A blog by Bradley Phillips

Saturday, August 28, 2010


Barnaby Ward

Mike Mitchell

A picture is worth a thousand words.
-Napoleon Bonaparte

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Charles Burchfield -A Space Odyssey

The Burchfield Penny Art Center here in buffalo is ending its exhibition Heat Waves In A Swamp, paintings by Charles Burchfield in 2 weeks. It is free to Buffalo State students and only $5 for others students. The gallery has set up the exhibition chronologically, and the walk through the gallery is a visual journey through the life of Charles Burchfield.

Charles early watercolor work is simple, so simple in fact it reminds me of the type of work one might see at a high school art show. While it might be easy to brush off these works, they gallery makes a distinct effort to place emphasis on them. Each image is accompanied by a small insight taken from messages by Charles to the then MoMA curator Alfred Barr. It quickly becomes evident the importance of these images. To me what separates them from high school art is their content relevance. While a student spends much of their time searching for a style and subject matter that fits his or her prose, Charles early work touches on 3 majors topics that would define his work through out his life. The first being medium, second being the his expression of the human condition, and third his perspective and connection to nature (this one is important because some interesting things start going on in his work based on this topic).

His work, while progressing in visual style, hits a division that is clearly noticeable and seems almost odd at first. It is his fanciful landscapes that he is known for, but within his work are a few pieces that almost seem reminiscent of Edward Hopper. Edward's potential influence is questionable, however within these watercolor paintings is a connection with his "classic" work that took me some time to unravel. The key for me to understanding these almost separate pieces was having a lifetime of works at my immediate viewing disposal. Among his classically styled works are a number that focus on storms and weather but more specifically the condition of nature, almost like a parallel to the condition of man. Once one can understand that Charles's connection to nature is one much like the connection to a friend; sharing mutual affection, bond, sympathy and trust it becomes evident of his intention to subjectively exemplify both the beauty of nature, the terror of nature, and the horror of mans industrial affect on nature. Because it is this juxtaposition of the tragic and depressive with the beauty and character of nature that bonds the two styles together.

On a side note, anyone who has read C.S. Lewis' Space Trilogy will greatly appreciate the fanciful quality of Charles work.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The meeting points of machine and nature

I have been drawing lately. Now that I'm putting pen to paper again it is reminding me of how long it has been since doing it last with the intent to just draw. Usually I only sketch out images I plan on shooting which are... VERY rough. However I used to love to draw, Its all I did in high school. I would take the paper book covers you would get at the beginning of school and turn them inside out so that the outside of my books where blank. Then I would proceed to spend the entire year trying to make drawings that would connect in various ways until the book was completely covered -effectively keeping my books closed all year. I often wish I had held on to some of those book covers - I digress.

In any case I started a sketch in which a bonsai like tree is suspended in air, its roots dangling down beneath it. Within the roots are three cogs or gears acting as the heart of the tree. I'll post the image when I have finished it. While making the drawing I wondered what bonsai tree roots look like, so I google'd it. Right there on the first page was this image of a Steven Panarelli wire sculpture tree, something I had to share. After exploring the parent site I could not help but be drawn to Stevens sculptures. They have such fantastic movement to them. Even though each one is fatalistically tied to the foundation upon which it stands, the branches, and sometimes roots, reach out in fanciful ways. The sculptures where the roots are visible seem far more effective at displaying this relationship between reality and myth. I find the the symbolism between the purpose of the roots and the purpose of branches and leafs fascinating. Both the leaf and the root together allow trees to be completely self sustaining, exhibiting a perfect flow of energy. The art of balance, Feng Shui, practiced on a tree cannot be mere coincidence.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Great quote about the work of Eriwn Wurm

"Art so often is burdened by its self-declared importance: look I am so meaningful. Here art seems to be at ease: playful and light-handed."
-Zoltan Jokays on Erwin Wurm

Yesterday I received an email from the University at Buffalo accepting me into their MFA program. Needless to say I am very excited! I feel all my hard work has been validated. For a while I was not sure what I wanted to do with my life (career), and after applying to graduate school on a whim last year and not getting in, I found myself realizing what I had missed out on. I hope my time at UB will enlightening, and productive.

Thursday, January 21, 2010


I do not remember how I stumbled on Michael Salter's work. A screen shot of what I came across has been sitting on my desktop for months now. Today I was clearing my desktop of unnecessary files and found it again. Michael's work is pretty neat, he is a Digial Art Professor at the University of Oregon and he builds awesome robots out of packaging foam, he calls them "styrobots". What I really like about them is their size, though not all are huge, he has made them up to 22 ft tall. Another cool thing is they are so impractical as a aesthetic art, while stunning to see, they are made of a material that is in no way archival and the larger ones are so big you would need a room simply dedicated to its awesomeness. But what really draws me to them is how fun they are, while a giant robot made from the by product of modern consumerism has a load of meaning and depth, they are exciting to see and enjoy. Sometimes I forget to enjoy art, because it is so often used as a forum to debate and express ideas on life, death, politics, the human condition etc... bla bla bla (all important ideas and uses) But a reason we all make art aside from its purpose is enjoyment of making it.

