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Tom Gavitt

www.tomgavitt.com

Artist Statement

THE PROCESS

My ultimate goal in the microscopy project was to produce abstractions without any apparent derivation, using detritus from the corners of rooms and shower drains.   I could talk at length about emotional content, the energy, color balance, tension, the sheer poetry of the pieces, but that's the given domain of the artist.  And sometimes we talk too much.  Talking about, perhaps clarifying, the techniques needed to make these images is another matter.  So here's some information:  I use a regularlab microscope with three ports, two for ocular lenses and one for a camera.  In this case, the camera was designed for this microscope.  The microscope has a 4-lens turret including a 100x oil immersion lens.  By simply rotating the turret you can position the lens you wish to use.

The camera is attached by an interface cable to a laptop computer.  By necessity I'm using an older Lenovo with barely enough RAM to handle the largish files it's dealing with.  However, it has more than adequate hard drive space for the storage of my images.  And I can always add memory.

In the computer I have a proprietary software program that allows me to control the appearance of the image in the same way AdobePhotoshop does. But I try to minimize the amount of manipulation for any given image because each act moves me one step further from a natural result.  If you want pure design, manipulate away, but chances are your art will go out the window.  However, there is one process I use extensively.  It's termed EDF, standing for “Enhanced Depth of Focus”, and it's a very useful tool. 

Unlike a camera, a microscope has no iris diaphram; thus, little or no depth of field.  At higher magnifications that becomes a real problem when photographing subjects with multiple layers.  An example is Abstract 23, the horizontal piece with the bright golden fibers.  That's human hair, at about 600 times magnification.  At that magnification only a very small portion of surface will be in focus at one time; the rest a blur.  But in this photo you see all the subject fiber in focus.  This was accomplished by focusing on the surface furthest away, making an exposure, adjusting the focus slightly, making another exposure, and so on, until the entire subject has been captured, in focus.  Then the resultant images are fused into one, and each small in-focus area combines to create the whole.  It took 60 exposures to make this image as you see it.   It's worth noting that almost all of the pieces comprising this show were created with multiple exposures; as few as 6, as many as 30, excepting Abstract 23.

Because, as a painter, it is just me and the paint and the surface, I am constantly aware of the fact that the only way to the art in the microscope is to be so adept as to be able to lose myself in those lenses.  Down the wormhole and, hopefully, out the other end, without the restrictions of “What do I do next?” dragging me back to the world I just left.  I think I got through a few times.

I've worked very hard to make these images to share with you, though I couldn't do less.  Please enjoy them, and take your time.  There's a whole beautiful world “Beneath Our Feet”.

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Mark Lusardi

Artist Statement