I’ve been absorbing, recording, sketching and thinking and have started several projects which are in various stages of gestation.
The project that has proceeded the furthest and smoothest to date is a series of detail images of the natural and cultural landscape here which I have been working with in Live Trace. I began this way of working at a residency at Anderson Ranch in 2006 and I’ve used it at the Headlands Center for the Arts and at the For-SITE Foundation in the Sierra Nevada. But I’ve had a chance to really explore and exploit the technique at Baer. I have been surprised by the vividness and bright colors of the landscape here – the water, the brightly painted houses, the wildflowers, the sunsets (of course) and even the horses and birds. It’s not a tropical explosion of saturated color but contained flashes of color which appear even brighter against the generally subdued colors of the landscape. Most of the art I’ve seen from Icelandic artists is also subdued in color, so I decided to focus on the intense – almost electric – colors I have been finding.
All of the images I’m selecting have a fractal quality to them. I catch a part of something that extends much further and concentrate on the interesting detail which holds up under changes in scale. I love the way that Live Trace also creates a fractal quality in the final image. From a distance it’s fairly easy to see what the image is, but up close the larger picture dissolves into complex interweaving patterns of disjunct but interconnecting colors. The image dissolves/resolves into a topographic gradient of color, shade and form.
Here’s one image of nets piled up at the harbor-front at Sauðárkrókur, followed by a detail of the image to show approximately what it looks like full size.
Here are a few more images from the series.
By reducing the complex original image into as few as 5 (or as many as 200) single colors the image becomes abstracted. I’m particularly interested in the way the software algorithm ‘makes decisions’ about where one color or shade ends and another begins and then draws a vector line as a best approximation delineating the different color zones. I’ve been reading John Cage as part of my research here as I’m interested in finding ways of relinquishing authorship and decision making in my work. Live Trace provides an arbitrariness and complexity to these images which is largely out of my control and in doing so it reveals another fractal layer in the images from (and my experience of) the landscape.
The final images are will be 24″ square and I’m working towards a series of 26 images in the final selection – one for each day of the residency.