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This was an interesting experiment that ended up going off into a completely unexpected direction. I was in the process of roughing out a 40’ long dragon for a scene shop that was doing a Mythical Beast exhibit for the American Museum of Natural History. I had a week to knock this monster out, so the carving approach was enormously aggressive.

Most of the rough out was done with a “Bow Wire”. The bow has a deep throat and is able to take very large bites out of the foam in a single stroke. As I made my way through the carving, I noticed that the beauty of the scrap, in certain ways, exceeded the beauty of the object that I was trying to create.

While the dragon was a skillfully executed contrivance, the scrap represented pure gesture and attack. Each bite was responsible for a new shape that was free and mindless and unencumbered by concept, an accidental beauty that is largely byproduct. The closest parallel in painting may be an instance in which the beauty and orientation of the brush strokes in and of themselves exceeds the aesthetic merit of the painting as a whole.

All of the shapes with in this album are the result of an hour’s carving. The studio was filling up with these pieces at an alarming rate, the light pouring into the studio was glorious. I grabbed the bits that most grabbed me and started shooting, no tripod, no flash, no drop and just a block of uncut foam for a table. Later that evening when I first saw the photos in my computer, I was astonished.

 I did some selections and did a little dodge and burn, a bit of spotting and dropped in a few dark gradients to create less distracting back grounds. Out side of that, it didn’t take much. I sat back and started thinking: What if? The following photos are that result.

I started flipping and flopping and slicing and dicing which led to some lovely instant gratification. The images began to take on an immediately architectural look due to their symmetry. At first glance, these pieces seem to be digitally generated, for reasons of said symmetry the lighting becomes unnaturally centralized and seemingly synthetic (digital) even though the images are based solely upon an analog experience.

When I look at these images, I am fascinated by how deliberate it all seems. The individual shapes fan out and converge with in progressive rates of trajectory that appear to be extremely well considered, which of course is as absolutely far from the truth as could be possible. It is the illusion of deliberation that adds to the suggestion of architecture as well. When all is said and done such images amount to little more technically than a photographic Rorschach test.
Abstract Scrap