©Copyright Colin Southgate FRPS 2017

THE VORTICIST WITHIN

Help!  I've been taken over by an alien species; the Vorticists have got me!  Sounding like something out of Doctor Who, this short-lived movement in British art existed around the time of the Great War, having been inspired by the Italian Futurists and Cubism too.  I think they have been creeping up on me for some time, as my interest in the graphic arts has increased over the years.  Certainly my renewed interest in photographing reflections and my passion for multiple and mirrored images has led to a realisation that the Vorticists were exploring similar ideas in their paintings a hundred years ago. Alvin Langdon Coburn incorporated these ideas into his photography by using mirrors to multiply the subject being photographed.  He called them vortographs.

A visit to the London Art Fair of Modern and Contemporary Art recently was like being caught in a perfect storm of creativity.  Paintings, art prints, sculpture and photography too, proclaimed that there are no limits to what we may attempt artistically.  The overlap between photography and the other arts has never been more clearly demonstrated.  I came away feeling vindicated in my own desire to make ever stranger pictures.

The photographs that form the basis for the pictures shown here quite often involve strong lines and bold design.  Modern buildings are prime candidates, as are out of town shopping malls.  There are  number of ways to develop the image but most involve copying the original image several times, flipping over and possibly rotating the layers individually in the Transform menu in Photoshop and possibly stretching the layer too.  With each copy layer set to 50% opacity in the layers palette it is possible to see the image building up and adjust or discard layers as you go along.  

A straight forward composite may, after adjusting with levels, prove sufficient but as with all creative things experiment is the key word.  For example a copy of the composite layers could be used to make a monochrome find edges layer which can be blended back with the composite image.  Alternatively plug-ins such as Topaz may have a filter, Blueprint for example, that provides a more intense effect.  If the original image is in colour then substantial diffusion and increased saturation of that colour could be used to infuse the composite with colour, again experimenting with the blending modes on both the composite and original layers.

In a further development of the above, inspired by Valda Bailey (see link below), I am now trying to create the composite image in camera and thus leave less to be done in Photoshop afterwards.  The three pictures below consist of three exposures on one frame in camera which was then Inverted in Photoshop, the adjustment layer being blended in Pin light mode.

I increasingly see photography as an integrated part of the arts scene, being used by artists in their creations and they in their turn influencing photographers to reach out to the art world.  I have previously written of my love of art prints such as linocuts and etchings, and think some of the pictures shown here might make interesting linocuts.  Having seen  Picasso linocuts at the art fair I feel that his pictures were absolutely made to be linocuts, and having now discovered the linocuts of Cyril Power my feeling is that I am only at the beginning of this journey. 

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