High voltage art by Phillip Stearns
Stearns on his project:
I’m unable to find the source of the sentiment that the camera is an extension of the eye, but it’s that very idea which I’ve intentionally taken literally, to an extreme. When looking through the datasheets on various instant color film, I was struck by the similarities between the layering of materials in the film and the layering of cells in the retinal. Though I’m not well versed in the history of film development as parallels the development in the understanding of the physiology of the retinal, the similarities were striking…
Without a camera, images were produced through a combination of processes which parallel techniques utilized in previous experiments with low-resolution digital cameras. Various household chemicals are applied to the surface of the film both before and after exposure. Through symbolic act of cleansing, the fidelity of the film is compromised. The film is also subjected to 15,000 volts of alternating current. In a flash, arcs spread out across the surface, sometimes burning holes, even igniting the film. As in our eyes, images are conveyed in a stream of such electric impulses, only here amplified some 300,000 times. I find it curious and exhilarating that the impressions left behind after developing these extreme exposures so perfectly resemble networks of blood vessels in the retina.
You can see his process in this video:
The hydrodynamics of water strider locomotion. ”Dipolar vortices in the wake of the adult water strider. Images captured from a side view indicate their hemispherical form. The ambient texture results from Marangoni convection in the suspending ﬂuid prompted by thymol blue on its surface. The starburst pattern results from the chunk of thymol blue evident at its centre reducing the local surface tension, thus driving surface divergence that sweeps away the dyed surface layer. The ﬂuid is illuminated from below; consequently, the light-seeking water strider is drawn to the starbursts.” John Bush.
Charles Demuth, My Egypt, 1927. Oil on composition board, 2’ 11 3/4” x 2’ 6”.
Demuth was one of the leading Precisionists—American artist who extolled the machine age. This painting depicts grain elevators reduced to geometric forms amid Cubist transparent diagonal planes.