A while back I discussed the magical worlds in toilet paper rolls of French artists Anastassia Elias. I find paper sculpture art very appealing. There is tremendous delicacy about it. It also opens up an infinity of possibilities for tone-on-tone photography, particularly white tones on white tones.
Tone-on-tone is, to me, a very intriguing form of photography. You’ve got to very carefully choose the tonal range. It is way too easy to “equalize the histogram,” setting the darkest tone to black and the lightest tone to white. When you do that you can lose the very essence of the tone-on-tone.
With all these reasons in mind, I was delighted last night to discover the wonderful laser cut paper sculptures of British/Irish artist Rogan Brown. Brown finds inspiration in nature and inspiration, in part, from the great tradition of scientific drawing and model making, from such artist-scientists as Ernst Haeckel. The natural inspiration spans from the microcosm of biology to the macrocosm of geology: a zygote, a seed pod, the ocean, or a mountain range.
I love the sculptures. Many of the tone-on-tone photographs, to my taste, could use a bit of work. They seem to follow, for the most part, a simple side lighting approach, and I think that there is room to explore greater drama with more complex light set ups.
Art is inevitably a matter of vision, and Brown’s vision is superb. It is far from merely copying nature like a draughtsman. It is the difference being merely seeing and truly seeing. Brown quotes William Blake, and I think the point apropos of all that we discuss here, and of all the photographs taken for arts sake.
“The tree which moves some to tears of joy is in the eyes of others only a green thing that stands in the way. Some see Nature all ridicule and deformity…and some scarce see Nature at all. But to the eyes of a man of Imagination, Nature is Imagination itself.”
William Blake, Letter to Revd. Dr. Trusler (1799)