Final Project Research


“Creation is an uncontrolled muscle” according to Arik Levy (born 1963).

Artist, technician, photographer, designer, video artist, Levy’s skills are multi–disciplinary and his work can be seen in prestigious galleries and museums worldwide. Best known publicly for his sculptures – such as his signature Rock pieces –, his installations, limited editions and design, Levy nevertheless feels “The world is about people, not objects.”

Hailing originally from Israel and moving to Europe after his first participation in a group sculpture exhibition in Tel–Aviv in 1988, Levy currently works in his studio in Paris.

His formation was unconventional where surfing, as well as his art and graphic design studio, took up much of his time back home. Following studies at the Art Center Europe in Switzerland he gained a distinction in Industrial Design in 1991.

After a stint in Japan where he consolidated his ideas producing products and pieces for exhibitions, Levy returned to Europe where he contributed his artistry to another field – contemporary dance and opera by way of set design.

The creation of his firm then meant a foray back to his first love, art and industrial design, as well as other branches of his talents. Respected for his furniture and light designs on all continents, Levy also creates hi–tech clothing lines and accessories for firms in the Far East.

Considering himself now more of a “feeling” artist, Arik Levy continues to contribute substantially to our interior and exterior milieu, his work including public sculpture, as well as complete environments that can be adapted for multi use. “Life is a system of signs and symbols,” he says, “where nothing is quite as it seems.”



I enjoy his work because the materials he uses distort what you are looking at. I find he uses his materials in different forms whether it being a closed form or a bunch of planes stuck together. I enjoy his pieces outside and love how they change throughout the day due to lighting.


Born 1985 in a small village in Canton Valais, Switzerland, surrounded by mountains, Sebastian Magnani discovered photography whilst training as a media designer in 2006. After 5 years as a creative in an advertising agency, he decided 2011 to turn his passion into a profession. Since then he has been making a living as a photographer, based in Zurich Switzerland. He currently works on various subjects and several free projects, like the «Underdogs» and «Undercats», where got a lot of media attention and been published on many newspapers, magazines, websites and tv-shows around the globe.


I enjoy his work because it takes one thing (the sky) and puts it somewhere else (the ground) which kind of makes you question what you are looking at and trying to imagine the environment. I feel like it causes a 2D photo experience to be more immersive as you actually what to know what is happening outside the frame.


Denise Riesen is an award-winning photographer with more then 16 years experience. Her work has varied in style and has evolved as she travels both physically around the world, and through the stages of her own life. Her work expands and alters that of a traditional scene into a complex visual interest. She enjoys the constant challenge of new ways of seeing and the creative output of self expression.

Denise has both studied and photographed extensively throughout the North America and Europe through personal travel and professional involvement. Her work has been shown in a number of galleries within the United States and Mexico. Denise has worked as a photo editor, and curator for a number of exhibits both in Chicago and New York City.

Denise currently works primarily as a freelance photographer and artist based in the Chicago area.


She gave me the idea of water being a reflective surface or a material to distort the surroundings for my photographs.

Final Thoughts

With ideas from these artists I also want to try working with tin foil, glass, mirrors, water, acetate, and cutlery to create a distorted perception of what the viewer is looking at while also creating a visually beautiful image.

Photography is not Reality

Erik Johansson:

Conceptual Methodologies

Johansson thinks that traditional photography is not based off of talent, but is about being at the right place at the right time. Anyone can do this. Therefore, he is inspired by creating something where the process of the image starts when you press the trigger. His images have an unexpected twist, but they still retain elements of photographic realism. This is accomplished by creating something that cannot exist in the real world, but appears as it could have been captured as a photograph. These are not photographs that are realistic, but what we think looks realistic. With these, a brief moment is required for the viewer to understand the “trick” in the image; therefore, the importance is more focused on capturing an idea, rather than capturing a moment.

