By on April 2nd, 2013

This is a third episode of Smithereens part 1 & part 2 that I posted before going to New York.

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Here are two artforms worth pondering together.   They are joined by a tenuous leather shoulder strap, photography.  Beyond that they’re as far separated as cloudscapes and rock bands.  Even time gets weighted differently.

Martin Klimas, Germany

3crash by Martin Klimas       via Empty Kingdom

In his work with Porcelain, Klimas uses a strobe light and a single camera frame; one chance of the figurine dropping and shattering. In his series Flowers, a spring-fired projectile bursts the base of the vase into a bedlam of fragmented pieces. In each photograph, Klimas shows the transformation of solid object into one that is in between, a temporary sculpture that comes together for a moment…          via Foley Gallery

The figurines are dropped from three meters.  The sound when they hit triggers a shutter release.  Klimas gets one image per destruction — how the piece explodes is unique.  His art is the photograph, a high-speed grab of a reality the eye couldn’t follow.  I’m showcasing only martial-arts examples because I find them more emotionally complex.  Perhaps if his single figurines were part of ceramics with two or more figures we’d have the pleasure of seeing them interact.

Of course it’s quite possible that the ceramics company doesn’t group non-combatants.

5crash by Martin Klimas

1crash by Martin Klimas

And the vases…

Breaking vase by Martin Klimas        via his website

 

 Breaking vase by Martin Klimas

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Milk Coronet, 1957, by the father of split-second photography Harold Doc Edgerton    via the Drawing Life blog

 This blog seems to often look at artforms and artists for whom time is part of their media.  Painters brush on pigments but in precious few paintings does the artist’s time spent at the easel say anything to the viewer.  Invisible.  Not so with images caught in splinters of time.  Or across timespans, as in the light painting we’ve looked at.  A trope of modern life is that we see things our forbearers couldn’t have.  One nanosecond state as an object smashes.  What light looks like when layered over more time than the eye can hold onto.

Self Portrait Cubism 1, 1987  by Vicki DaSilva    via her website

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Balanced rocks 2012-1211 by Michael Grab    all photos here via Gravity Glue

Michael Grab, United States

Michael Grab began balancing rocks in 2008 and has developed phenomenal skills.   He explains his work on his website Gravity Glue:

The most fundamental element of balancing in a physical sense is finding some kind of ‘tripod’ for the rock to stand on. Every rock is covered in a variety of tiny to large indentations that can act as a tripod for the rock to stand upright, or in most orientations you can think of with other rocks. By paying close attention to the feeling of the rocks, you will start to feel even the smallest clicks as the notches of the rocks in contact are moving over one another.

Parallel to the physical element of finding tripods, the most fundamental non-physical element is harder to explain through words. In a nutshell, I am referring to meditation, or finding a zero point or silence within yourself. Some balances can apply significant pressure on your mind and your patience. The challenge is overcoming any doubt that may arise.

It’s unusual for any practitioner — artist, baker, brake mechanic — to create a spiritual practice from their work.  Grab is pretty convincing when he claims it.  You sense the rare stillpoints he creates with rocks that are much more likely to tumble, the patience this demands, the inner sinew he builds as he begins again.

Balanced rocks 2012-1259

 The sounds, Klimas’s and Grab’s.  The sharp report of fired clay hitting floor, the ceaseless tonal fabric of wind and flowing stream.  And when Grab’s camera catches racing water it blurs and softens it — his motionless sculptures sit in floods of time.  The art of shutter-speed.

Some of Grab’s rock works seem anthropomorphic.  Maybe not his intent, maybe it sometimes is.  Where he positions them is part of his practice.  Perched at the edge of a small rapids, framed by a massive rock sculpture that nature made.

Balanced rocks 2012-1049

Balanced rocks 2012-1342

All images are from his 2012 series, the numbering seems to have started at 1000.  As you move through his portfolio — which I hope you will — you understand time as the canvas his thoughts and moods unfolded across.

Balanced rocks 2012-1240

It pleases me greatly to include this wonderful image from an artist at work.  The art is in the balance, not the rocks.

