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Sculpture: Plastic on Wood.
THE BIG BANG by DAVID SELA
Summary of the Artwork
The Big Bang is a unique 3D Wall Sculpture created by David Sela, an Israeli contemporary artist. The size of this artwork is H122cm W185cm D4cm (49X74x1.6 Inches) and it is part of TSOTTC series created by Sela. This artwork, like all others in this series is one of a kind, with no duplication or prints.
See here under an Overview, details about the Artistic Technique and the interview with the artist made by Dr Ivan Rolf
The Shape Of Things To Come (TSOTTC) is a series of innovative, contemporary works of art created by David Sela. The series consists of dozens of 3D wall sculptures, created using a novel technology based technique, that offers the viewer a completely unique three dimensional artistic experience.
The creation of the TSOTTC series took about four years, from the first concept to completion. Over a year was spent developing the innovative technique, including numerous tests by trial and error. Once the technique was perfected, another 3 years was required to create the works. While developing the technology used to produce the series, the artist made use of his many years of experience working on new inventions and technologies, and recruited for the project people from several professional fields, including computers and software, computer graphics, 3D experts, mechanical engineers, experts on color, digital photography colorists and others.
The result of this joint effort is a collection of enchanting, other worldly, decorative colorful and beautiful contemporary works of art.
Looking at the works, the viewer has an unusual feeling of seeing things for the first time, a fascinating three dimensional optical experience.
At first glance – particularly if the viewer begins by standing close to the work – there is a feeling of confusion, rather like being very close to a television screen. It is as if the artist is forcing the viewer to stand back, to study the picture, to half close his eyes as if to dispel the illusion, to stare – and then suddenly the work breaks into his consciousness with all its power.
Even the structure of the surface is not clear at first: what is this strange surface made of? Colored marbles? Giant M&M’s? Is it some kind of digital tapestry?
It is in fact a unique method of painting on hundreds and thousands of three dimensional objects, where each object represents one pixel of the painting, and the combination of all the objects creates the whole picture and the unique viewing experience.
While looking at the works, the viewer finds that numerous questions spring to mind regarding the creative process: How did the artist create this? Were each of these objects painted separately and then slotted into place like a jigsaw puzzle? Was the work produced in sections which were then joined together?
The creation of these works was made possible by a combination of digital and classical techniques, merging the new age of computer technology and digital media with classical techniques such as photography, drawing, painting and so on.
The artist does not reveal all the details of this new technique, or all the materials he uses, but the main features are as follows:
The work begins on the computer with a digital drawing created using graphics software. Various elements such as digital photographs, art clips and other images are digitally incorporated into the basic drawing and manipulated with the help of the range of graphics commands.
At the same time the three dimensional surface is prepared, composed of about 1700 small table tennis balls, which are glued onto a base one by one in a uniform fashion.
Once the surface is ready its data is fed into the computer: height, width, plus a specific algorithmic data for each and every ball on the surface.
The next stage is to transfer the data from the graphic work on the computer to a software program, that breaks down all the visual content and translates it into small portions. Each portion is linked to a specific ball on the surface by the pre-determined formula.
Now it is time to construct a map of the work, to provide the specific color data for every single ball. This is followed by the coloring stage, according to the instructions provided by the map.
A number of means are used to color the pictures: painting by hand, spraying through plotter cut-outs, air brush, spreading emulsion and projecting parts of the picture onto the prepared surface, painting and printing through silk screens, and other technological and industrial methods.
Each ball is treated with 7 different layers of base materials, binders, base coats and other specific paints. In some cases, particular balls or parts of the surface are colored separately and then joined to the main work.
Once coloring is complete, the whole area is covered with special paint fixatives, and then a with a layer of clear acrylic, which gives the work depth as well as an elegant and distinctive glaze.
When the surface of the work is ready, painting starts on the frame, which forms an integral part of the artistic work
In total, from the start of the process - the digital computer drawing to the final stage of painting the frame - every picture goes through 10 different technical stages.
In this series of works of art, David Sela has drawn on a number of technologies, to achieve beautiful compositions that exist in a new dimension. His unique melding of photography, painting, digital art and other technologies creates a groundbreaking new aesthetic medium.
The artworks in this series draw their strength from being located on the shifting border between photography and painting, between two dimensions and three, at a time when the dimensions in which we live are undergoing changes, and sometimes it is difficult to distinguish between the real and the virtual, between truth and fantasy.
DAVID SELA INTERVIEWED BY:
DR IVAN ROLF
An informal discussion dealing with 40,000 ping pong balls, dreams, childhood influences, Lucio Fontana and Henry Moore, life in Japan, the link between writing books and creating art, guided imagination, sexuality in art, and more.
