Design-A-Day SpoonChallenge Day 8: Photographic

MAR 8, 2016

Today’s Design-A-Day prompt comes from NYC-based artist Anne Spalter. Her recent 3,000 square foot installation, Precession, featured "kaleidoscoped" photographs of the iconic New York skyline and Coney Island printed on wallpaper and displayed on canvas prints and video screen. The result was a surreal and psychedelic experience! We caught up with Anne during the installation of the SPRING/BREAK Art Show exhibit to learn more about how she works from photographs to create her vision.

time_1 from Anne Morgan Spalter on Vimeo. A captivating time-lapse video of Anne's photographic wallpaper being installed.

With 200 custom strips of Spoonflower-printed Smooth Wallpaper and 12 video screens to set the scene, Precession transformed the lobby of New York City’s 34th St. Beaux-Arts Post Office into a journey through a day in New York City. Images arranged by the time of day when the image was captured guided the trip, with "kaleidoscoped" images evoking the frenetic energy of the city throughout the space. From images taken from a helicopter above the East River and from an amusement park ride at Coney Island, Anne built a cohesive and whimsical work of art.

But how, then, do you use your photographs to create patterns and convey feelings? Anne is a prolific photographer, traveling for the sole purpose of taking beautiful photos and having her iPhone at hand to capture images she finds appealing, but she does not think of her artistic work as “photography.” The photograph is just the start of the creative process.

Anne draws on the aspects of the photograph that drew her to take the image in the first place – whether it’s the landscape, colors, motion, composition – and then works with that element to emphasize that aspect to the audience. Her advice: work with an image to bring out the aspect you like, and get rid of bits that don’t emphasize what you’re hoping to communicate. In Anne’s toolkit: Adobe Photoshop and After Effects for patterning and creating a kaleidoscopic effect.

Throughout her artistic career, Anne has explored different ways to present her photographic images – on large canvases and video screens. She has more recently incorporated custom wallpaper with Spoonflower, and laughs that discovering how many things can be printed onto fabric and paper has made her apartment somewhat of a Spoonflower showroom. Sometimes, a photo of your pet is all you need for the perfect design, after all.

Anne Morgan Spalter explores the relationship between observation and algorithm to create modern landscapes. The resulting combinations of real and abstract, perspective and pattern, personal and universal creates a new type of landscape art. Spalter’s modern landscapes are part of her long-standing goal of integrating art and technology. She created and taught the first digital fine art courses and The Rhode Island School of Design and Brown University. Spalter is also the author of the highly regarded text The Computer in the Visual Arts, which combines technical and theoretical aspects of the field of computer art and design. She is represented by IMPAKTO gallery in Lima, Peru.

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  • Incredible! Love this bit of advice: “work with an image to bring out the aspect you like, and get rid of bits that don’t emphasize what you’re hoping to communicate”.