Balanced objects 2012-1002

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look further:

Martin Klimas

Michael Grab

Time and Imagery



By on October 11th, 2012

This is the third in a series about photography techniques that provide artistic distortions.

 Dali re-constructed, a slitscan photo  by Duncan Creamer       via his Flickr page

 I fell in love with this photograph and asked the artist where he took it, thinking a Chinese New Years parade.  Good thing I asked.  Duncan Creamer’s explanation makes a great primer for slitscan effects.

It was actually shot with my iphone 3Gs on my back deck. The vertical bars are the light shifting as it filtered through the trees and the horizontal lines are the stucco on the house. I put the small Dali sculpture on a rotating base to get this shot.

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 Here’s another way to understand slitscan.  To read what’s going on in this image start at the right.  As our car pulls up at a stop light there’s a red car ahead of us and in the left lane.  The wide red rear end counts out the duration of the red light, the slitscan continuing leftward at a steady pace.  When traffic begins to move again we see the left taillight then some empty road where the car had been.

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Artful slitscans with notes on the photographers’ techniques.

Body Coat by jktales      via his Flickr page

Photographer’s notes: From a 3 day experimental and testing session in August 2010 with the Camera Donkey III, an experimental camera device. It’s a slit scan, the effect is out of cam.  And also, Wouldn’t actually know how to reproduce this picture, one of those nice random outcomes with slit scans.

 

 out42 by blueeyedpop, slitscan of the ocean   via his Flickr page

Photographer’s notes: capture video, convert to stills, process stills to derive slit, assemble slits into single imagewoot.

slith scan by DoubleNegativeSeb      via his Flickr page

Photographer’s notes: Been having some serious difficulties printing this heavily overexposed slitscan but it works quite nicely as a lith print on Kentmere Kentona in Novolith.

133 slices of the Grand Canal by pho-Tony       via his Flickr page

Photographer’s notes:  Taken with an Ilford Envoy box camera modified, using black paper, to take narrow slit images. One afternoon in August I took the Number 1 Vaporetto (water bus) in Venice from the Bacino San Marco, along the length of the Grand Canal to the Piazzale Roma. The journey of 3.5km takes about an hour. Every few moments I took a photo and advanced the film by 1/8th of a turn, moving to 1/10th of a turn towards the end as the take up spool grew in diameter as the film built up. There were 133 exposures in total. This image shows the entire width of the film.

133 slices of the Grand Canal by pho-Tony, detail    view the image at its original 8749 x 709 pixels here

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DIY Slitscan — Digital Apps You Can Try 

Slit-Scan Camera by Funner Labs, for iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad.  Good tutorial on their website.

 

This makes me wonder what slitscan would do with a good  game of Twister.  Artfully lit?  With every Twistee in a unique color of leotards and tights.

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ScanCamera  by studio-307.com, for iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad.  Optimized for iPhone 5.  Well-explained tutorials on their website.

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Coda: synchronicity at the local farmers’ market

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look further:
Where to see more slitscan work


By on September 29th, 2012
This is the second in a series about photography techniques that can provide artistic distortions.
Slitscan photography and videography.  Artists are already at work in it.  Here is Slitscan Carnival by Carl Rosendahl with music by Ergo Phizmiz
Those roller-coasters!
Rosendahl’s slitscreening doesn’t happen in-camera.  He took the video at a carnival, then wrote post-processing software to create the slitscan effect.  What started with cameras and film has emerged as parallel digital technologies.  Post-processing, Rosendahl’s and other software, and also now two iPhone apps that take the doing back inside the camera.  (Topic of the next blogpost.)
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Relativity, slitscan photograph by Ansen Seale    via his website
 Ansen Seale takes the art of slitscans seriously.  This is what you long to see — someone who understands the technology but cares about the image.  I love in Relativity (above) how the movements of one bather mass together at the lower right while everyone else is a cipher.  Look how skillful is his Red Flag (below) taken in China.   He’s got the flags, minimized the personalities.
 
