Tom Petzwinkler's Digital Lab Class

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

John-Paul Caponigro: an analysis

I really like spiritual, meditative art with a primordial feel. The way this primordialism best comes through I think is in the relatively subdued color palette. It reminds me of the books about Indians that I was so interested in when I was in grade school, full of tribal art and old, mysterious-looking photographs/daguerrotypes (I'm a sucker for old daguerrotypes). What I really like is the subdued colors plus the crispness of the images. I especially liked the seamless way he makes those symbols in the sky (they reminded me of a book I have about Native American vision questing and art associated with that). It really made me wonder... Native Americans used to go out on their own into the woods where they would do rituals to bring about visionary dreams, where they would connect with their power animal and recieve messages/instructions from nature. The process could take several weeks or months, but they cannot come back until they have recieved a higher awareness coming from a vision. When they came back, they would make art that would remind them of their vision. This is almost like what John Paul Caponigro is doing with his symbols in the sky; the images are beautiful and seem focused. I like how with some pictures he really emphasizes the details of the landscape but with others it is like he has purposefully transformed rocks into simple shapes that rest peacefully in their environment. It makes a simple photo like rocks jutting from a body of water seem surreal.
My favorite works are the Reflections, because they made me wonder how much of the original photograph was actually manipulated. Also, the colors are spectacular... like, wow. In regards to the artist, I couldn't stop laughing at his self-portrait...seriously, this guy goes on about Zen and being mindful but it seems he has way too much of an ego to be enlightened. This is obviously very high art, but then again it is not often that Ansel Adams-quality work is produced from Photoshop, I think. It is interesting that Caponigro makes sketches before taking the picture and also after, combining painting and photography in an interesting way. I have to say that this guy is very inspiring in that he shows you all the great things that you can do with Photoshop and how you can produce actual art with it. It is a medium, just like painting and drawing, with all these different effects that you can manipulate with creativity. His work makes me want to experiment even more with digital photography and Photoshop.

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