the artist’s personal collection.

Collage is a 3d artform. Yes its made from materials commonly thought of as 2d, but when one image can block another that is a 3d phenomenon. Its not available to you in a photomosaic which gives the artist nowhere to hide the nasty bits — the off-tune detail that will skew the meaning of your completed work, the deodorant ad, the moldy vegetable.


Horse and rider from Horemheb's tomb, ca 1325 BC. via pinterest.

Example of low relief.  Horse and rider from Horemheb’s tomb, ca 1325 BC. via pinterest.


'Grant',_bronze_sculpture, by William_Rudolf_O'Donovan; horse, _Thomas_Eakins. via,_bronze_sculptures_by_William_Rudolf_O%27Donovan_(men)_%26_Thomas_Eakins_(horses),_1893-1894,_Grand_Army_Plaza,_Brooklyn,_New_York_City.JPG

Example of high relief. ‘General Grant, ‘ bronze sculpture, by William_Rudolf_O’Donovan (Grant); Thomas Eakins (horse).  via


Tang Horse and Rider, Chinese ceramic. via collectingchineseceramics

Example of fully 3d art, art in the round.  Tang Horse and Rider, Chinese ceramic. via collectingchineseceramics.


Here’s a quick synopsis of my view of the Dimensions. Not a physicist’s understanding but an instructive play with semantics.

This sheet of business paper is the epitome of 2D, yes, width x length. But what if the paper’s for watercolorists? Then it has dimples, surface texture, a 3D aspect.  I think of this 2d/3d region as bas-space, a continuum that begins with flat flat 2d. That surface develops 3d qualities with texture, or that favorite detective story clue, the impression emphatic writing makes on the sheet below. Shade over that with a pencil and you can read what the evildoer wrote. 3d emerging from 2d again. Or complicating it.

In reliefs 3d can build incrementally and logically outward from mere etching to low relief to high relief — and now imagine a kind of duct-tape-removal sound as it pops away from its substrate. Sculpture in the round.

Linguistically rich turf. We throw around the terms 2d and 3d as if we knew them, as if we knew the difference between cabbages and plums. But when you think about origami, a rolled newspaper, a once-folded sheet with a minor faint crease — it can be rewarding to ponder the nuances.

And here I stop, a step away from topology, from tesseracts, Klein bottles, Mobius strips. Because to think about these you must plant your feet on very different turf.


All this ensues from my blogpost of February 4, Architectural Message of Chartres Cathedral. Architecture is usually spoken of as a 3D artform, rooms, domes, stairways. Volumes.  But humans are necessarily smaller scale. In order to interact with architecture you must approach it, meander in it, tire of its lengthy halls. Thus the 4th dimension time becomes part of what an architect must design for. You don’t route traffic to the throne room through the scullery.

Likewise grand public architecture taxes the architect with producing the right silhouette.  A fortress from a distance should look grim and intimidating, a palace must show luxe even far off on the horizon. Architects are employed to understand these messages and to deliver them.

Sculpture in the round also has this 4D aspect.  If you see the Nike of Samothrace from the front you may guess the backside but you have to walk around it to be sure the sculptor hasn’t add a tail.

Also last week I also spoke of barn-raising in 1800s America, how it took a community to accomplish the feat.  Then after the work came dancing and feasting, festivities where humans made merry together. And thus wove a deeper community.

Today as you drive across rural America many of these structures are slumped sideways, abandoned. Yet think of the planning and sweat that went into these massive buildings.  Interesting that hardly any houses which would have gone with the barns are seen from the road. Houses are flimsier. They didn’t tap such a widespread community in order to rise. A community now morphed and unrecognizable.



By on August 24th, 2012

I want to share some of my new adventures with the 3d scans that were done of me at SIGGRAPH this month.  Because I want to work with them fast I’m staying inside the 3d capabilities of Photoshop Extended.  The idea is to wring them dry until my urge to work with them in a full-blown 3d program overcomes my resistance to learning one.  At least adequately enough to make totem poles out of various shapes.  Combine and manipulate them.

First try was to build up a set in which each iteration moved a bit east and at the same time turned in space.  I was hoping to combine the 3d layers and get a face that fanned out in a turning wave a la Futurism.  Without the violent urges.

fanned out as separate 3d layers

 the 2d merges started with the faces on the left…

Something I don’t understand yet in Photoshop did something odd when I used the command to merge 3d layers.  It took away the rotation in space but did preserve some of the lateral movement: hence a 3-nosed me looking in only one direction.  This is new to some  people so I want to be clear.  You see the heads in the top image are each rotated in space — they’re facing to look in different directions.  When I combined their layers the copies all aligned with the original, they spun back to that orientation.

I think when I try again I’ll do several things differently.  Especially I won’t clone the head to make iterations, I’ll reimport the scan for every separate layer.  A hunch, but it’s important to keep working the images so….

… I took the 3-nosed file, rotated it in apace and applied some Photoshoppery.  Then I started off in a new direction.

The idea here is to build up a kind of hilly landscape by grouping one scan in numerous positions

Here it starts moving toward art, not just techniques.  These images are quite large (5400 x 3000 pixels) so you lose important detail here.

And then on to this — not a bit 3d– that started with a version of the two heads (just above) but I was playing with the negative space around them.  If you look in the bottom-right quadrant  you’ll make out my profile in the red shape, forehead, nose, lips sliding out of view.  First it was about trying pattern fills on each side.  Then I found these B+W nude distorts and tried them.  (Older distortions done with Filter Forge.)  Gratuitous weird.  So I took me out, and it bloomed into something quite different.

Which is how I work — pulling together images I’ve made in the past, in various programs, adding clipart, changing, combining.   And now adding 3d scans.

What a wonderful world to be a digital artist in.