Red Flag, slitscan photograph by Ansen Seale    via his website
 
Distortions have been part of modern art for over a century.  Manual artists can create a three-elbowed arm on a figure.  Maybe it ends up being a good painting, maybe not.  Likewise photographic and digital technologies offer their devotees manipulations.  Sometimes the images are splendid art, sometimes they’re technically apt but aesthetically the equivalent of  paintings by talented gorillas.
Art is judged by artfulness.


By on September 26th, 2012

Panning Peripheral Portrait of Linda by Andrew Davidhazy     via his website

Look at this photograph and ask yourself, Could Picasso visualize such distortions in his head? Andrew Davidhazy  made this experimental photograph 20 years after the master painter died.  For me at least there’s deep satisfaction in the artistic warping of human form.  It tells us truths we can only feel, that realism conceals by our staid reliance on the ordinary

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Years ago I discovered Andre Kertesz’s book of photographs Distortions at the library.  Took it out so many times I finally begged my own copy for Christmas.  What Kertesz created with his nude models and the funhouse mirror is timeless, wondrous and beautiful.  Or you may yelp Not for me.  But for those of us with the affinity there’s endless fascination in the work and in the artistic techniques that create distortion.

Distortion by Andre Kertesz    via quatemases on Tumblr

Andre Kertesz Distortion #40       via thegreatexposition.com

Distortion by Andre Kertesz    via …y mientras tanto // …and meanwhile

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A good place to go for inspiration is the website of Rochester Institute of Technology professor Andrew Davidhazy, author of the gorgeous image at the top.  The site’s a bit overwhelming — I’ve suggested some pages at the bottom here.  Here are some of his images which may inspire you to your own camera experiments.

Peripheral portrait with improvised digital camera, Sarah by Andrew Davidhazy   via his website here

Peripheral portrait by Andrew Davidhazy   via weirdfishrarebird

 I find I’m most fascinated by Davidhazy’s peripheral photography techniques but you may find that something hooks you in his many other studies, such as his Conical Panoramic Photographs (his Eiffel Tower is below), his Vortices in Water here, or his Splashes here.

He appears to relish communications so I will query him on his improvised camera peripheral portraits.  You may have technical questions he can answer too.

Davidhazy’s paris-eiffel-2

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Coda: I couldn’t stop myself.  I’ve just ordered a rolled plastic funhouse mirror.  Always wanted one.  I think there’s an unrolled place for it in my house.  Will others agree?

Image (and soon the mirror) from carnivalmirror.com

Camera time!

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My next blog post will continue this theme of distortion and the artistic means thereto.

look further:

Andrew Davidhazy

Andre Kertesz

  • •  In 1933 Kertész was commissioned for the series, Distortion, about 200 photographs of Najinskaya Verackhatz and Nadia Kasine, two models portrayed nude and in various poses, with their reflections caught in a combination of distortion mirrors, similar to a carnival’s house of mirrors. In some photographs, only certain limbs or features were visible in the reflection. Some images also appeared in the 2 March issue of the “girly magazine” Le Sourire and in the 15 September 1933 issue of Arts et métiers graphiques.[1][4] Later that year, Kertész published the book Distortions, a collection of the work.[8]                      via Wikipedia here
  • •  The photographs are characterized precisely by the pure formal investigation into the shapes of the female nude reflected in the wavy surface of the carnival mirror. Kertesz began the Distortions as an assignment for the humor magazine Le Sourire. Before 1933 Kertesz had already experimented seriously with distortions which were created by various surfaces, such as water, mirrors and glass spheres. For instance, around 1930 he had made several distorted, humoristic portraits of his friend and caricaturist Carlo Rim in the mirrors at Luna Park. Kertesz accepted the assignment from Le Sourire, and had two mirrors from Luna Park placed in the studio which was made available to him. Very quickly he became so fascinated with the disorienting results that he decided to make a larger series than was necessary for the commission.     via HubPages here

see also  my blog post of July 26, 2012:  In New York: Mirror Mirror 

 



By on July 9th, 2012

All photography in this post by JanLeonardo                          via his website

Here is a great example of an artist with two sides to him.  These delicately-colored landscapes, so subtle and still, are the work of JanLeonardo, one of the gonzo light-painters.     [see June 15]

He’s a founder of the artform Light Art Performance Photography (LAPP) which

differs slightly from standard light painting in that the camera is capturing an artist’s performance.  The artist’s light movements are generally choreographed and rehearsed prior to the exposure being taken.   