In his TED Talk, he relates his images to optical illusions. This is because they do the same thing as the most important part of his photographs; that is, they combine different realities. Here is the example of the optical illusion that he shows in his TED Talk:


Technical Methodologies

In order to make his photographic ideas come to life, Johansson uses Photoshop to combine elements from different photographs.  Erik Johansson includes three rules when creating his photographs to achieve a realistic result:

  1. Photographs combined should have the same perspective
  2. Photographs combined should have the same type of light
  3. Seamless photographs: make it impossible to distinguish where the different images begin and end

Johansson matches colour, contrast, and brightness in order to make an image compressed of hundreds of different layers look like one singular image.

Formal Methodologies

In contrast to taking a good photograph by being in the right place at the right time, Johansson’s images require lots of planning. As a result of the heavy Photoshop editing that are contained in his images, the more he plans out the idea, the more realistic his image becomes. He starts this process by beginning with a sketch of an idea. Once he takes the photographs, the next step is combining them with Photoshop.

There is often informal balance in his images. The following are great examples of what I am interested in for my final project:

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“All of the tools are out there, the only thing that limits us is our imagination”. 

–  Erik Johansson

Pol Úbeda Hervàs: I’m Not There (Series)

Conceptual Methodologies

Each image has the same pair of shoes placed perfectly, then a shadow of a man wearing the shoes. These suggest a sort of “ghost-like” quality; similar to the images by Johansson, they are doctored images that appear as if they could exist in reality. They are meant to reference the fact who we are at this moment will disappear, but there will be a trail which remains as evidence of your past existence. This relates to the feeling he has that he is constantly changing. Furthermore, these images focus on photography is often human interaction with its surroundings, while these capture the absence of the human from these surroundings of industrial spaces. These are places that humans have created, enforcing the idea again that even if humans are not inhibiting these spaces, they still leave their mark by creating these spaces in the first place.

Technical Methodologies

I could not find anywhere the photographer explains his process, but I assume he had the help of another person, and a tripod. I’m assuming he took two images here, one where he is standing and wearing the shoes, and one where his shoes were placed in the same position where they were when he was standing. Then, I assume he merges the two images together with Photoshop by copying only his shadow in the image he is in, then dragging and aligning it onto the image of just his shoes.

Formal Methodologies

Each image only contains the shoes, shadow, and an empty background within an man-made space. There are no other powerful elements in the image to distract the viewer. There are often leading lines in these spaces, adding more interest for the viewer to allow further looking into the image.

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More References Images from Other Artists


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Photographer: Gustano Terzaghi

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Photographer: Laura Greco

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Photographer: Lee Materazzi


Collage Maker: Deger Bakir



Roger Newton: The DIY Lens Guy

One artist that really interested me is Roger Newton. He is a photographer who creates large abstract images and whose determination to create nonrepresentational work has lead him to create his own camera, lenses and film. He originally became interested in photography when he was attending art school in New York during the 1980s. It was during this time he discovered the pinhole camera and was at once drawn to the blurry and unpredictability of the images created. He would eventually go on to make numerous pinhole cameras eventually branching out to create lenses made of mineral oil, corn syrup, water, glycerin, or other refracting liquids. At one point taking a break from his photographic practice in order to research and develop the kind of black and white film he desired (Margarett, 2001). In his artist statement Newton goes to say that, “by designing and fabricating my own lenses I can control the quality of the light collected, the size and shape of the image field, and the colors in the scene. This allows me to work more directly with fundamental problems in the processes of seeing and perception, and ultimately the ontological problems of the thing and or scene depicted” (Foundation for Contemporary Arts, n.d.). He fabricates his photographs by layering up various liquid substances to create a lens. The lens purposely made to “exists out of the normal range of our visual faculties”. To reject standard photographic imaging systems and photography as a medium of representationalism. Instead focusing on the optical experience of looking.

