• Js1

    Jim Sanborn: Longsturn County Cork, Ireland, 1997

  • Js2

    Jim Sanborn: Kilkee County Claire, Ireland, 1997

  • Js3

    Jim Sanborn: Horse Valley, Utah IV, 1995

  • Js5

    Jim Sanborn: Bandon, Oregon II, 1997

  • Js4

    Jim Sanborn: Green River, Utah, 1997

  • Js6

    Jim Sanborn: Cainville, Utah, 1995

  • Js7

    Jim Sanborn: Notom, Utah, 1995

Art

Jim Sanborn: The Topographic Projections and Implied Geometries Series

Posted by Rob Alderson,

We came across these jaw dropping images on Today and Tomorrow and were fascinated to find out how they were made. Here the artist Jim Sarnborn explains how the project came about, how the images were taken and how he brought an American interstate to a standstill…

“The topographic projections developed in this way, a year before this project I did a commission for the MIT microbiology department in Cambridge, Massachussets, I used a very powerful projector to project an image of a microscopic slide on a white marble disk on the floor of the entrance to the microbiology building.

“The slides were interchangeable and were provided by me and the lab scientists to reflect the things they were seeing through their microscopes. The projector cost about $50,000 – I could not afford to buy one for myself so I copied it precisely and made my own using only their lenses, for a couple thousand dollars. The slides I used were about 12” square.

“I had many different grids and patterns made on black film with clear lines. I practiced long range projections on warehouses near my studio in Washington DC and I also made small landscape models with trees and rocks and projected slides onto them to test the angles etc.

“When I was satisfied with the results I bought a generator, piled all the equipment into a jeep and headed out west to work. I was very familiar with the areas and landforms I projected onto because I had been visiting these places for many years as I found these places inspiring.

“In 1995, computer-generated photographic imagery was just getting started and I felt that it would be ironic to make images that appeared computer-generated but were not. In fact in order to have made these works with a computer would have required almost more effort than doing it the way I did “the hard way”.

“I would drive many miles off-road to a remote site where city and car lights could not reach. I used a hand-held device I made to determine, during the day, how far away the projector and camera had to be and at what angle as well.

“That night I would set up the equipment, test the result and I usually had to adjust the angles again before shooting. This was in the fall, sometimes 15-20 degrees Farenheit ,very cold and very windy.

“The equipment was heavy – 200lbs on the projector 100lbs on the generator , a 4×5 camera with 100lbs of sand bags to keep it from vibrating in the wind.

“In Ireland because of the boglands I had to pour concrete footers under the camera tripod. I was at the camera, my assistant operated the projector, we communicated by CB radio – I would tell her to turn on the projection and when to turn it off and use a searchlight to illuminate the landscape if there was no moonlight.

“I usually shot eight 4x5 images per night, exposures ranging from 10 to 40 minutes depending on the moon. What you see in the photos is what it looked like in real life at the site.

“The images were so strong on one night that it caused a semi truck traffic jam on Interstate 80 in Wyoming – the interstate was four miles away but the truckers thought it was some sort of “beam me up scotty” moment!

“After shooting, we would drive all night to get the film developed in Denver to see if it had to be re-shot the next night – full moons do not last long. All in all, I got 22 images that I am happy with over a three season period (1995, 1996, 1997). Most people though assumed they were computer generated – they missed the point.

“My memories of those nights are very clear and magical – the sky was amazing, many stars and shooting stars and even a UFO, or at least something in the sky I could not explain.

“I am currently developing a body of work about the global trade in looted antiquities, and just returned from Cambodia and Angkor Wat where I was studying the problem.”

Ra

Posted by Rob Alderson

Editor-in-Chief Rob oversees editorial across all three It’s Nice That platforms; online, print and events. He has a background in newspaper journalism and a particular interest in art, advertising and photography. He is the main host of the Studio Audience podcast.

