THE SCIENCE OF PAINTING |
Roy Amiss, Feb.2004
Although what I make is ‘experimental’, it is I believe truly classical in the renaissance sense of the word. What people usually call classical art, is merely the appearance, the look of the thing – classical reduced to just style – the mimicking of visual characteristics of the period. My sense of classical, is one of perfection, realism, curiosity, invention, enquiry, scientific exploration, humility, empowerment, sublimity, the aesthetic, wonderment, logic, knowledge and enlightenment; I am pursuing the logic of appearances – the order of things.
It is a question of attitude or approach. Whilst it has been convenient for art historians to regard Seurat as a post-impressionist, in my eyes he is really a classical artist in the sense that I have defined
The methods I use in painting are a mixture of traditional and modern media: mathematics is used to establish precise colour mixtures; computers spreadsheets are used to calculate pigment quantities; laboratory syringes are required to accurately measure liquid volumes of paint; a digital balance used to weigh precise paint additives; and the camera and computer to capture photographic images.
Recently I have conducted experiments to make improvements in my colour mixing to achieve perfect colour balances - psychophysical methods developed in the 19c by such luminaries as Fechner and Weber, are deployed in colour experiments aimed at measuring the precise degree of sensations of colour and brightness. Their laws, in mathematical form, are necessary in the preparation of each painting. Colours are compared through repeated observations in order to determine scales of values that form the basis of accurate colour mixing.
I have worked extensively with mesh screens, constructing paintings in two separate layers, each a different colour. I started using nylon net stretched over frames, and now I’m painting onto steel mesh. These type of works I have dubbed hand painted holographs as they have the appearance of holographic images due to the moiré effect generated by the 2 mesh screens in close proximity, and the tonal balance created between them. The result of painting on these meshes creates a kind of light sculpture, where image and moiré effect combine to create a 3D illusion. It must be emphasised that this effect is not visible from just looking at photographs of the works; you have to observe the work firsthand to truly appreciate it (owing to the phenomenon of motion parallax and the precise colour balance between the two screens).
The exploitation of unorthodox materials and their optical qualities extend to the creation of various objects such as the tower of babel; a glass tower of bottles each filled with water and refracting images from behind the bottles, which creates the effect that the tower appears to rotate in the opposite direction as you walk round it.
Inside microwave ovens I have installed specific electronic light circuits that illuminate anaglyphic images inside, generating stereoscopic appearances, an invention I have called the stereoscopic flickergraph. Again you cannot see the effect just from a photograph!
Thus Art has become a science, a feat of engineering, a mathematical problem, the product of a restless curiosity – and it is these activities that align myself with the spirit of the renaissance – the enlightenment.
Roy Amiss, Feb. 2004