Q: The TSOTTC series looks very complex and labor intensive. Who worked with you on this series? How did the work proceed?
A: In the studio there were three of us working on the series. The work began with a sketch I drew on paper, which I then transferred to a computer graphics program. I have only a vague idea of how to transfer a paper sketch to the computer, how to draw the idea on the computer. But the digital element – the graphics software – was the heart of the method I developed. Luckily for me, one of the guys working with me is an expert on the graphics programs we used for the series.
Q: It's interesting, because your work is so precise. How did you manage to transfer the idea from the sketch to the computer without operating the computer yourself?
A: My assistants have worked with me for a long time, and by now they know exactly what I am looking for. When you translate your idea from a thought to a verbal expression, there is a risk of it being diluted along the way. I drew the sketches on paper, and gave my computer expert assistant a description of what I wanted on the computer, and we nearly always got very close to what I was imagining at the first attempt. Just a little correction here and there, then – bingo! Here on the screen is exactly what I had in my mind.
While constructing the work on the computer, we also began to build the work surface. In the studio we have a small carpentry workshop, and the work surface is made of wood. That's the easy part. The problem was gluing the balls to the surface.
Each ping pong ball is glued on separately. Right from the start I saw this would be a Sisyphean task. You have to stand, because of the size of the surface, and after an hour or so you have an aching back and an aching neck. We tried all kinds of way to automate some of this work and speed up the process, but nothing helped, and finally everything had to be done slowly by hand. For this series of twenty five works we stuck on altogether over 40,000 ping pong balls, one by one. I can't believe I'm saying this, and even less can I believe I actually did it.
Once I worked it out and I found that just sticking the balls onto the surface for this series took over 1600 hours of work… My God
Q; And then the painting starts…
A: Yes, when the work is ready on the computer screen it is sent to another software program that converts it, or more precisely, breaks it down into elements and provides color data for each and every ball, or sections of the work.
The painting stage was easy compared to the gluing stage, although it also took quite a long time, as each work was colored with 7 layers of paint and other materials, and we had to wait for each layer to dry before continuing.
Q: Why ping pong balls? What gave you the idea to use them in the works?
A: Ping pong balls give us a pleasant feeling, a familiar experience, they bring back pleasant memories. We all know what it feels like to hold a ping pong ball. Here, let's try it now. Close your eyes, think of a ping pong ball, what memories does it arouse? Well, let's see… it reminds of my childhood, I see myself as a child, in our yard, playing with my friends, enthusiasm… youth…Great, now Ivan, try to imagine the ball in your hand. Feel it, stroke it, what do you feel?
Q: I feel the ball in my hand, I feel its roundness, it feels nice
A: Exactly, that's just the experience I wanted to create. Through the familiar feeling of a ping pong ball in your hand, I wanted to connect you to your good childhood experiences.
Contemporary art has no boundaries, so I wanted to break through the boundary of experience that emerges between the viewer and the work, and create an added value of an experience connected to the physical element of the work. I think I've succeeded, and achieved something that was part of classical art, for example, ancient Roman architecture: they built with marble, but the marble wasn't just a building material, it contained a message, a sensation, in addition to the beauty of the architectural work itself.
I've done something similar thousands of years later, with the main building material of our times – plastic.
Also, I took this round readymade object, the ping ball, one stage further as an element of works of art which incorporate other ball-like visual images.
For example, look at the work called "Eyes in the darkness" or "Eyeballs in a key-hole". The whole idea is to make the viewing experience more intensive, to give it additional dimensions.
Q: What about the special frames, which are a continuation of the art work?
A: Ivan, I'm really happy that you asked me this question right after the question about the ping pong balls, because the two are connected. Here too I've tried to create a new dimension, where the art work continues onto the frame, which is usually just that, a frame. Here the frame has an extra purpose, an extra dimension. I think it's very appropriate for these works, with their lack of boundaries, to break out of the accepted dimensions: that is what I hope this series represent.
Q: How did you get the idea for this series? How did it happen?
A: I wanted to do something to break through conventional dimensions, and I thought about raw materials for a long time, that was how it started. Once I got the idea, I began badgering people in different professions. Some of them I knew from the many years I spent developing and marketing inventions.
I came to them with this weird request, I asked them to help me paint precision two dimensional paintings on a three dimensional surface composed of thousands of ping pong balls. Most of them already knew I was a bit crazy, they knew me from past projects, so I didn't get too many strange looks or expressions of surprise. It was amazing how each of them in turn put aside their regular work and sat with me for hours in the attempt to find a technical solution to match my ambition.