[JanLeonardo via LPP]

Vehement action, the theater of moving lights, versus a contemplative look at how light shapes a scene, a place at rest.  This doesn’t always happen in art, an artist with more than one inner voice to answer to.  Artists stretch and mature, our lives change, our abilities grow, a new press or foundry opens up in town.   We swerve.  But not every artist has two such different impulses to appease.  To perform at will, or to wait for an unsure moment to arrive.

An artist creating art is working.  Look at these landscapes and imagine the trek, the schlep, the wait.  The worry about an outcome partly in the hands of nature.  And see too the sensitivity to color, the camera skills, in capturing these effects.

Here’s a set-up by the German photographer that paid off in Spain.  No choreography, all wait and see.

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Note: JanLeonardo was the originating half of the duo LAPP-PRO.   Since early 2011 he has continued his over-the-top light performance photography work under his own name.  Two are below.

  

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go further:

NB: The field of LAPP is a mare’s nest of names and terminology.



By on June 21st, 2012
Note: This is the reworking of a June 21 post that was lost (with some others) in a server glitch.
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Cecilia Paredes         via chicquero

Some artists practice camouflage as part of their art.  They get painted to match a background.   Thereby getting painted into it?   Or painted out of our awareness?

Ceclia Paredes and Verushcka, being normal humans, will have an intricate weave of reasons why they’re having themselves painted in/out.  It’s laughably unlikely that none of these has to do with being female in a traditionally androcentric society.  Bo-lin is here to remind us that no reason’s ever quite that crisp.

The Chinese Liu Bolin is easier to explain — he says his work is about an individual getting lost in mass culture.  He’s known as  the Invisible Man – and you’ll agree.   Liu Bolin stays clothed.  With the Peruvian Cecilia Paredes and German Verushcka (Vera Lehndorff) — both women — nakedness is often part of the artform.

It would be mad to ignore the factor of sexuality in the body-painting work Paredes and Veruschka do.  Mostly it’s their naked flesh, there are others applying paint, flesh is built to have sensations.  As with the political side of their work, this notion is worth including in our evaluations.  Yet notions are never proofs.  Because is a tricky word best left to theoretical physicists and researchers hunting cures.

 Being a woman is a complex experience.  There are issues of being a product too much on view, and, with age, of no longer being seeable.  The male gaze goes. How women deal with that — makeup, clothing, gait, push  – changes throughout a lifetime.  And whether that’s what painting their bodies is about, they’re the ones who know.

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Here again we see that photography stands as the proof, the artifact, the “work.” The salable, the viewable it.  Paint a canvas, hang it on the gallery wall, get painted into a scene, hang a photograph of that.  You’re gonna be out there 24/7?  You’re sure to get an itch.

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I like that Cecilia Pareses tests herself with different poses, we see her body, or just her arms, or she stares us in the face.  Interesting that in many poses the hair is left to speak for itself.  Not hidden under a painted swimming cap, it’s there.  In the top photo it seems to be a red wig.  Paredes also experiments with painted clothing, not just flesh — there’s even one where she’s completely collaged over with what looks like the wallpaper she stands before.

 

 

Cecilia Paredes         via chicquero

Cecelia Paredes  via My Random Field
Cecilia Paredes         via chicquero

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Veruschka (Vera Lehndorff) has had an extraordinary career, a stunning supermodel who got bored and started painting herself.  She’s worked with photographer Holger Trülzsch since 1966 and the two have painted Veruschka to blend into a variety of backgrounds, with greater and lesser degrees of camouflage.  If you can get your hands on a copy of their Trans-figurations book I recommend it.   Essays by Lehndorff and Trülzsch, an introduction by Susan Sontag.  You see a range of visual strategies they explored.  Also sets of shots where Veruschka steps aside from the area she’s painted to blend in with and you appreciate how terrific their camouflage skills get.  In the second photo here, where she blends into wall and sky, you see a version where she dips her shoulders below the skyline.  A moment — a cloud has moved just slightly in the sky – but her blue shoulders now against the white wall break the spell.