HERE is a short video of a team assembling one of his giant "styrobots" at San Jose Museum of Art as part of the exhibit Robots:evolution of a Cultural Icon.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


I've come across a few really great artists lately who are not photographers. This got me thinking about a question Scott Chandler posed "what is the difference between an artist who uses photography as a medium and a photographer." I would like to believe that we are all artists and typecasting us to our chosen / current medium is a travesty. However I feel the real insult is how photography can be neglected as art. (just some food for thought)

In any case here is the work of Brian M. Viveros. Brian's work is dark and iconic. Though each image presents a heroine in various states of macabre, each are decorated with a flower, a cigarette, and various military garb. Although beautiful, the images seem to express a less glamorous side of life - to the point of being a presentation of a pauperized or war consumed society.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Some News

I have some news to share. First of all I forgot to mention that in October I spoke at a photography lecture series titled Snap Shots. It was really fun, and we had a great turn out. The discussions that followed each speaker were both entertaining and engaging. UB's web site featured the poster and press release and can be found HERE.

In other news, my photograph "The Pilot" (the picture of Hayden's head in the clouds) will be featured in Creative Quarterly Issue #17 and a portrait of Hayden I submitted depicting him as an inspiration of my work will be used for the cover of the issue. The Issue should drop sometime in the next four weeks.

Also that same image will be in the 24th International Juried Show at Visual Arts Center of New Jersey, On January 15 - March 19, 2010. The opening recption will be Friday, January 15, 6-8pm. The Juror, Susan Kismaric, is the Curator of the Department of Photography at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

I officially attended my last class of the semester, a critique in a sub freezing warehouse and I feel the class was an extremely important and valuable forum to further my work. Nevertheless, now that its over I cant say I'm not happy because I have a lot to do!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Young artists flourish in local galleries

Another article, this time from Buffalo Spree. Although this one does not directly discuss my work it covers the course and the faculty member I have been working with Sylvie Bélanger.


Saturday, December 5, 2009

Abolition of Man

So its been a crazy fall! Last night was the opening of my show Abolition of Man at Buffalo Artspace Gallery, and the turn out was amazing. The feedback I received was very positive and I feel it was a very successful evening.

For those who could not make it here are a few pictures of the space and a link to my web site -which I've updated with the new work. Also the local newspaper did a little cover on the event and it can be found here.


Friday, November 20, 2009

More Work

So, I'm supposed to be having a show in December, however my contact at the gallery -Artspace Buffalo- seems to be avoiding me or he is just taking his sweet time getting back to me. In any case I've begun looking for an alternate space, in the inevitable case of Artspace falling through. I have a lot of new work here is a digital polaroid of a shoot I did today. I'm really linking the series, even though their purpose has changed a bit since conception.

Monday, October 26, 2009

New Work

I'm working on a new series of images on what at first was based on mans desire to fly. It is evolving into something more, but as of right now what it is becoming is quite nebulous. But I wanted to post this anyway, just to get it out there. Lots more to come. Maybe it will solidify as time goes on.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Kinetic Sculpture

I am blind. How have I not been aware of it before. I stumbled upon it quite accidentally. This past weekend I had the pleasure to visit the wonderful city of Boston Massachusetts. A beautiful place rich in history and heritage. During my stay I went to the MIT Museum, attracted by their Robots and Beyond exhibit (surprise, surprise) and a Holography exhibit. What I did not expect was their ongoing Arthur Ganson exhibition. While the robotics and holograms were fun, Arthur's work was practically a visual revelation for me. I literally felt as though someone slapped me in the face and peeled back my eyelids at the same time. Everything that has been on my mind, retro-futurism, utopia, man vs. machine, the revolutionary sublime, cultural dystopia etc.... All questions I had been asking in my own work he presents within his sculptures.

For a long time now I have been very connected with the building and preparing of the objects that I photograph. This infatuation has become in many ways more important then the image it self. This concept of moving sculpture as art has opened my eyes to the artistic value in sculpture its self. One in which, to be honest, I had placed little value.

Each photograph is a link to the video to several Kinetic Sculptures each having their own set of strengths. Arthur Ganson’s work is complex and delicate. Tim Prentince’s work is fluid and organic. And Theo Jansen is pure brilliance, and almost unbelievable. Watch them in order for the greatest impact.

When I get the time I fully intent on attempting to create a machine for sculptures sake.

Here is a longer video on Theo Jansen

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Uta Barth

I just finished reading an interview of Uta Barth by Matthew Higgs from the book pressPlay: Contemporary Artists in Conversation. Uta's work is very different from my own, so at first I found it difficult to relate or even understand her intentions. Her images consist of mostly of empty spaces both interior and exterior. Other recurring elements are soft light and out of focus images. One cant help but get the immediate feeling of seclusion and desolation. Despite Uta's direct denial of this as the intent of the images, even Matthew Higgs couldn't help but recognize a viewers natural tendency to pull visceral emotion out of the images.