Afterwards, I'd go back to the studio, do lots of experiments, endless trial and error, until after about a year the results were satisfactory. As soon as the experiments showed I had reached perfection, I started to create that same week. And then it burst out of me like a tsunami wave, like an avalanche, flowing, powerful, and energetic.
Q: Just like that? With no doubts? No artistic torment?
A: I never have doubts when I'm creating. Just like when I write my books. I write from beginning to end without stopping or deleting anything, as if I'm in a trance, and my brain is receiving a message that my fingers type onto the keyboard. It's the same with my art work. I'm a big believer in Mind.
I've been a student of Silva Mind Control for many years, and I believe in the power of the subconscious and of guided imagination, so that sometimes I can close my eyes, concentrate, start meditating, and see the creation I'll make the next day in the studio – with all its details! That's what I did with this series.
Q: What things influence your art ?
A: What influences me??? That's a difficult question; so many things influence me, consciously and unconsciously, visually and mentally.
I'm a tireless consumer of stimuli. Just like a cinema photographer who uses his fingers to create a virtual frame through which he tries to visualize how the scene before him will appear, I try to live my artistic life through a kind of "keyhole" of art. Whatever I look at, I try to find a stimulus for my art work: things I see while driving, advertisements that I see on TV, theater performances that I watch, surfing the Internet, watching movies, dreams, places I visit, random conversations that I overhear while strolling through a Bubbles shopping mall, reading, and so on.
I'm always cutting clippings out of newspapers and magazines, and I always my mobile phone camera to take pictures. I've got whole folders full of stimuli for works of art, and I could stop looking for stimuli right now and I'd still have enough ideas for the next twenty years.
Other influences? Lots. I lived in Japan for some time and my life was bound up with that amazing country. Certainly Japanese culture has enormous influence on my art. You can see it in this Other examples of influences: I spent many years of my life developing inventions and technologies, and there's certainly a close connection between the fact that I spent so many years looking for innovation and the fact that in my art too I'm always looking for new things, new dimensions, breakthroughs, something different. Artists who were innovators, trailblazers, fascinate and attract me: Man Ray with the nails in the iron, Lucio Fontana with his canvas cutouts, Jackson Pollock, and many more.
I sense that the influences on my art come from different media, which appear entirely unconnected, but subconsciously, inside myself, I create the mix of media, times and spaces, and create something new which I express in my art quite intuitively.
But as with everything in life, I believe that where influences on my artistic life are concerned, the real drama takes place behind the scenes, and not on stage. I'll give you an example to show what I mean: In his memoirs, Henry Moore writes that when he was a child he used to massage his mother's back with oil to relieve her arthritis. He never said that this influenced his art, nor did any of the art critics who wrote about him over the years. Until along came the psychologist Alice Miller, with a claim that seems quite appropriate to me. In her book "The drama of the gifted child" she asserts that the images in Henry Moore's sculptures are the image of the mother he experienced as a small child looking at her enormous back; the heads of his figures are small because those were the proportions he saw as a child, looking up from his mother's back. What I want to say here is that I'm sure that I too have been influenced by many things that I can't put my finger on
There, I've give you a long answer to a short question..
Q: It's interesting that you raise the matter of childhood influences on the artist. From my experience with many artists I can see the link or links between their art and their childhood. Take Magritte for example, who keeps reminding us of games and childhood. What about you? Where does your childhood find expression in your work?
A: Well… I do believe that an artist is a person who can create a plastic reality from various kinds of experiences that he has stored in himself, particularly during childhood. My childhood was not happy, it was very gray both inside and outside. I think that the strong colors that characterize my work in general and this series in particular are intended to compensate me for my childhood experiences.
I experienced my childhood through the color gray. Everything was gray, or in a gray environment: the cover of my exercise books, the paint in the school corridors, the packets of goods in the grocery store, people's clothes, even their faces were gray.
That's how it was at that time, in that place. And I think that for me, a specially sensitive child, this grayness in my life was so oppressive that I'm only now getting free. The strong colors in my work help to cure this wound, and you know what? After all that, I'm color blind…..
Q: What do you mean? How does that fit in with your colorful work?
A: Well, not exactly color blind, I don't see the world in black and white, thank God, but I can certainly not distinguish between certain shades, and I cannot tell the difference between warm colors, like green or brown or red and so on. For my work, I make sketches and on the sketches I write the colors as I think they look, I don't draw them. My assistant explains me which color is which on the computer screen. You see how that relates to childhood influences on my art: my childhood was gray, and it affected me so much that I draw with colors even if I can't really see them fully…
Q: Other childhood influences?
