Friday Inspiration: Jasper Johns

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I’ve been thinking a lot about aging recently – are my best years behind me? They very well could be! In the physical sciences such as mathematics or physics people seem to have made their important contribution in their early 20’s. Perhaps because they’re less contaminated by dogma at this stage in their career. In the biological sciences scientists are generally older, when they have had an opportunity to amass a broad and deep understanding of their field, when they make their most important contributions. What about in the arts?

It was interesting then, with this as a back drop, to see an exhibition of Jasper Johns recent work ‘Regrets’ at the MoMA. Unusually this wasn’t a career retrospective, or a themed retrospective as one might expect fitting for 83 year old Johns who is referred to as America’s greatest living artist but rather a new body of work completed in the last year. The work caused such excitement among the MoMA curators that they rushed the whole body of work into the museum for an exhibition in a matter of months. They tell the story here.

For an able description of the work check out this article on ArtSpace.

It is interesting to see how the work evolved and spiraled out from a single photograph. An approach that might not work for all of us but is worth having in mind when it comes to exploring options to extend and deepen a body of work.

Jasper Johns: Regrets (March 15–September 1, 2014) from Above York, LLC on Vimeo.

A Compelling Reason for Change: The Harujuku Moment

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While we often know that we should do something we often don’t because there’s not enough pain involved. There’s no compelling reason for change. Tim Ferris relates a story in the Four Hour Body about the moment Chad Fowler realized a need for and committed to his transformation. That it happened on the street in the Harjuku district of Tokyo gave rise to the name. Here’s how Tim Ferris describes it:

So the harajuku moment refers to very specifically a story by Chad Fowler or related to Chad Fowler. So here’s a case study in the book, kicks ass in every possible way. Professionally, he’s a computer programmer, runs a number of very famous conferences in the tech world and he was in Japan shopping for clothing with a number of friends and he was very overweight and he and one other person ended up sitting on the sidewalk and he said, “Yeah. It doesn’t matter what I buy anyway so I’m not going to look good at it”. And there’s this awkward mood of silence like, “Wow, I really just say that?” And he realized that that at point in time, how painful it was to be overweight. And that was his harajuku moment.

I had my own moment similar to that described above in December of last year. For the first time in a long time I saw the person that I had physically become rather than the mental image of who I was. That was enough to kick start the process of change for me.

What if you had an equally compelling reason that guided all of your actions, that pulled you through life? What we’re talking about here is knowing what your purpose is, what you stand for. Have you ever stopped to think about that? Or is it already clear for you?

As always thoughts and comments appreciated.

Beyond One Point Perspective – Putting Space and Time Into Images

I’ve been interested in figuring out how to give my images a sense of space, a feeling that you could step into them, and how I can play with time. I feel as though I’ve been making progress – using different kinds of lenses to get different effects and playing around with long exposures to give effects that can’t been seen.

Somewhat naively I thought that this was my unique struggle and so in digging into David Hockney’s work I was interested to read that he was wrestling with the same issues – 30 or 40 years ago. Hockney’s solution was the creation of photocollages. Perhaps the most successful of these was Pearblossom Highway, the image at the top of the page. When I had originally seen this and others like it I had thought that these were quite simple, knocked out in a couple of minutes. I didn’t realize the thought and effort that went into the making of it. Apparently the original shoot was done over the course of 8 days and then the assembly of the collage took another 2 weeks.

What makes this image interesting for me is that it plays with the notion of one point perspective that you would normally have in a photograph. This is done by changing position for each of the major elements in the photograph, for instance getting up on a ladder to shoot the stop sign. It gives an interesting effect. In other collages photographs of his friends and family taken during the course of an evening or afternoon capture their personality and the action.

I’m not intending to begin photocollages, just yet, but certainly food for thought.