bomb_59_newton3_body (1)newton_crary_01-e1338313743927-580x454


It is Newtons rejection of photo-representalism and focus on the methods of imaging making that interests me when looking at my own idea for the final project. The reason I say this is because for this project I will be continuing my role as art researcher, and focusing on unearthing photographic practices; removing all subjective interpretations and limiting definitions. Instead focusing on the facts, presently that means understanding photography as the use and manipulation of light to maintain an image. An image which as author and curator Lyle Rexler points out isn’t always based on realism (Rexer, 2013) . With this definition in mind I intend to conduct several experiments ones which like Newton’s will circulate around methods of light manipulation to produce what can be describe for all intensive purposed as undisclosed images. Always keeping in mind my definition of photography and excluding anything from this experiment which would distract or hinder it. A second reason I am interested in Newtons work is that his use of liquids to create lenses has given me another possibility to consider in my own experimentation and manipulation of light for this project. Other methods/ elements I’m looking at include (but not limited to); types of light sources, the chemical composition of types of light and things that give off light, Photographic paper manipulation, reflection/ refraction, filtered light, aperture, shutter speed/ exposure, light wave lengths, energy, Inference of light.



Foundation for Contemporary Arts. (n.d.). Roger Newton. Retrieved from Foundation for   the Contemporary arts web site:

Margarett, L. (2001, June 8). Photography Review; Reinventing the lens for large   abstraction. The New York Times.

Rexer, L. (2013). The Edge of Vision: The Rise of Abstraction in Photography. New York:   Apature.

Additional Sources

Micheal Paul Smith

About The Artist:

Micheal Paul Smith is an artist whose work concerns small toys in the place of real life objects, therefore, making realistic scenes through the use of plastic toys and thoughtful placement. He then photographs these scenes in a way that makes them look very convincing. He makes these photographs by creating a 1:24 scale ratio to recreate everyday scenes from the mid 20th century to -mid 60s America.

How did it begin?

Smith started off with an interest in making scale models of objects as well as an interest in photography. This combination later grew into something magical. He used his sculptural skills and photography skills to create convincing photographs of olden day scenes. Smith wanted to recreate the town in which he grew up in which was a town in America in the 20th century to mid 60s. His work is not an exact replica of the town he grew up in but it does what he wants it to do and that is to create the feeling of the town he grew up in and bring back his childhood memories.

How is it made?

The buildings are constructed of resin-coated paper, styrene plastic, and basswood, plus numerous found objects. The vehicles are from Michael’s collection of 300+ commercially produced, diecast models.

These photographs were all made through the use of placement. No Photoshop was used in these images; they’re all composed in the camera. He refers to it as  the oldest trick in the special effects book: lining up a model with an appropriate background, then photographing it.

How does his work relate to my work?

I am interested in a similar idea that Smith uses within his work. For my final project I am interested in taking recognizable items/objects, constructing a sculpture and then using photography to make the objects look like much more then they really are. Through photography I will change the reality of the object so it is seen as something different then what it is seen as in person. This relates to Smith’s work because he builds structures and then uses photography to change the structure he built into realistic photographs of a fictional town.

Progress photos vs final photos :


His Links:


Photography III: Final Project

The idea for my final project will stem off of Experiment #1: What is colour. Through this project I identified colour as a tangible object, that I was able to manipulate through photographic digital media. I would like to continue this experiment in order to develop a technical, and conceptual focus through the use of digital, and analogue practices. Inspiration has been identified from the following four artists: Jessica Eaton, Keith Rankin, Holly Roberts, Alex Mcleod. I found that each artist has contributed to my idea appropriately, and operate through a range of different photographic elements. I am interested in creating conflicting environments, subjects, and objects in my composition, which will contradict their physical spaces in their environments.


These are the images that were produced previously for Experiment #1

I hope to create surreal images based off the influences below.

Jessica Eaton


cfaal 519, 2015. archival pigment print 40 x 32 inches


Jessica Eaton, cfaal (mb RGB) 18, 2010, archival pigment print, 50 x 40 inches


cfaal 505, 2015. archival pigment print 40 x 32 inches


  • Great technical attention
  • Ability to create and identify conflicting colours, shapes
  • Experimentation with different ways of abstraction
  • Presentation quality

Keith Rankin


  • Integration of different gradients through the use of digital media
  • Interesting, compelling, confusing composition
  • Inspiration for the surreal

Holly Roberts


Horse Resting (2014)


Boy Barefoot Rider (2013)


A Bird I Saw Walking (2007)

  • Use of photographic elements which contribute to its creation
  • Interesting uses of imagery to explain the anatomy of nature
  • Inspiration for the photographic element of the project
  • Difficulty in the surreal

Alex Mcleod



Distant Lands (2011)


  • Environments created from digital media
  • Attention to colour composition, detail in each object
  • Compositions that are grand in detail and size

Julian Schulze


Photographer and artist based in Berlin who focuses on geometric abstraction and minimalistic compositions. His shots are often made up of one or two colours or elements and are of every day scenes, mostly architecture.