Most Recent: Art View Archive

  1. List-kerry-james-marshall_-plunge_-1992.

    There’s a raw, energetic feel to the work of Kerry James Marshall – it’s all bold brushstrokes and bright colours that can’t help but channel a sense of movement and action. The Alabama-born artist now lives in Chicago, and manages to get that raw, outsider art feel combined with a rigorous eye for colour and composition. The works that have particularly pulled us in are the ones that capture their subject in a moment of repose or rapture, whether quietly sunning themselves, looking in the mirror or diving into a pool. They’re the unposed moments where people are truly themselves, and Kerry’s brushes articulate them beautifully.

  2. Universaleverything-sydneyoperahouse-itsnicethat-list

    It may be my former life as a hack but there’s something about the word “biggest” that always piques my interest. That said, ambition only gets you so far and you can’t sacrifice skill or style in a headlong rush for scale. With Universal Everything though, you needn’t worry. On Friday the studio created its largest projection to date, lighting up the iconic sails of the Sydney Opera House with hand-drawn animations from 22 of the world’s best creatives. Every year the landmark commissions an artist to work on its curves and Matt Pyke and his team jumped at the chance to take on an opportunity that “epitomises everything we strive for.”

  3. Linus_bill_adrien_horni_ny_karg_catalogue_2014_it's_nice_that_list

    Swiss art duo Linus Bill and Adrien Horni’s ongoing collaboration has produced a great body of irreverent, experimental work. They first joined forces in 2011 when they were invited to produce the artistic supplement of the Swiss Art Directors Club advertising awards. Controversially, they turned the notion of award-winning design it on its head by producing a Xeroxed, deconstructed version celebrating the refused entries. This kind of do-it-yourself subversion has been the undercurrent running through everything the two image-makers (and breakers) have done since.

  4. Michaelcraig-martin-onbeinganartist-istnicethat-list

    In some circumstances, calling a book On Being An Artist would seem pretentious and pompous, but if anyone knows about being an artist, it’s Michael Craig-Martin. Over his extraordinary career he has studied with Chuck Close and Richard Serra, met the likes of Andy Warhol, Jasper Johns, John Cage and Charles Saatchi, had work shown at Tate Modern, the Pompidou Centre and MoMA, and taught some of the YBAs’ leading lights including Damien Hirst and Sarah Lucas.

  5. Ricco_maresca_mexican_pulp_art_its_nice_that_list_2

    Ballsy, bizarre and a little bit racy, these Mexican pulp fiction book covers are fantastic fun and epitomise our need for a bit of weird naughtiness. The kitsch-factor is overwhelming as scantily clad women run away in terror, a man in purple spandex is surrounded by adoring cats and giant robots menacingly pick up shiny red cars.

    As part of an exhibition at New York gallery Ricco Maresca held earlier this year, the collection is a celebration of pulp paperbacks released in Mexico during the 60s and 70s. Many of the artists remain unidentified which is a shame as some of these are absolute gems. Without book titles, there’s no context for the artwork and we’re left with the ordinary and extraordinary crashing into each other in glorious fashion. According to Ricco Maresca, there’s a key difference between Mexican pulp art and the American pulp art coming out at the same time. As well as the drama and sauciness, much of Mexican pulp art prominently featured violence, sci-fi, psychedelia, and crime, making it all the more outrageous.

  6. Yayoi-kusama-itsnicethat-list

    Yayoi Kusama is one of few artists who is seems to be without comparison. Her new exhibition, Give Me Love takes place at New York’s David Zwirner gallery, and features a collection of her enormous brightly coloured canvases. Their sunny dispositions are undercut with titles which reveal a more disquieting undertone for example I Who Cry in the Flowering Season, or I Am Dying Now There the Death Is. In another room a series of her bulging Pumpkin sculptures, reminiscent of decaying fruit in spite of their metallic sheen and polka dot finish, reinforces the juxtaposition of the joyous and the sinister.

