Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Bicycle as Art Model

I try to keep my non-bicycle-related life separate from this weblog. However, I have already mentioned that I am an artist and support myself financially with an academic dayjob. Well, this week the bicycle world and my professional life collided. That is to say, I used a bicycle in one of my art projects. Here is the Co-Habitant dismantling the tripod after a photoshoot on the South Boston waterfront. And that's Velouria in the background, next to the two wooden chairs.

My art is a little difficult to describe. Technically, I am a painter. But before I paint, I create the fictional worlds depicted in those paintings by making series of photographic "tableaux-style" stills. This part is done by both myself and the Co-Habitant as a team: We work together, where he is the technical expert and I am the set designer. We both take the photos, but he is responsible for setting up the technical aspects of the shots and I am responsible for the composition. We use manual film cameras and usually black and white film. But we always have a digital camera along, because it is useful for testing out compositional ideas, getting a sense of the lighting, and so on. So these are some of the pictures off of the digital camera that were taken during the photoshoot. Some were for compositional and light metering purposes, but in others we were just fooling around.

The idea here was to set up an environment that combined notions of indoor and outdoor space.We then enacted a variety of metaphorical scenes using this set-up.

The above picture is an example of "bad composition" that we, thankfully, caught on the digital camera before wasting expensive film on these shots. See how my feet overlap with the bicycle wheel? That's no good; the chair should be further away. For things like that, a quick little digital camera is extremely useful.

A much better composition, for a different scene.

Well, that's enough of the pretentious artsy shots. Here is another one of the Co-Habitant after the photoshoot was done. I was very proud to have captured the full moon here.

And here I am. I really hope that Velouria does not let this shoot go to her head. It's one thing to be featured on a bicycle blog, but being an art model is altogether different!

12 comments:

  1. I'm intrigued as to how you got the chairs there :-) - surely not on the back of the bikes LOL!!!! I'm guessing four wheeled transport was involved. ;-) I like the compositions, particularly the one of you with your back to Velouria, and your explanation of the way you work. I work in pastels or pen and ink and usually from photographs. Like you I have a pesky day job to keep the $ coming in and the cats fed and these days don't have much time to get stuck into art projects. Do you do your own developing of the final images after the negs have been processed and have some darkroom fun with dodging and burning etc?

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  2. I would love to see your stuff. Sounds really cool.

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  3. Love the setting, the light and colours are amazing! Velouria is a beautiful model : )

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  4. Thank you Lorenza & Vee : )

    Carinthia - Yup, the chairs and our equipment were transported by car. We usually film and photograph in remote locations, but this time it was closer to home. Still, I would not risk carrying several SLRs, 2 wooden chairs, costumes, and a bunch of other equipment on bikes through city traffic. We do our own developing with "true black & white" film, but send chromogenic black & white to the lab, as this is a colour processed black & white that cannot be developed at a home lab. Long way of saying "it depends on what kind of film." The cats definitely need to be fed, I agree!

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  5. I especially love the last and the first photos - the way they include the "camera-observer."

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  6. I KNEW Filigree was one of those "artsy fartsy" types. They represent a valuable counterweight to the engineers of the world with their charts & graphs & arrows & such.

    Thankfully, she's tactful enough to focus on the message when commenting on other blogs rather than the tacky photos.

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  7. what a gorgeous idea for photos. you should post the developed photos from the manual camera :) and that full moon shot is lovely

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  8. Beautiful

    Hope we get to see the final product as well

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  9. Steve - I love the photos on other blogs! : )

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  10. Very cool. I wish I had some original artistic talent. I can copy relatively well, but very rarely does anything 'new' spring from my imagination.
    Ah well. I can be one of the appreciative.

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  11. These pictures are cool, I like the concept. At first I thought the last picture was B&W, but then I realized that's the actual color of everything.

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  12. I love the photos. One great thing about bikes--especially ones like Velouria--is that their combination of curves and straight lines, and colors and textures, makes them great subjects as well as characters, if you will, in natural as well as industrial settings. Few objects have that quality. And your photos show it.

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