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Variations on a theme.

I'm not attracted to photography because of my interest in reality, yet through the process of photographing reality I'm able to leap from the literal to the imaginative.

I use realistic photographs as inspirational starting points in the creation of a new reality. Within each "study" are seeds of the various media used--i.e., oil painting, video/computer photography and multi-print imagery--to change the compositional elements of the photograph. The compositions remain the same, but what is placed into the compositions is manipulated. In some cases, the shadows become objects and the objects that cast the shadows are transformed into architectural designs, landscape patterns and other objects for exploration.

I exposed my color film at the times of the day when the shadows are strongest. Many of the photographs were taken in Florida and Mexico where the southern sun can be intensely bright. I underexposed many of the slides, in order for the colors of the objects to be saturated, with shadows deeply etched in strong and distinct lines. If one were to look at the shadows as objects rather than as mere cast outlines of an object, then the shadows appear three-dimensional.

"Slipping Progressively Through an Image" is a four-part group of images that stress the process of ideas by showing themes translated from a photographic study to an oil painting to a video/computer photograph to a multi-print montage. In the oil painting, a limited palette is used for the objects in these paintings. At some points, black is used either for the reversal of shadow to object, or object to shadow. The original composition is then transformed to make the image appear to be lifted off itself or floating. All of this helps create the maximum illusionistic depth out of a flat surface.

After creating the oil painting, a video/computer photograph is taken abstracting the original image to obscure its original meaning. If seen alone it appears to be abstract, but in the context of a larger work, it explores the color range possible in a video image. Basically, the image is processed by either a computer or video camera and then the color and contrast is manipulated.

The multi-print montage uses the technique of reversal from an original color slide. The color slide is placed into a black-and-white enlarger and printed as a negative. However, because the original color slide is of high contrast, the negative looks like a positive. I then make a few of the negative prints, take the color slide out of the enlarger, put in the new negative and make a normal exposure over the first exposure. This is an easy way to do multi-printing as it does not require understanding negative density from a technical stand point. The densities are determined in the original slide and the other negatives are specifically shot for the gray tones. If you want to use more than one negative, then darkroom techniques such as burning or dodging an image may be used. The main point is to understand the concept, and then do with it as you please.

Dislocation and transmutation are the key factors in this progressive series. I'm trying to perfect an art of errors; in this way all possibilities are possible and justified if they can be adjusted to the concept.

When creating experimental art, errors occur often. Rather than regard errors as mistakes, I view them as a valid outgrowth of the creative process. By exploring the errors, you might end up with an interesting image that is a failure, but the next picture might be visionary because you saw how to transform the error into a successful conclusion.

In the different phases of this evolution, the initial study corresponds directly to the video/computer photograph, and the painting corresponds to the black-and-white montage. This arrangement explores a whole range of possibilities of how the works can be viewed from realistic study to surrealistic oil painting, and from abstract video to surrealistic multi-print. Thus, this series follows specific concepts in a well-orchestrated presentation that makes one aware of the intellectual as well as the visual aspects of an aesthetic.

Julius Vitali is an artist/photographer/teacher from Flicksville, Pennsylvania.
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Author:Vitali, Julius
Publication:School Arts
Date:Oct 1, 1990
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