  7. Brest_history_and_chips_it's_nice_that_list

    Imagine a John Stezaker collage let loose in the kitchen and you’ve got the History and Chips series from Brest Brest Brest. With a portfolio that includes a poster of Elvis Presley’s face emerging from a melting ice cream, the graphic design studio based in the south of France couldn’t fail to pique our interest. For their playful History and Chips collages, Rémy Poncet and Arnaud Jarsaillon have raided the fridge and dressed up classic movie stills and vintage portraits with everything from smoked salmon and mustard, to ham and pineapple. A testament to the fact that food makes everything better, these old pictures are given a new lease of life thanks to a little bubblegum and a wry sense of humour.

  8. Olafur_eliasson_the_weather_project_it's_nice_that

    This week the most visited modern and contemporary art museum in the world celebrates its 15 year anniversary. After its transformation from derelict power station to beloved beacon of British culture, Tate Modern has defined a generation and helped open art to the everyman. Here, we look at some of the top moments over the last decade and a half at Britain’s leading arts institution.

  9. Kings-cross-pond-ooze-architects-its-nice-that-list

    I’ve slid down an art installation before thanks to Carsten Höller, and I’ve frolicked about in a room full of balloons thanks to Martin Creed, but never before had I literally swum in art until this morning. Bright and early, there I was shivering in art, thanks to a bathing pond art installation in a building site in London’s King’s Cross. The piece, formally known as Of Soil and Water: the King’s Cross Pond Club , was created by Ooze Architects (Eva Pfannes and Sylvain Hartenberg) and artist Marjetica Potrč, and takes the form of a natural, chemical-free pool, complete with plants and bushes. And who knows what else – I didn’t dare think what one day could be lurking in there after the maggoty old python Hampstead Heath ponds story of a few years back. 

  10. List

    They wowed us in 2010 with their pop-up cinema in an old petrol station in Clerkenwell, The Cineroleum, and the following year they won us over with Folly for a Flyover in Hackney Wick. Now, after 15 years of transforming unusual spaces, the east London collective Assemble has been shortlisted for the 2015 Turner Prize for the revival of a cluster of derelict terraced houses in Liverpool, Granby Four Streets. Borne out of the DIY-culture and the flurry of pop-ups like Bold Tendencies that took London by storm a few years ago, the collective of 18 designers and architects is an exciting choice, and a first for the often sensational art prize.

  11. List-erik-kessels-unfinished-father_002-its-nice-that

    Kesselskramer co-founder Erik Kessels’ side projects usually seem light-hearted: take his book Attack of the Giant Fingers, for instance. His latest project, though, has a decidedly more serious slant, having been borne of his father suffering a stroke. For the project, named Unfinished Father, Erik looked to his pa’s passion for restoring Fiat 500 (Topolino) cars. Prior to his stroke, Kessels senior was halfway through completing his fifth of such restorations, but it was left unfinished since the attack left him barely able to move or speak.

  12. List-jeremy-deller-vinyl-factory-venice-biennale-its-nice-that

    All-round superdude Jeremy Deller has created a jukebox for the Venice Biennale. But instead of Fleetwood Mac’s Go Your Own Way or other pub staples like Russ Abbott’s Atmosphere, it plays only the sounds of factories. Cleverly named Factory Records, the piece contains 40 seven-inch records, each of which features the ambient sound of a different factory. Visitors to the piece can put on whichever they fancy, and if they really like it, they will be able to buy the sounds as a limited-edition box set designed by Deller with Fraser Muggeridge and released by The Vinyl Factory. The work continues Deller’s ongoing investigations into English working-class concerns, and links to his Venice Biennale performative piece, which uses archive materials to look at factory working conditions from the 19th Century to the present day.

  13. Robertnicol-itsnicethat-list

    It’s been a few years now since we posted the work of artist, illustrator and Camberwell tutor Robert Nicol, but our tardiness only means there’s a heap of new work for us to enjoy in his portfolio. From paintings to book covers, editorial illustrations to ceramic sculptures, Rob’s able to turn his versatile talents to a number of different ends. It’s interesting to look at his work together and see how he can amplify or refine certain traits depending on the job in hand. So we have his wonderful paintings where bold colours and surreal characters are given free rein, contrasted with his stylish book covers where hints of narrative achieve a lot in a quieter context.