Below we see how she began by being painted and progressed to being painted in/out.

 Veruschka in Africa    via paperpursuits

 Vera Lehndorff and  Holger Trülzsch photo            via Anya Roz blog

Vera Lehndorff and  Holger Trülzsch photo         via boomers-book

Vera Lehndorff and  Holger Trülzsch photo         via essence-of-entities


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Liu Bolin is also known as the Invisible Man.  You’ll see why.

Liu Bolin via My Modern Met

 


Liu Bolin via designboom

 

Liu Bolin        via Monster Casserole

Hiding in the City No 18, 2006 – Laid Off by Liu Bolin        via Eli Klein Fine Art

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So are these people painted in or painted out?  Define the cloud.

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look further:

Cecilia Paredes

Veruschka

Liu Bolin

  • Liu Bolin at Eli Klein Fine Art
  • photos documenting stages of Liu Bolin being painted at the dragon mural (above) — but you’ll have to dig for them.  no individual URLs
  • photos documenting Liu Bolin and French street artist JR creating a project in New York


By on June 17th, 2012

I want to look today at a very different form of light painting than we did in the last post.  Here the artists carry their lights out into the night to create a poetry of place.  This isn’t about drawing circles or squiggles on top of a dark scene, it’s not gesture.  This is light as a film-maker may use it or a painter. The focus is the place, as a character, a mood.

You could venture into your back yard at night with flashlights and camera and come back with images of a place unknown.  The power in the light-painters’ images comes from the unnaturalness of their light.   The years’s fullest moon couldn’t illuminate as these artists do — highlighting, backlighting, shaping the darkness.

from Jarrett Murphy’s Winter series                 via his website

Snow #3 2007 Norway by Tim Simmons              via his website

Look at these two snow scenes, by the US photographer Jarrett Murphy and by Tim Simmons of the UK.  Both are snow, but the whites are defined differently.  I love in the Murphy that you still register the deep blue of the sky above his white expanse.  And the crisp detail of the withered plants in silhouette.  This is the natural world caught in the quiet and mystery of night.  It feels solemn and true.

Simmons’ snowy spot has theatrical drama, a blue cast over all, a sense of a marvelous place, hidden, now found.  This could be a stageset for a mythic encounter.  The artificiality of the lighting is part of what the image says.  Not nature, more fiction.  It aims at the mysteries of our storytelling psyches.

I find both photographs very beautiful.

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Jarrett Murphy

Murphy specializes in light-painting in nature.  Stunning work you’ll not be sorry to be more acquainted with.  I don’t want to draw too firm a distinction between his work and Simmons’.  There’s a wonderful photo of him sitting foreground in a light-painted woods — the path lit ahead is beautiful as pure nature-scape, but also invites a centaur to prance across or Macduff’s army to scuttle through.

from Jarrett Murphy’s Summer series          via his website

from Jarrett Murphy’s Summer series          via his website

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Tim Simmons

Simmons sometimes travels far to find the landscapes he paints with light.  You’ll find images from Iceland, the US and his native England in his gallery — special places you might walk past in daylight unawares.  Your imagination will be well repaid by a tour of his discovered spots.

Olympic Peninsula #4 2010 USA by Tim Simmons         via his website

Rockpool #12 2008 UK by Tim Simmons       via his website

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Suren Manvelyan

Suren Manvelyan lovingly lights and photographs ancient sites in his native Armenia.  I doubt that he thinks of himself as a light painter in the same way the others do, but I find the exquisite beauty in his night photography equally poetic.

