I've been playing with computers, and looking at art, since I was a little kid. The two interests finally came together when I started to study cognition and memory. I learned that memory is really a process of reconstruction rather than recall. Apparently what we remember from a scene consists of a few key details, and the rest is filled in by our expectations. Show someone a picture of a dog, and then ask them to draw it a little while later, and they will draw a dog, but it may not look anything like the picture you showed them!
I realized that my own memory of scenes I photographed tended to be quite different from the picture itself. When I go back and look at old photographs, I am often shocked by how different they look from what I remember! What I've been trying to do, therefore, is to alter my photographs using computer programs, to try to extract the essence of the image as I saw it.
Where do you go for inspiration?:
I don't have any one place I go, though for a while I was doing a project where I went to the same spot every evening and took a picture of the sunset, because it is completely different almost every time. In general though, I seek variety. Travel is a great source of inspiration for me, and I am always trying to talk to local people wherever I go. Even if I don't know the language, I will try out the phrases from the back of the guidebook on hapless passers-by :-) I am completely without inhibition in this regard. The great thing is that just having a big grin when you try to talk in a foreign language will get a great response from people :-) But it also helps me feel more immersed in the place, and brings out my enthusiasm for exploration, which in turn results in better pictures!
Do you have any favorite artists?:
Too many to list! If I have to mention just one, I would say Anish Kapoor. He's made, among other things, the Cloud Gate sculpture (more popularly known as the Bean) in the Millenium Park in downtown Chicago. I like his indoor installations even more, because they are really elegant and space-filling, and can't be entirely taken in from any one angle. So it requires work on the part of the viewer to comprehend the entire structure.
How would you describe your art?:
I view art as a process of communication. When I see something, I have a very particular experience that reflects not just what I am seeing, but what I am seeing it as. My problem is how to communicate this experience to someone else. Words generally fail me :-) So my art is an attempt to abstract away the irrelevant details from a picture to try to simplify it and to communicate the (largely) emotional memory of it that stays in my mind's eye. I'll give two specific examples: In my work titled "Standing by a tree", I've tried to show how immense, yet how reassuring, was the experience of standing in the shelter of that tree, by letting the tree fill up the entire frame of the image, and showing the person as a tiny little patch by it. I don't remember individual branches and leaves, just a greenness towering over me. Second, in my work titled "Sunset No. 3", I've tried to show how the sun blazed a trail of color toward the horizon. I wished I had taken a time-lapse picture to show it really looked, so I tried to alter the picture to smear out the colors in a way that shows how I actually remember it.
If you could travel to anywhere in the world, where would you go?:
I love to travel, so this is a very long list also! I'll cheat a little bit and name an entire continent - Africa. There is a great deal of variety in Africa, and I want to see all of it, but I especially want to go into the desert. Looking at shifting sandscapes is a little like looking at clouds - you can see anything you want in them. As you might guess, I find that idea especially interesting.
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