Silhouettes and Light Pollution

March 17, 2005

Silhouettes have always captivated me. There's something about the complexity of form being reduced to a flat shape that I find visually compelling. I'm sure my Pavlovian response to high contrast is another factor in my strong admiration of the backlit form. Over the past few years I've created a number of drawn silhouette works; a few of them deriving from photographic sources that weren't silhouettes in the first place. In each instance I believed that an image of a silhouette would require less work than other imagery, and in each instance I was wrong.

I think the finest silhouette work I've created to date is a night time version of Blossom, in which the sky behind the cherry tree has been stained with a red wine color to mimic the light polluted night of a dense urban area. As a city kid, I always considered the night to be a purplish expanse that occasionally sported a few pin pricks of light at the uppermost part of the dome overhead. Only during those instances where I would go camping, or drive myself out to the Pacific and look out over the water, did I get a sense of how dark night can actually be. 

I never succeeded in photographing this dark version of Blossom— the low contrast between the sky and silhouette made it unbelievably hard to achieve sharp focus, and the silver sheen of the graphite couldn't be eliminated entirely in order to obtain an accurate representation of the drawing. The best I ever got was this small detail:


Cole Buzan said...

The second photo reminds me of pressed paper and flower oil. I would personally flip it and keep it here in my living room as a work of art.

It is beautiful to me.

Cheers, mate!

Jeffrey T. Baker said...

If you flipped it you'd have a cherry bush, which, though I'm no botanist, seems to fall more into the realm of fantasy.

Of course, up until the age of twenty I thought that pickles grew on bushes, so my ideas of fantasy and reality are really only based upon my feeble structure of life experience.