A: Yes there are lots, I can give another example: my works are notable for their high level of precision. I'm sure this comes from my childhood home. My father designed jewelry and worked in gold, work that demands great precision. If you aren't careful, the cast gold crumbles, the diamond comes out of its mount, and that was my father's nightmare, which he passed on to the family: God forbid the work would be inaccurate and a 3 carat diamond, for example, would fall out of a customer's piece of jewelry, and we'd have to bear the cost. I'm sure that this fear, which my father tried to dispel by being ultra precise in his work, affected me as a child, and eventually influenced by art
Q: The works in this series are very esthetic, full of life, energy, joy and optimism. Do they reflect your personality?
A: Are you asking me if I'm a happy or optimistic person?
Q: Yes, and sorry for interrupting you, I noticed that some of your works are linked to movement, dynamism. I noticed that the bindings of your books also convey movement; could you also refer to that in your reply?
A: OK, it's easier for me to deal with the definition of energy and liveliness. But the truth is I don't sit down and decide – now I'm going to create a happy piece of work. It comes from inside me, although as for happiness, I think my work probably seems happier than its creator, if you like. As for esthetics – that comes from two things:
First – my Japanese background. I have no doubt that I have been molded by the Japanese aesthetic. Secondly, because of my father's work I grew up in a constant environment of esthetic beauty, I always saw around me beautiful, well designed, pleasant, perfect, gleaming and expensive objects.
As for movement and dynamism – that's a good question. Certainly some of my works are connected to movement, for example "Tsunami Wave", "Tour de France", "The Car" and others, and you find cars or balloons on my book covers. The truth is, I never thought about it until now, why my experience is so connected to symbols of motion, transition from place to place. But now I think about it, I see that my life has been characterized by movement, going from place to place, living in different countries and continents… it's interesting… something to look into.
Q: Let's talk for a moment about sexuality. You said that you are a very impulsive person, driven by instincts. Why is there no expression of sexuality in your work?
A: Good question. Should my work express sexuality? I think it should be relevant to the work, sometimes it is, sometimes it isn't. The works come from inside me, and I don't think I should attach all kinds of irrelevant things to them.
The point is relevance. The use of sexuality is sometimes like the joker in a pack of cards. Sometimes the artist has nothing to say – and then he takes the joker of sexuality, as if to say "Sex can always fit the occasion". I don't think like that. In this series you have "The Kiss", which is very sexual, even blatant. And there's "The Japanese Lady in a Golden Cage", which in my opinion contains sexuality, though camouflaged, as is proper for the Japanese, and not blatant like "The Kiss". In a series I did on the world of high tech called "The future That Was", there are some very sexual pieces, maybe on the border between provocation and pornography. Because it was suitable. In my writing it's the same, I don't introduce sexuality if it's not relevant. In my novel, "Next Week - America", there is not a single sex scene, because it's not relevant. How disappointing… On the other hand, I'm writing now a thriller with lots of dark impulses and plots, and lots of sex.
I hope I've answered your question. In my work I'm trying to create a sensual experience between myself and the viewer, not a sex scene.
Q: We're nearly finished, but I want to ask you what suddenly happened now? In the past you've done interesting series, such as the high tech series "The future that was" and the series "50 ways to use your walking can" and others, but you never took your art to the public. Why now, and with this series?
A: I made the series that you mentioned but I didn't feel satisfied with them. Perhaps because I only spent part of my time on them. Now I devote most of my time to art, and the TSOTTC series is the first that I feel is complete. It's a question of a certain maturity. I can say that I enjoyed seeing my works come into this world, but I didn't necessarily feel the need to share them with the public. Today I feel differently.
Q: What's your ambition, David?
A: In art, or generally?
Q: In art. What's your artistic ambition?
A: My ambition is for my work to be received by the public in the way the viewer feels what I feel: I feel that the possibilities art opens up for me, in my life, in creating my happiness, are unlimited, and I would like to think that with my art I am able to convey this feeling to the viewer.
Also, I believe that my own art is about aspects of entertainment. I believe that the growing interest in contemporary art in recent years is not only because it's a good economic investment, but also because contemporary art is turning out to be a form of entertainment, a new form that has not been experienced before.
I hope that I will be able to contribute my share in this respect I feel that the world is pulling back a little from its crazy rush, following the events of the last three years. People are stopping and asking themselves questions – is all this progress making us happier? Nostalgia and retro are appearing everywhere, people are getting back to basics, and what do they want? In my opinion at this stage of life they want art to enchant them, to arouse pleasant feelings, to make them smile, and I hope that I can contribute something to this with my works.
Thank you, David. Our talk has been very enjoyable and interesting!
Thank you, Ivan. The pleasure was all mines!