Often Manvelyan’s breathtaking night sky is filled with stars.  He also photographs star trails, those long-exposure arcs that track the earth’s spinning.  I’ve been trying to figure out how he gets these star-spangled skies behind the lit ruins, but I’m guessing a double-exposure, where the film saw the stars before the scene was lit and  again when the lights were on.  A hillside’s not going to wander off in the interval.  Twitch its ears.

Which is one reason I admire his work so much.  His titles make it clear he feels a power and beauty in Armenia that he wants us to share.  Devising a way to include vast skies is an artistic decision both wise and potent.

Don’t miss other images in his gallery, including some wonderful macrophotography.

Amberd fortress, XI-XIII century by Suren Manvelyan       via his website

from the Night Armenian Grammar series by Suren Manvelyan               via Behance

from the Nightscapes of the Armenian Spirit by Suren Manvelyan             via Behance

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Jadikan-LP

Guilhem Nicolas aka Jadikan-LP (the LP standing for Lighting Project), is most often brash and wild, often seeing light painting as a performing art, but in this series he paints with light in, well, a painterly way.  I love his greens and blues, the deep spaces, the dingy and unmemorable given strange life.

Red, like indigo, is very close to black.  I’ve seen very little red light used in these place-scapes, for a reason.  It’s so artificial you expect Space Cadets to arrive with the weaponry du jour.  Rockets covered in tinfoil.  The only natural light in these places that would be red is in a forest fire — and then the image is about fire more than about place.

With the first three photographers we’ve looked at there is an impulse to showcase real places, not to dominate them.  In the works Jadikan did in Italy, below, naturalism is limited to using the cool palette  We believe these are abandoned night-time spaces, there’s not a noisy boulevard a block away.  My favorite is first, it seems the freest and its color is clear, less broken, more decisive for the eye.

His other work is also worth your while, including the videos cited below.  He did some spectacular work in Nepal and his artistic imagination keeps morphing and growing in an exciting way.

all three images from the Spectres (Italie) series by Jadikan-LP          via his website

Over the past week I’ve been pulled into the world of light painting with unexpected suction.  The more I read and look, the bigger the field is, the more I love what the best artists are doing.  This is a fairly new artform, relying on batteries and ingenious devices, and you can imagine the artistic space it has yet to colonize.

Next post: Drawing and writing with light.

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look further:

Jarrett Murphy Photography, Fine Art and Landscape Photography

Tim Simmons – image series

Suren Manvelyan

Jadikan-LP



By on May 30th, 2012

Storm waves.  Think of the power — to pulverize, shove, snap to pieces.  There are photographers who face these seas.  The images they return with are both documents and art.  The three photographers below are well worth attention.

Alessandro Puccinnelli captures the power of the waves.  His images grab their explosiveness.  Look at his tones.  His cropping — which can change from one shot to another.  His visceral focus and the immediacy it brings.  He says, “To some extent the sea is my guide through life; I think of the sea as an example and a source of knowledge.”  

I remember when I first saw his Intersections project (which these two photos are from).  My inner jaw dropped and my heart yelped yes.  I grew up near the sea, I understand how nourishing the sight of it can be.  Interesting that in his commercial work Puccinnelli chose to use a very “loose and free” approach.  How unlike the intensity of his sea.

 two above photographs from Alessandro Puccinnelli’s Intersections project, via his website

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 Clifford Ross gets into hurricanes.  He wades into the surf as it roils toward him, tethered by a rope to an assistant on the beach.  Think of that as these combers come at you.

HURRICANE L, 2009 by Clifford Ross   via his website

HURRICANE LV, 2009  by Clifford Ross      via his website

Ross is an exemplar of contemporary art-meets-technology.  He created and patented an unprecedented hi-res camera — because he saw a mountain to photograph and existing technology couldn’t give him the detail he imagined for it.  He inspired a cyclorama project and made a video animation Harmonium Mountain with music by Philip Glass.  A fascinating human, I suggest you explore some of the extra materials listed at the bottom here.

