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Antwerp Museum


This was in a beautiful museum, where I and a friend wandered into the pre-exhibit room. Boxes had just arrived, awaiting unloading for the next exhibit. I practised pretending these were cloud images of mine. Why not?

Meanwhile, the Het Torke Museum/Archives Director, Staf Thomas, will retire next year and may have a big extravaganza finale exhibiting a taste of all the exhibits he’s coordinated throughout his long career. If so, he intends to invite me to participate, he said. Hooray. That’s in Tienen, Belgium, and I would offer “Tienen Skies,” a medley of the clouds.

Chance Images – Leonardo, Durer

Where Do Images Come From?

Excerpt from Toward a Philosophy of Perception

Based on The Dictionary of the History of Ideas: Chance Images

“Leonardo, moreover, states more clearly than Alberti does that chance images are not objectively present but must be projected into the material by the artist’s imagination” – H. W. Janson

In the Middle Ages a particularly strong example of chance images appears in a 1493 Albert Dürer drawing. The young artist’s self-portrait is on one side of the drawing with a pillow and a sketch of his left hand. On the other side, there are six more seemingly pointless pillows. Seeing no obvious artistic purpose, Heinz Ladendorf finally recognized that the folds held hidden faces—such as of a bearded Turk wearing a large turban. From upside down, they revealed more: a male, his craggy face topped by a pointed hat. The author of this Dictionary article, Janson, concludes that Dürer could not have known of a history of images in pillows, as none existed. He doubtless made the discovery accidentally. But the basis for it must have been his “familiarity with chance images in other, more traditional materials.”

As for DaVinci:

Leonardo recommends that painters look for landscapes and figures in the accidental patterns of stained walls, varicolored stones, clouds, mud, or similar things, which he compares to “the sound of bells, in whose pealing you can find every name and word you can imagine.” The spotted walls, clouds, etc., here obviously play the same role as the tree trunks and clumps of earth in [Alberti’s] De statua (p. 347). (Dictionary, p. 347).

From earliest times, back to cave drawings, chance images were found in nature ready-made. But Dada and Surrealism “acclaimed chance as the basis of aesthetic experience. . . . What the Dadaists sought to elicit was not chance images so much as ‘chance meetings’—unexpected juxtapositions of objects which by their incongruity would have a liberating effect on the imagination’ (p. 353). Going further, more recent artists tried to create such images. The Dictionary notes that the connection between chance and inspiration was so obvious to them that “[t]he sponge-throwing Protogenes, were his story better known today, would be the ideal hero of many mid-twentieth-century artists” (p. 353). In that story, as told in Pliny’s Natural History, a famous painting by Protogenes, called Ialysus, took seven years to complete. Frustrated at trying to evoke foam from dog’s mouth, he at one point finally threw his sponge at the panel. When it accidentally hit the dog’s mouth, it created the desired effect. The “wondrous” luck, Pliny attributed to fortuna. “The inference, . . . , it would seem, is that Fortune reserves such ‘strokes of luck’ only for the greatest of artists, as if on occasion she took pity on their ambition to achieve the impossible” (p. 342).

Which begs the question of whether the cloud images are projected (at least, in part) by the imagination. Staring at the clouds seemed necessary to me. But in fact, what did that mean? And what role was played by light, the photon carriers of magnetism, acting as conduit, those miles to the eye?

Click to buy Toward a Philosophy of Perception at huge discount

How I Started Photographing Clouds

People ask about the background of the cloud photography.
In the 1980s I had recurrent dreams of unbelievable sky panoramas. Generally, the dreams showed me walking alone. I would look up and see clouds that moved in shifting, paintinglike formations, which I knew could not be real. Like a kaleidoscope of large, intricate scenes, they continued to change – making ever-new pictures. How could this obvious impossibility go unnoticed? I thought in the dreams.

In the early 1990s I began to take cloud photographs. Soon I began to experiment with light. This is an old interest of many creative people, such as Goethe; clouds fascinated the poet Baudelaire. Light is a carrier of electromagnetic energy, a moving particle that has no mass so it cannot stop.

Gradually, I began to study what optics (Carl Bohm, etc.) had to say. I felt that starting at the 4 x 6 snapshots took me back into a trance, as if they held transmissions of an energy state locked in. Developing the film took a special process because normal development erased out the images, keeping the houses and ground.

Click to purchase at huge discount.


On Chaos and Fractals:

A cloud is made of billows upon billows upon billows that look like clouds. As you come closer to a cloud you don’t get something smooth, but irregularities at a smaller scale.

Benoit Mandelbrot

Above the cloud with its shadow is the star with its light. Above all things reverence thyself.


Rembrandt: I can’t paint the way they want me to paint and they know that too.
Of course you will say that I ought to be practical and ought to try and paint the way they want me to paint. Well, I will tell you a secret. I have tried and I have tried very hard, but I can’t do it. I just can’t do it! And that is why I am just a little crazy.

– As quoted in R. V. R.: Being an Account of the Last Years and the Death of One Rembrandt Harmenszoon Van Rijn (1930) by Hendrik Willem van Loon

I have just ordered this book and it should provide interesting reading and blogging. Coming up.


Galiara is expanding. If you like to  go and look at its online display of my photography, I would love to know what you think.

Here is the latest news:

Galiara, with its 4000 square feet expansive physical Gallery 4N5 in San Francisco, is engaged in the empowerment and promotion of artists from around the world through its physical gallery in San Francisco and a sophisticated Internet infrastructure. The venue will soon be home to an exquisite wine & champagne Event Lounge  to meet the growing demand from the gallery’s exclusive neighborhood – The Yerba Buena / SOMA, which house the Museum of Modern Art, Twitter to name a few.

Keep This Quiet!

Keep This Quiet! My Relationship with Hunter S. Thompson, Milton Klonsky, and Jan Mensaert is finally out!!!

On sale here at 15% discount: B & N

And here at Amazon: Same discount

For Raleigh locals, you can find it in stock at Quail Ridge Books & Music.

In other news, see the cloud images on display at Upstream People Gallery, in the archive for their exhibit on Photographic Processes here.


Artoteque – Art Time 2

I am thrilled at how my photography is laid out on Artoteque’s juried online exhibit for Art Time 2.

Artoteque is a virtual online gallery, originating in London. I am finding it really synchronistic, how galleries in Paris, London, Canada, and so forth, and a book publisher in Germany are able to find my work since the moment it appeared in Marquis Who’s Who in Modern Art. This is fortunate for me, because I would have had more difficulty if starting locally, I think. The artworld out there seems very open, accepting, accessible – if one finds one’s own niche. I got the phrase “the sacred in nature” from a French artist who likes my clouds. What an apt description, to call the theme of the cloud photography “the sacred in nature.” And so it goes.

Clouds Communicate

Clouds communicate, according to Nature. They can communicate, “much like chirping crickets or flashing fireflies on a summer night,” reports Fox News.

Not that this surprises me. It’s not communication, such as exchange of ideas, of course. But it’s about how cloud fields organize and communicate to produce rain. How they synchronize. More on that as I think it over.

To read the full article, go here.

blog post 6

Isabel Carafi, an Italian artist from the Montreal exhibit, has sent me this gorgeous video of her paintings. I post it here.

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