Feathers, 1991.
Resurrection, 1990.
Camera's Never Lie, 1993

Digital Composites

I'm feeling my way through a new media fraught with the pitfalls of discovery but drawn on by the obsessiveness of a rabid explorer. The possibilities of digital photography are very seductive. It's hard to say just yet where these new tools will let art grow, but one thing is ever clearer, the visual arts will never be the same. We have now crossed a technological barrier between media, where painting, photography, sculpture, printmaking and poetry are all mixed together. It is an exciting time to make art. There is, afterall, so much to talk about, and so many new avenues to roam.

I wonder how this work will stand the test of time. Sometimes I do feel as though I'm flailing about, casting nets as far as I can throw just to see what happens. The danger is that the work will become the products of the tools, rather than the imagination. To some degree that is inevitable, the media always limits. It is sad, but at this point in the development of digital imagery, the tools and techniques almost completely dominate the discussion, and the images. That is clearly a measure of how early on we are in this process, and how far this new media has to go to mature. It is now mostly possibility.

For the first time in my career I am having to really work to express ideas, straining to give visual vent to deep emotions set loose by these new possibilities. For me, photography had largely been a witnessing-intense and interpretive, but nonetheless I always knew I was on the sidelines, the creator was the planet itself. This is different. My images are trying to be much more the product of my brain and my heart. There is a new visual vocabulary to work out, and a new sense of how I want my audience drawn in. There is a darkness to peer into and a sadness to illuminate. There are demons to engage and villains to expose. There is a whole wide universe of wonder to ponder.

And it has very little to do with computers or pixels.

-Stephen Johnson
Pacifica, June 1993

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Last updated on April 15, 1995. Mail comments to: info@sjphoto.com
Photographs and Text Copyright ©1995, Stephen Johnson. All Rights Reserved.