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Think of gluing all the continents together, Africa, Eurasia, the Americas, the poles.   That’s a boggling lot of land.    You could step off the curb today and begin to walk, eating, sleeping, aging as you go, and never walk the girth of vast Pangaea.  Generations would have to take up your task.

Yet dry land is but a pittance of Earth’s surface.  Salt water covers some 70%.  When ocean waters get riled they’ve got a lot of weight to heave around.

Below are photos of a storm in the Black Sea.  Lives were lost, five ships sank, an oil tanker broke in half, 1000 tons of oil were spilt in the churning sea.   The photographer of these disturbing shots isn’t credited.  I thank whoever held the camera for their practiced skills when this hellish storm slammed into view.  These aren’t snapshots.  But all I know is that Russian bloggers processed the film and posted these HDR visions soon after the storm.

 

two HDR photographs processed by anonymous Russian bloggers                 via the EnglishRussia site, via gCaptain

 

The power of the sea indeed.  And the power of humans to record — which is the next topic of this blog.

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go further:

Alessandro Puccinnelli –

  •  •  his blog
  •  •  his website has examples of his seascapes and his commercial work.

Clifford Ross –

  • •  documentary The Art of Innovation, about creating his remarkable camera and a bit about his hurricane technique.
  • •  Ross’s digital video fantasy Harmonium Mountain with music by Philip Glass.  I saw it last year in New York — it’s beautiful and good fun.
  • •  Ross sells large-scale Archival Pigment Prints from his website – a raging hurricane for your wall.

 

 

 



By on May 17th, 2012

In this launch of the Green as Sky  blog I welcome you to all I find fascinating — and hope that you’ll find delight here too. I’m a seasoned artist, a geek, a lover of small evocative facts, the way animals move and how artists make what wasn’t there before.

This splendid d makes a great starting point for the blog.  It’s by Ruslan Khasanov, a Russian artist whose creative process should make you grin.  Particularly if you’re an artist.

He was painting letter forms, ink on wet paper, trying for a melting-away look.  When he went to clean off his brush he painted an idle d in the sink and there it was: the beauty of a liquifying form.  He was savvy enough to grab his camera and a surprising alphabet was born.  We start with Khasanov’s d because I want this blog to celebrate the human impulse to create.

Think of it: you’re at the sink to wash a brush.  And you make a playful gesture.  Which is rooted in your curiosity about letters, wetness, ink.  This is a perfect artistic moment — the hand tries something it wasn’t there to try.   This is the creative spirit.

And Khasanov’s d gives us another equally important  lesson in creativity.  He knew what he saw when he saw it.  He didn’t just see ink dispersing, he discovered beauty and value in it.

Lesson number three is that he was moved to act.  Art in the brain (Aha, then nothing) isn’t art.  You have to capture it.  He might have reached for paper, tried to blot or make a print.  Khasanov grabbed his camera.  What you see above is an animated GIF, a compilation of numerous rapid camera shots.  It’s a brilliant answer to, How do I capture my insight and make it art?  Still photography and digital knowhow.  We see how a real artist can make them potent  — far more wild and affecting than straight video.

I keep trying to imagine how he drew letters with one hand and triggered bursts of unwobbly photos with the other.  But of course he improvised.  A practicing artist already has tools and knows how to get results with them.  This isn’t part of the impulse to create — its a fruit.   The confidence you earn, your bag of tricks, the means to act.

Ruslan Khasanov’s ephemeral letters are superb.  Beautifully crafted, gorgeous and satisfying to watch as they lazily cycle. Typography is in something of a Renaissance as digital screens expand the possibilities.  What once was a floridly embellished initial capital can now dance — or disappear.

I also love this d because it’s cryptic.  It starts in your verbal brain: d.  It transmutes into wordless shapes and flows away.  Your nonverbal brain also gets to participate and be fed.  I trust cryptic.  Isn’t that what illuminated letters are about?

For the rest of Khasanov’s fleeting and mesmerizing alphabet see Liquid calligraphy at his website.

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I want to express a heartfelt thanks to my generous and gloriously geek-brained friend Mike for creating the WordPress theme (or template) for this blog.