On further discussion and review, I started to understand Uta's desire to merely use the image as a optical device. The photograph for her becomes an object, one in which has meaning much like a old shirt. Her images document a time and place for her, and by forcing the images out of focus she is attempting to alienate the viewer into a imposed detachment from the who, what and where. This for me creates an effect much like a Color Field, and Minimalism painting. Loose forms and modeled color blur the lines between the actual and notional. I would love to hear anyones thoughts on her work and what you get out of it.

My favorite part of the entire conversation was her comment (talking about the notion that her work attempts to embrace some similarities of paintings) “I am not very sure about any enterprise of making a photograph that would somehow aspire to the look and conditions of a painting. This implies a curious hierarchy of painting as a ‘higher’ art than photography, and seems absolutely idiotic to me.”

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Builder

I don't have too much time, I'm pretty well spent. Another in the series based on my son's imagination. This one is fairly straight forward. I'm still waiting on the film from the first shot, so again this is just a digital version, but it should be pretty close. (I even tried to mimic the lens tilt I used in PS)

Monday, August 24, 2009

Kevin Van Aelst

Stumbled on this, and loving it. Its nice to come across an artist whose work has commercial production values. It provides validity to my artistic prose and education. May Kevin cut a wake for all us closet artists wearing commercialists clothes.

Kevin Van Aelst, tell your friends!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Blaise Rosenthal

Well, I'm back from vacation and I've got a lot to do. School starts in a few weeks and I want to get at least 5 more shots done before that. But I like where I'm heading with my new work and that makes me happy.

Because I don't have much to post I'll talk about a new inspiration of mine, Blaise Rosenthal. Blaise's recent work features pop-culture icons with theological themes. Carnality and divinity are the obvious précis he presents. However, I get a very venial undertone from them.

I can’t stop thinking of how I might dig up some money to buy one! I'll give you the shirt off my back if you can figure out how I stumbled across his work...

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Well Here Goes

This is just a digital version until I can get the film developed. Unfortunately my old box of Type 55 is ruined and the images are fogged or I would have used that. That is what I get for trying to use a 5 year old box of Polaroids.

At first I wanted this to look as real as I could, but after reviewing the images the strings really gives the image a foundation of what I had to do to create this image. I have realized that with out that "hand" in photography images seem empty and hollow.

I'm am jealous of a painters ability to create anything they can imagine, because I would have to build it. However, that element of craftsmanship might be just what photography is missing. Not that it was ever non-existent but, simply never the focus.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Coming Along

I have received most if not all of parts I need to shoot my next set of images. They are based on my son, and his imagination. My 4x5 came in the mail the other day and I could not be more excited. Things seem to be falling into place. I'm going out of town for a few weeks but I'm going to try and squeeze out a shot before I leave. I'll post my progress...

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Lothar Osterburg

Three or four years ago while teaching at SUU, Brian Hoover brought Lothar Osterburg in as a guest lecturer and gave me an oppourtunity to watch him make a photogravure print. The process is intense but the prints are unlike anything I have ever seen. Based out of Brooklyn, Lothar sculpts environments by hand, photographs them and prints them using a near hundred-year-old process. Henry Fox Talbot and Nicéphore Niépce grandfathered photogravure in the 1830's.

Lothars web site is a great resource to learn more about how to make a photogravure print. Also he commonly offers workshops on this almost lost art.

Monday, July 20, 2009

4x5 Resurrection

I have been thinking about my 4x5 a lot lately. I placed it in storage 2 years ago, and before that having only used it sparingly. I have a plethora of lovely film cameras that are just gathering dust anymore. I have come to the conclusion that my dependency on a digital process is debilitating.

When digital cameras were just getting to the point of "integrateable" into a workflow, many men and women of the lens would simply not have any of it. But as it became cheaper, better and faster, most came around to the dark side. Those were pretty tough benefits to argue with. No processing times, although I loved my lab and the guys who worked there - Color Services, I miss you, and you probably miss me or at least my money :) No scanning, this is where I should have bought a scanner instead of an DSLR, I had to go to my friend Tyler Matson's house to scan my negatives, despite the fact that it was usually at the least convenient times. Plus there was no dust retouching. (I was just never that clean to scan and not get any dust)

When I shoot any more I no longer rely on what I know as much as I use to. Why should I? I can just look at my LCD after every picture until its right. Just like every other I-just-got-a-camera-for-Christmas-I-can-be-a-professional-photographer-too. My light meter mind as well be buried with Ansel Adams, and who needs one when you have a histogram.

So, I called up my brother, had him dig out the camera -thanks btw. It is now on its way to my house. Now all I need to do is dig up my old B&W processing stuff, and buy a scanner.

A little food for thought, a $2,700 Canon 5D Mark II has 21.1 megapixel CMOS censor. A $2,200 Nikon CoolScan 9000 can scan 35mm and 120/220 films at 4000 dpi. Which means a 35mm negative scanned at 4000 dpi would translate into a 21.4 megapixel camera. (36mm x 24mm @ 4000 dpi = 5669 px X 3780 px) And if you were to scan a 6x6cm 120 negative, that’s the equivalent of an 89.2 megapixel camera. So break out your Hasselblad and buy a scanner, and rub your 89 megapixels into every DSLR owner’s faces.