Photo Based

Photo Based is a term that I’ve just started thinking about more seriously. For me the term describes something which touches on some element of traditional photography. This can be simply taking a photo, finding a photo or building something completely different that references something involved in the photographic. It’s slightly odd that I’m exposed to so much that’s photo based but I’ve never really ventured too far from the very traditional picture taking exercise. Maybe it’s time for a bit of adventure.

The following image was already the result of some fairly major fooling around. It started as a traditional photo then became something else. For the initial image below I took one, four inch ardox nail and suspended it from a fishing line in front of a white background and took a picture. I then isolated the nail on a blank white canvas in Photoshop. I copied that single nail image, rotated the copy slightly in an arbitrary manner—so that it related to the first nail in an interesting way—and moved it to a suitable location on the canvas. I kept doing this for about fifteen minutes. I also processed it a bit with curves and contrast in CS3.

Then I distorting the image in Photoshop filters to get the image below.

If you didn’t know what it was, you’d never be able to guess. I’ve worked another nail baed image that popped into my head last night. This is a more regimented and structured composition, but it’s still sort of working for me.

This all grew out of a very spontaneous and accidental place described below.

Friends of ours are having their first child soon. The momentous event is about six weeks away. We had planned a few simple gifts. A store bought one, one made by Jill and one made by me. For my piece I intended to take a photograph that the couple sent to us to announce the fact that they were pregnant and simply print it nicely and frame it for them. The photo was of a pregnancy test sticks that indicated a positive result. I thought this would be funny and sort of different for the kid to grow up with in their room. It would serve as a reminder of a time before serious parenting began and to remind everyone of the humorous nature of life in general. It was all well intentioned. The problem was the image sort of sucked as an art piece. Although as a text message it was super compelling to communicate the pregnancy, it wasn’t working as a stand alone image. I thought it would look shitty on a wall, especially a wall that the couple had put so much recent effort into getting ready for the baby.

For some reason I just started screwing around. I took that original image of the pee stick and manipulated it in Photoshop to arrive at the image below. Much like the nails above. The new image depicts the indicator areas of the pregnancy test distorted and pixalize. I did some other simple stuff to it and bumped up the contrast a bit. All in all they are pretty cheesy effects that are simple standard filters in CS5 but used in an extreme way they have cool painterly effects.

I think I’ve gotten to something they can hang on their wall that relates to this crazy time in their lives but that nobody else will understand until they explain it. In that way it’s a very personal image that can be hung in plain sight and appreciated by them for what it means and by others for it’s simple aesthetic intrest.

I like this Photoshopping effect enough to continue a series in this vein. I’ve tried a few other photographs but I’m coming to the conclusion that to get a purley abstract image I need to begin with a somewhat abstract image.

I’m happy with this distorted representation of the photograph because it’s so painterly. So much so that I might go that added step extra and print a series of these “photographs” and use them as a reference for a series of paintings.

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4 thoughts on “Photo Based

  1. I love the soft pallet of the adulterated pee stick – going from technical to rather soothing in the colour scheme and composition.

  2. I love this new work so much Chris. It appeals to my sense of “things quotidien” and to my love of abstract modernism and yes, “fractals.” They are scientific, but beautiful and so filled with a unique kind of “stripped down” information. Great stuff

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