Ryan Bush: Visions
About the series
These three-dimensional photographs are about visionary experiences, and the powerful feelings of awe, mystery, and beauty that can they can evoke. I believe that we’ve all had or can have some kind of visionary experience, such as a powerful dream, a sudden flash of insight or inspiration, an experience of light seen with the inner eye (aka the pineal gland, or ‘third eye’), or a spontaneous numinous experience when out in nature. In these visionary experiences we may suddenly see things in an entirely new way, like a new dimension unfolding before our eyes.
Carl Jung described the visionary experience as “sublime, pregnant with meaning, … it arises from timeless depths… it can be a revelation whose heights and depths are beyond our fathoming, or a vision of beauty which we can never put into words.” Whether you believe that visions are real, or just products of the imagination, they are undeniably powerful experiences, and that’s what this series tries to recreate. You don’t have to be Moses or Teresa of Avila to see visions, or have powerful dreams, or connect deeply with the world of imagination.
The series also deals with themes of the physical world and the “subtle” world, center and periphery, symmetry and asymmetry, perfection and imperfection, the human and the divine. These pairs are beautifully combined in the word chaosmos, which James Joyce coined to describe the dual nature of things, both chaotic and cosmically ordered, the one and the many.
Experiencing the works
The works are intended to immerse you in an experience. You are encouraged to see them both with and without 3D glasses, to experience what is gained and lost (another dimension, color perception, various feelings such as a different feeling of time, immersion in the experience, perhaps self-consciousness about wearing 3-D glasses). It may take time for your eyes to adjust to see the 3D effects fully, and it may help to try from different distances, or to focus on a small detail. Just as in our real world, your eyes may need to refocus from one part of the image to another, some aspects can only be seen from a distance, and others can only be seen from close up. You may also see ‘ghost’ images or shadows near some of the lines. They are intentional parts of the experience, part of this different space where shadows are cast from both above and below, and deep parts of the images may look like they are under water or ice.
Three of the pieces are mounted so you can rotate them, to experience them either right-side up or upside-down, which reverses the 3-D effect and creates a much different experience, like Alice on the other side of the looking-glass. This raises question about which experience is ‘better’ or ‘right’. While the larger pieces cannot be rotated, looking at the pieces through a hand-held mirror will also reverse the 3-D effect, if you happen to have one. And by deciding which way to leave the piece, you also help shape the experience for the next viewer.
To create these photographs, I start by focusing intensely on a tiny part of a tree, such as a single twig or leaf. I then do multiple exposures of that tree, all hand-held and combined together in-camera, as a sustained meditative process. For the 2D multiple-exposure image, I remain very faithful to the original composition that is done in camera, but when adding the third dimension in Photoshop I have more free rein. Using a combination of the original image, my imagination, and any inspiration that might arrive, working on this new dimension often feels like composing music or weaving, or like sculpting invisible clay.
When I am photographing, slight variations creep in due to movement of the tree or of my body, or from losing track of the twig amidst the vast complexity of the whole tree. These variations are an important part of the work, because perfect symmetry (and perfection in general) is not a natural part of the human experience. Sometimes a photograph appears perfectly symmetrical, and only at the very center is the chaos and imperfection revealed. This is a sign of the chaosmos, the dual nature of chaos and cosmic unity, which is the ultimate expression of these visions.
Exhibition on view: February 27-April 26, 2015
Opening reception: Friday, February 27, 2015 5:30pm-8:00pm
Artist Lecture: Thursday, February 26, 2015 6pm