In his latest series Some Thoughts on Composition he states, “Whereas I think that these “rules” can be a useful guide for the beginner, I think that strictly following them (as suggested by the term “rule”) can seriously impede your success in finding interesting angles, interconnections, and the true character of a picture”. Relates to how I try to come up with new ideas, ignore rules in order to get better sense of certain aspects of a medium.



  • Takes images of geometric shapes with interplay of colors, turns image in order to create further abstraction.
  • Taken in natural setting in daylight.



  • Thinking outside the “rules” of photography can expand the possibilities even within the most common subject matter.
  • Giving viewer a different perspective on familiar subjects.



  • Each shot is composed using light, shadow, and color to create the illusion of a 2D scene within a 3D subject.
  • Minimal detail as well as unorthodox lines/angles give different perspective on familiar subjects.
  • Often little content within image in order to emphasis obscurity.
  • Shot frontally to emphasize 2D plane.Julian-Schulze-Photography-P13-6I feel that his work is a prime example of breaking the boundaries of what makes up photograph and creating something new out of familiar subject matter. This is the goal of my final project, to demonstrate a larger subject whist only providing minimal details. 


    Photogrist stuff. (2016). Geometric Abstraction and Minimalistic Compositions by Julian Schulze. Retrieved from

    DL Cade. (2017). 13 Beautiful Examples of Minimalist Photography by Julian Schulze. Retrieved from

    Julian Schulze. (2017). Julian Schulze Photography. Retrieved from








Matthew Brandt


Matthew Brandt is an American artist, born in Los Angeles, California in 1982; and is known for creating large-scale photographs through “labour-intensive processes” that elicit the origins of 19th century photography. The question Brandt most often refers to in his art is the questions of “What is a photograph?” A question we are very familiar with from our class work. Brandt calls his approach, “A little bit messy and experimental”, as he believes that in order to create distinctive images, he must first separate his work from the rest. His approach often incorporates the use of found materials from the locations in which he captures his images to further represent what he sees in front of him. This is evident in his series “Lakes and Reservoirs” (2011). Experimentation is a notion Brandt is familiar with as he states, “Only through experimentation can you arrive at something new” (Paginton, 2011).

Matthew Brandt has showcased works throughout the United States as well as Europe, and in November 2016, produced his third solo show at the Yossi Milo gallery titled, “Night Skies” (2016). Often combining methods of image-making, such as painting, silkscreen and photography, Brandt successfully creates innovate and experimental pieces that capture the attention of the viewer. Methods of alternative photography are often used by Brandt, as in his series, “La Brea” (2014), where he explored archeological subject matter through the use of a heliograph. (What is a heliograph?)

I am drawn to the work of Matthew Brandt because similar to him, I often use outside materials as a way of physically altering film to convey meaning. In my personal practice, I frequently manipulate the physicality of the image to further enhance the message, and question “what really is a photograph?” and “when does an image stop being a photo?” I enjoyed reading about Brandt’s similar approaches and am interested in his use of alternative photography as a way to create images.

Technically, Brandt uses a wide range of materials and resources to create his works as a way of deepening the meaning and relationship between the piece and the message it is trying to convey. Through the incorporation of natural material, Brandt is also able to create a unique relationship that physically connects the image to the place.  Conceptually, Brandt is attempting to create a physical connection between photo and place, and examines the overall notion of photographic materiality. Through the intentional destruction of the image, Brandt is undoing the process of photography and ultimately exposing hidden meanings that can exists between the photo and the place. This methodology is something that I would like to try and incorporate in my final project.

Paginton, F. “Matthew Brandt”. Dazed. 2011.

