• 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

    Have you ever wondered what the world might have looked like after the great Old Testament flood? What bizarre events might have followed such a freak occurrence in weather? Me neither. It’s honestly never crossed my mind. But illustrator Samuel Branton has been fixating on the idea, imagining the strange fusion of land and sea that a tumultuous rise in water levels might effect. He’s gone one step further and illustrated these fictional scenarios in miniature, taking this Regency medium and making it weird. Witness crabs beating up a wild boar, monkeys tossing an elephant in the air and a sad old sperm whale incapacitated in a tree. And Deluge is available in book form too!

  2. Aakash-itsnicethat-list

    When we last wrote about Aakash Nihalani we described his practice as a series of interventions, and now that he has graduated from playful street art compositions to full blown technological mind-blowers, that vaguery seems even more apt. His newest piece sees him create a series of interactive installations which respond to the movements of the subject stood in front of them. The video demonstrates it better than I could ever hope to, so wrap your eyes around it and try to keep your jaw off the floor. Aakash is entering a new age, people; just imagine the possibilities!

  3. Ines-longevial-itsnicethat-list

    Inès Longevial is an art director and illustrator based in Paris, whose beautiful paintings of intertwined bodies are likely to have you looking twice. She breaks up the human figure into segments in a fashion Picasso himself would admire, rendering different parts in contrasting but muted colour palettes to disguise the physicality of her subjects. The effect is quite beguiling; hands play across hips and colour distinctions hint at the seams of clothes, but nothing is clear cut. It’s a geometric play on anatomy, and it has clients including fashion brand Amélie Pichard and sportswear giants Nike coming back for more.

  4. Hannahwaldron-itsnicethat-list

    “I wish I knew how to weave,” I found myself sighing longingly while clicking through Hannah Waldron’s portfolio. The UK-based multi-disciplinary artist and designer has transitioned seamlessly from grid-based image-making to create works in textile form since completing an MFA in Textiles at Konstfack, Sweden, and it looks like she’s well at home in the medium. Map Tapestries is a series of woven works inspired by various city scenes – Kreuzberg, NYC and Venice, for example – in bright colours, evocative shapes and simple geometric forms, and it’s wonderful.

  5. Jen-stark-whirl-side-int-10

    If it isn’t broke then there’s absolutely no need to even think about fixing it, as artist Jen Stark is fully aware, and there’s nothing broken about her geometric papercut sculptures. The LA-based artist has been making such work for literally as long as It’s Nice That has been running – here’s the first time we ever posted about her, back in 2007 – and although her work continues to grow in intricacy, she’s stayed true to her roots. These days her sculptures are made more and more often inside huge, unassuming black and white boxes, recreating the feeling that you’re a child about to unbundle a giant parcel of joy on Christmas morning, and they’re still as impressive as they were eight years ago.

  6. Everybody-razzle-dazzle-1-photo-mark-mcnulty-int-list

    Sir Peter Blake has designed this fabulous dazzle ship, a Mersey Ferry that will carry commuter passengers for the next two years. Named Everybody Razzle Dazzle, Sir Peter says it’s his “largest artwork to date,” and that he was “honoured and excited to have been asked to design a dazzle image for the iconic Mersey Ferry.”

  7. Boyocollage-int-list

    Some budding young design talents fresh out of university might harbour resentment about being thrust into a new job at a design studio as a “photocopier boy” (his words), but Patrick Waugh is not one of them. Instead he took full advantage of the rich archive at his disposal in his earliest and most junior jobs to make copies. Lots of them. And then took a scalpel and some masking tape to them, and transformed them into something altogether more exciting.

  8. Stephenabela-int-main

    At first, Stephen Abela’s images are all glorious bronzed bodies, sun-drenched beaches and hazy holiday reveries. But beneath the heat, there’s something else at play too, which feels a little more disquieting. In that oft-cited Edward Hopper thing: even in the densely populated scenes there feels like there’s a loneliness. Even the speech bubbles are lonely – in fact, they’re vacant – suggesting that for all the beautiful scenery, the folk that populate it aren’t quite sure what to say or what to do. There’s a joy there, for sure, but the great thing about Stephen’s work is this complexity, and the sense that all isn’t necessarily as it seems.

  9. Int-list-carsten-holler-pic

    Merging the fun of the playground with the beauty and cerebral qualities of art, a slide will transport visitors to the Hayward Gallery entrance this summer thanks to the forthcoming Carsten Höller show, Decision.

  10. Traceyemin-mybed-int-

    Sometimes I don’t really “get” modern art, but I get Tracey Emin’s My Bed. She displayed it as a piece of art in 1998 after practically living in it for about a month following a bad breakup. Back then she was rake-thin and impish with an appetite for booze and fags, in that odd age where you’re left to fend for yourself but are not perhaps quite ready.

  11. Serenmorganjones-int-list

    With the centenary of British women receiving the partial vote coming up shortly, artist Seren Morgan Jones decided it was time to focus on the Welsh suffragists who helped to make it happen. “I think it is important to show that there is more to Wales and its history than coal mining, rugby and men,” she explains, “and to draw people’s attention to the fact Welsh women were so involved in the fight for women’s rights.”

  12. List-welcome_to_neu_friedenwald_by-laura-jung

    To say that the announcement from David Lynch that Twin Peaks was returning was met with excitement is something of an understatement. It was, as is to be expected, met with rabid levels of hysteria – or at least as rabid as those cool enough to adore the show would willingly articulate – and we’re still a good year away from seeing it on screen. This year is the show’s 25-year anniversary, and to mark the occasion, something very special is afoot in Berlin.

  13. Samchirnside-int-list

    I don’t know what it is about seeing colours up close that’s so mesmerising, but Sam Chirnside is all over it. The Melbourne and New York-based artist works predominantly with oil paints to create strangely beautiful distortions, which work best when overlaid with a band logo to create album artwork, or cut out in geometric shapes. His works resemble planetary compositions straight out of a senior school physics textbook or a happy spillage in an art classroom, and we can’t get enough of them.