CMNS 325: Assignment 1: Image-making EcologyZachary Pope
Section A: Tools of the Artists
1)The works of Andreas Gursky are large-scale photographs, sweeping views, often from a high aerial vantage point. Since the 1990’s he has used digital manipulation to produce larger images than can even practically captured, and to highlight the elements of the image he wishes to become focused on. In this image (A1) I have altered the perspective slightly with the transform tool, to give a stronger impression of a high view. Further, in as many areas as possible, I have adjusted the colour balance to reduce the number of colours present in the image, and restricting those in a sharp bright range. In addition, I have removed certain elements of the ceiling for a simpler image, as well as adding extra width to the base of the display stand to give an impression that it keeps going in either direction. Gursky utilizes similar techniques to produce a limited palette of powerful colours, and remove the elements he dislikes, usually moving towards further aesthetic simplicity to highlight a point. I call this image ‘Rapunzelmart’.
2)Edward Burtynsky photographs arepanoramic, massive, beautiful, and ultimately haunting and chilling. The beauty of seemingly natural shapes and forms, is darkened by reality of the their post-industrial formation. A grand canyon of used tires, or a river of mining runoff, the beauty of the scene is hard to deny. Yet it gives one goose bumps when one realizes these are photographs of actual landscapes, images kept out of sight, yet a byproduct of the capitalist consumption many of us enjoy every day. To recreate his images, without hunting out the haunting beauty of a post-industry landscape, Photoshop has several useful tools. One common type of image Burtynsky produces is that of mining runoff, byproducts of the process. Rivers of freakishly coloured fluid run through a dark desolate area. To recreate this effect, I created a separate layer for the water itself, the land and mud, and kept a background of the whole scene. The water was shifted orange and contrasted sharply, and the land and mud were driven into a harsh black scale of high contrast. The main background was less harsh in its dark scaling, but still greyed out. Then the land/mud layer was erased with a diffuse edged eraser along the top where the hills were, leaving them even darker than the mud in the slow moving river. Though this is not a technique Burtynsky has to use himself, it is useful to know how to split the layers and toy with their levels of colour, contrast, vibrancy, and more.
Section B: The Stylistic Movements
1)Pop art is but one movement of style within a larger narrative of art history, but the critical approach it took to subject matter, not just the content of a given image in its movement, but to art itself. The breaking of the divide between object/subject and context marked much of this movement. Everyday objects sculpted out of unexpected material, or reframed inside a surprising environment given its usually ‘common’ or ‘banal’ nature. Unlike DADAism, which it replaced, it revered mass consumerism and its products, and while it also satirized its subjects, it did not do so in the destructive anarchic manner DADAism did. The pieces that are considered a part of pop art, are also considered to be on the cusp of postmodernism, which actually carried through the reverence of popular culture and consumption. In this image, I have used Photoshop to imitate the silkscreening process used by Andy Warhol. By using the Stamp filter, after treating the image of a pop culture character, I created a basic black outline underneath which colour could be applied. This effect was duplicated to create a whole image.
2)Though older, Cubism is a movement that explored subject matters by breaking them apart and examining them in ways they do not appear in one’s mundane experience. Cubism focused on breaking apart, analyzing, and then reassembling a subject matter into an abstracted form. For this image, to duplicate the effects of Cubist painters, sections of the photo were selected and made into their own layers using the marquee tool. The layer style ‘inner glow’, at varying settings, was applied to each layer of the image. The image was made more complex by adding pattern overlays to each layer. Finally, the hue/saturation levels were adjusted to shift it further from looking like a photograph towards a painting. Subsequent lower layers were shifted, each shift applying to all layers below that one. Breaking apart an image, by taking various views of it when composing the painting, was an early use of the separation between context and object. This sort of questioning of existing framing can be seen in many subsequent artistic movements, from DADAism, to Pop Art, and onwards.
Section C: The Genres, Techniques, and Technologies
1) Nature photography attempts to capture natural elements in a single image. In the case of wildlife in particular, it often attempts to capture the sense of motion, or action, such as eating, flying, mating or running. With some subjects however, there is either no action, or it is highly difficult to capture, such as with a rock or a moth respectively. In this case, I have attempted to create a false photograph of a butterfly landing briefly on a clover. Both images were from separate sources, but create a surprisingly real image when placed together. To accomplish this, basic layering was necessary, to place butterfly over leaf. Then, to enhance the effect of a macro setting on a camera, where the depth of field is greatly reduced so as best to capture the butterfly at the center, I duplicated the leaf layer. Then, applying a Gaussian blur, it was made further out of focus. I erased the blurred copy layer where the main leaf was, to keep that in focus, then simply lined the butterfly up where I liked it. A butterfly, sitting on a leaf it was never on, apparently in a natural calm setting. Now admittedly, it might bother a viewer, as the clover is by far out of scale and unable to hold such a butterfly in reality. However, this is the power of Photoshop’s tools, to create seemingly natural scenes in spite of their true possibility. A Rhino charging over tundra, or an elk climbing a dune are both very possible, and yet unreal images.
2) Graffiti has existed for a very long time, and the conceptualization of it as art, has been hard to swallow for many. It has been used as secret symbols among groups such as gangs, as well as for political commentary or advertisement as far back as Ancient Rome. It always exists as some sort of social commentary, existing inside of, and often suggestive of, a larger cultural/societal context. Artists such as Banksy have taken the medium to all new levels, not only making social commentary and dark comedy, but also a narrative just about him. Photoshop can recreate such wall art with a variety of tools. Taking the image of comic superhero Green Lantern, I cut and erased it down to just the fist and ring. Using the Channel Mixer I set it to monochrome, and then used the Stamp filter to create a simplified image. I shifted the Blending Mode to Mulitiply to allow a dropped in background to appear through the non-black parts of the fist. Adding a line of text in stencil font, I began to apply effects. To both fist and words, I applied Gaussian Blur at a low percentage, and then using a pixel mask, rendered a cloud filter over it. This was repeated with duplicated layers of both, using progressively higher % Gaussian blurs. Then, using a 0% hardness eraser and brush, I toyed with the edges of the words and fist, creating spill over and under-painted sections. Finally I added a lighting effect to create a more real image. Using progressive application of layers, filters, and other tools, one can build up an image, or in this case, make it increasingly real.