“Matthew Brandt”. Artspace. 2017.

“Matthew Brandt”. Yossi Milo Gallery. 2014.

“Process”. Harry Ransom Center. N.d.

Final Project Presentation: Chelsea Birnie

Performative Portraiture 

Francesca Woodman

Untitled 1975-80 by Francesca Woodman 1958-1981

Untitled, 1975-80, Gelatin silver print, 140 x 140 mm

Space?, Providence, Rhode Island, 1975-1978 1975-8 by Francesca Woodman 1958-1981

Space², Providence, Rhode Island, 1975-1978, Gelatin silver print, 140 x 140 mm


Self-Deceit #1, Roma, 1977-78, Gelatin silver print, 140 x 140 mm

Tim Clark


A Reading from the Lord’s Prayer, 1979. Performance at Mercer Union, Toronto. Photo: Alex Neuman


Some Thoughts on the Question of Limits in Art, 1979. Performance at Optica, Montreal.

Adrian Piper


Food for the Spirit #1, 1971, Gelatin Silver Print, 14.5 x 15″, ed. of 3


Catalysis IV, 1971, Geltain Silver Print, 40.6 x 40.6 cm

Jemima Stehli


Mirror no. 2, 2001, C-type print mounted on aluminium, 115 x 140 cm

Suzy Lake


Choreographed Puppet #4-5, 1976 (2007 reprint), Chromogenic print, 41 1/2″


Extended Breathing in the Garden, 2008-2010, Fuji-trans Print, Lightbox, 30 3/4″ x 44 3/4″ x 1 1/2″

Augustin Rebetez


Arrière-tête (mécanismes), 2014, Digital

experimental processes and possibilities

Cameraless photographer by Alison Rossiter
A darkroom player who uses expired photographic papers from the 19th & 20th century to make pictures. Rossiter employs two processes in her work, time and darkroom play. She seeks out in boxes of expired photographic papers latent images left behind- fingerprints, mold, light leaks etc. – that can only be made by time. Or she selectively develops photographic papers by dipping and pouring, allowing the chemistry to make marks and shapes.
Video: Rossiter explains her work

Alison Rossiter (American, born 1953) Haloid Platina, exact expiration date unknown, about 1915, processed 2010 2010 Gelatin silver print

Alison Rossiter (American, born 1953)
Haloid Platina, exact expiration date unknown, about 1915, processed 2010
Gelatin silver print

Alison Rossiter Eastman Kodak Velox, expired August 1941, processed 2013

Alison Rossiter
Eastman Kodak Velox, expired August 1941, processed 2013

Chemical creations by Mariah Robertson

Robertson’s image making process is all about chemical reactions and chance on photographic paper, led by instinct and informed by her formal experiences in the darkroom. The resulting abstractions are the result of experiments with darkroom chemistry, temperature and time (15hrs per 100′ roll).

Video: Mariah Robertson ART21 Close Up

Mariah Robertson 267, 2014 unique chemical treatment on RA-4 paper 73 x 88 x 2-3/4 inches

Mariah Robertson
267, 2014
unique chemical treatment on RA-4 paper
73 x 88 x 2-3/4 inches

Mariah Robertson Part Picture • group show at the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art (MoCCA), Toronto • May 2 - 31, 2015

Mariah Robertson
Part Picture • group show at the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art (MoCCA), Toronto • May 2 – 31, 2015

Alchemical quest of Ilan Wolff

Wolff’s series 4-Elements uses light (obviously) and the elements air, fire, water and earth. Heat for fire and earth, cold for water and for air the classic technique employing light energy. The images in his 4-Elements series record the chemical interactions that take place when photographic paper is subjected to an element as well as reveal a sensation of the element.

Ilan Wolff - 4 Elements Series - Water

Ilan Wolff – 4 Elements Series – Water

Ilan Wolf - 4 Elements Series - Earth

Ilan Wolf – 4 Elements Series – Earth

Website: Ilan Wolff’s website gallery

Rossiter, Robertson and Wolff all use performance and chance in combination with darkroom techniques in the processes of their work.

untitled artifact

untitled artifact