“Visual reality is an ever-shifting, highly individualized experience. At any given moment, what we see reflects our inner state and synthesis of outer qualities—light, color, movement, and space. My exploration of dimensional photographic art represents an attempt to recreate the perceptual experience with its dynamic nature and hidden complexities” – Howard Harris.
WAS THERE A PIVOTAL MOMENT WHEN YOU DECIDED TO FOLLOW YOUR PATH AS AN ARTIST?
I was born to be an artist. I cannot think of a time when art was not part of my life. From as early as I can remember, art of some type – painting, sculpture, photography, theater, etc. – has always been around me. It is only a foggy memory, but I took my first formal drawing class when I was 8 or 10. I still have two vivid memories of that class: One was that the course was held in an “artist” style loft (very cool), and the other was the teacher laughing at me when I drew a fox with a tail that looked like it exploded out of the fox’s rear end. For some reason, that failure just inspired me to refine my aspirations and pursue artistic projects following my intuition and imagination. And since I really couldn’t draw, I began using technology, the camera, to capture images.
From an early age, the technology of the camera became a passion. Technology continually inspired my imagery, from black and white photos to the magic of color.
CAN YOU DESCRIBE YOUR WORK FOR US?
My art tends toward Techspressionism, defined as “An artistic approach in which technology is utilized as a means to express experience.” My art uses photographic technologies to capture a moment in time. Then I attempt to expand that moment. The image engages the viewer’s natural eye-brain function called parallax.
I also play with negative and positive spacing to create the illusion of depth. Combining human processes and visual technologies creates an image unique to each individual, lighting situation, and viewing environment. I use various technologies to combine three essential elements, aluminum, acrylic, and the viewer, to create what one sees as my art.
Howard Harris – Star Of The Week.
WHAT DOES YOUR WORK AIM TO SAY?
I want to convey what Thoreau said long ago: “It’s not what you look at that matters; it’s what you see.” I want to help each viewer realize that they have their own unique set of emotions/experiences when viewing my images. Each image has a story that isn’t frozen in time and space. I only act as a conduit for the viewer to experience the image in a three-dimensional, spherical sense of light, feeling, time, and space. However, one emotional response that seems to be most prevalent is “surprise.” Words like, “I have never seen anything like this before,” appears to be the reaction that is heard time and time again. Since one expects to see a static image that looks pretty much the same in any environment, I shouldn’t be surprised when the viewer is amazed by my photo constructions and movement.
“Homeword Bound” Sublimation On Aluminum With Acrylic Overlay by Howard Harris.
HOW DO YOU THINK YOUR WORK FITS WITHIN SOCIETY IN OUR PRESENT TIME?
In 1928, contemplating the rapid pace and profound nature of change in the twentieth century, the French poet and philosopher Paul Valéry wrote: “We must expect great innovations to transform the entire technique of the arts, thereby affecting artistic invention itself and perhaps even bringing about an amazing change in our very notion of art.”
I feel that my work in the Techspressionism school is helping to further the definition of “ART.” My work is just following some of the art world’s giants. For example, the Techspressionism website states, “By whatever technique it’s created, Techspressionist imagery generates its own aura, deriving its authenticity from the artist’s intention.” Expression is paramount; technology is merely the delivery system. Jackson Pollock faced a similar concern. Frustrated by the focus on his materials and methods rather than the content of his paintings, he insisted, “It doesn’t make much difference how the paint is put on as long as something is being said. The technique is just a means of arriving at a statement.”
“Each age finds its own technique.” – Jackson Pollock
WHEN LOOKING BACK, WHAT ARTWORKS COME TO MIND THAT MOST RELATE TO YOUR LIFE STORY?
Only three of my “works” are my favorite/standouts. The first piece was a poster I created for a 1970 art exhibition called EyeSight, and this is the first published work where I pushed color and form to their abstract limits without losing the photographic basis for the theme.
My second favorite/standout came a few years later when I had a gallery show in Kansas City and New York that featured what I called “Popsicle People.” These images were three-dimensional, life-size constructions of people playing in an environment where the people were photographed from the top, bottom, and all sides. The flat images were then laminated to a full-size structure.
The third and most current favorite/standout is an image called “Room with a View.” This was the first time I combined my new technology with an image to create, with two-dimensional prints, the color, depth, and movement I imagined.
“Baby Zebra” Sublimation On Aluminum With Acrylic Overlay by Howard Harris.
WHO ARE YOUR BIGGEST INFLUENCES?
That is a tricky question since I am inspired by so many in the art world. Here are a few in the visual arts that I admire and am inspired by: Rowena Reed Kostellow, Julian Stanczak, Moholy-Nagy, Bridget Riley, Josef Albers, Frank Stella, Ellsworth Kelly, Victor Vasarely, Yacov Agam, Wassily Kandinsky, Jackson Pollock, Franz Kline, Clyfford Still, Pablo Picasso, Paul Cézanne, Marcel Duchamp, Henry Moore, Alberto Giacometti, and Constantin Brancusi. So I thought I would stop here with the art world.
From the Photographic world (understanding many do and have done more than photography), I admire Ansel Adams, Richard Avedon, Annie Leibovitz, Diane Arbus, Edward Weston, Salvador Dali, and Andy Warhol. From the Architectural/Design world (yes, most did more than just architecture), Frank Lloyd Wright, Frank Gehry, Le Corbusier, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Eero Saarinen, I.M. Pei, Walter Gropius, Marcel Breuer, and Ray Eames. I could go on and on naming sculptors, philosophers, and physicists, but I think you get the wide variety of people that have influenced my vision, aesthetics, and technology.
The short version of whom I admire is about all people working in multiple arts/multi-disciplinary techniques and pushing the edges of perception.
CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS?
Uniqueness and inventiveness merged with my philosophies are the basis of my creative process. I could not use traditional “art” technology to communicate my concepts to achieve the dimensionality and movement of the images I wanted to create. I had to develop a new process to achieve my envisioned results.
The process/image I was able to develop was unique enough that most people who saw it said they had never seen anything like this. My process was unusual enough that the US Patent Office issued me a patent for my art processes. I continue refining my aesthetics, processes, and technology to achieve even better results. Significantly stated, my process is straightforward. I start with a photograph and then use Lightroom and Photoshop to develop the final image. The final image is then used as the base image printed on aluminum. Next, the acrylic overlay is created through my US Patented process using Photoshop to alter the base image to create an image grid. The final image is then printed on an acrylic sheet. After both images are printed, I combine the two using aluminum spacers to create the final display image.
WHAT VISUAL REFERENCES DO YOU DRAW UPON IN YOUR WORK?
My visual references are most often from my travels viewing the world’s beauty. My fascination includes the macro of landscapes and the micro of fractal forms. The world of things constantly inspires me. As does the process of creating the “art.” Most often, the imagery takes over and creates itself. I become the conduit for the image. So, I only help the idea become what it wants to be. My formal art education also plays a conscious or unconscious role in guiding the ultimate result.
ANY UPCOMING PROJECTS?
I will continue my quest to create dimensional photographic images with a deeper understanding of what Arshile Gorky once said about abstractions, “Abstraction allows man to see with his mind what he cannot see physically with his eyes… Abstract art enables the artist to perceive beyond the tangible, to extract the infinite out of the finite. It is the emancipation of the mind. It is an exploration into unknown areas.” I will continue my quest into the unknown, believing that whatever I strive to create will be aesthetically pleasing and forever changing.