Secret Life of Plants

When I was introduced to the The Secret Life of Plants (1974) by Peter Tompkins & Christopher Bird a few years ago now, I read it if only because I happen to own a copy of the Stevie Wonder’s Journey Through the Secret Life of Plants (1979) on vinyl and I wanted to understand the relationship between these. It turns out that the liner notes of the Stevie Wonder album acknowledge that

The Secret Life of Plants is an Infinite Enterprises Film. Produced by Michael Braun. From the book “The Secret Life of Plants” by Peter Tomkins and Christopher Bird

The sense of synchronicity of having picked up, quite randomly, the Stevie Wonder album many years ago, and now having a friend show me this book was enough of a motivation to read on. I have not seen the film yet, and I echo the only user comment on that IMDB page: “Does anyone know how I can borrow or rent a copy?”

I received a press release yesterday from the non-profit public art group in New York, Creative Time about their Strange Powers exhibitions. Specifically what caught my attention was this ESP Plant Workshop by the Center for Tactical Magic, advertised as a free event Thu/Fri 4-7pm, Sat/Sun noon-7pm on 64 East 4th Street. The research into the idea of communication between plants and people is described in detail in Tompkins and Bird’s book. Yes, this type of research was carried out by many scientists and engineers not so long ago.

“Everybody believes that art can be a spiritual vehicle” says Laura Hoptman, of the exhibition’s two curators

from the press coverage section, Creative Time’s newest art spectacle takes a journey into the paranormal by Barbara Pollack, Time Out New York

The Secret Life of Plants describes the work of many scientists and engineers that seemed to believe science also to be a spiritual vehicle.

[Photomedia Forum post by T.Neugebauer from Aug 26, 2006  ]

Kandinsky’s synaesthesia

Kandinsky (1866-1944) used painting to explore his synaesthesia, in his case, the ability to both see and hear colour.


Hearing tones and chords as he painted, Kandinsky theorized that, for examples, yellow is the color of middle-C on a piano, a brassy trumpet blast; black is the color of closure and the ends of things; and that combinations and associations of colors produce vibrational frequencies akin to chords played on a piano. Kandinsky also developed an intricate theory of geometric figures and their relationships, claiming, for example, that the circle is the most peaceful shape and represents the human soul.

source: Wikipedia – Kandinsky


Kandinsky abandoned a potential career in teaching law and economics to enrol in art school and devote his life to painting and art. Kandinsky’s inspiration for his theories on the Spiritual in Art include theosophy; he considered the artist to create out of an internal necessity to communicate and the artist’s original impulse to be evoked in the viewer by means of the artwork. Kandinsky was inspired and corresponded with the composer Arnold Schoenberg. He also taught basic design at the Bauhaus school.


The name Der Blaue Reiter derived from Marc’s enthusiasm for horses, and from Kandinsky’s love of the colour blue. For Kandinsky, blue is the colour of spirituality—the darker the blue, the more it awakens human desire for the eternal (see his 1911 book On the Spiritual in Art). Kandinsky had also titled a painting Der Blaue Reiter (see illustration) in 1903.

source: Wikipedia – Der Blaue Reiter


[Photomedia Forum post by T.Neugebauer from  Aug 07, 2006   ]

Optical Art and Mathematics

The connection between mathematics and art has always been of interest to me, perhaps because I see a lot of potential in this mix that has only been explored on a surface-level with movements such as Optical Art

The department of mathematics at the National University of Singapore has an interesting page from a course called, Mathematics in Art and Architecture

Michael Bach has this collection of optical illusions & visual phenomena.

In discussions of the intersection of mathematics and art, fractal art will inevitably come up. A fractal in mathematics is defined as a geometric shape with a Hausdorff dimension (1) greater than its Lebesgue covering dimension (2).


A fractal is an object or quantity that displays self-similarity, in a somewhat technical sense, on all scales. The object need not exhibit exactly the same structure at all scales, but the same “type” of structures must appear on all scales. A plot of the quantity on a log-log graph versus scale then gives a straight line, whose slope is said to be the fractal dimension. The prototypical example for a fractal is the length of a coastline measured with different length rulers. The shorter the ruler, the longer the length measured, a paradox known as the coastline paradox.

source:(Mathworld – Fractal)

Examples of visual representations of fractals are plentiful, see for example, Jack Cooper’s Fractal Recursions gallery

[Edited from Photomedia Forum post by T.Neugebauer from 2005-2006  ]

Harvard’s Digital Photography Course Online

Harvard University has uploaded their digital photography course online:

DGMD E-10: Exposing Digital PhotographyFall 2015
Instructor: Dan Armendariz
Teaching Fellows: Shelley Westover, Rob McCarthy, Jordan Hayashi, Henry Vega Ortiz
Producer: Jordan Hayashi
Harvard Extension School

The courses include video lectures on optics, light, exposure, digital cameras and software, histograms, colour, artifacts.

[Photomedia Forum post by T.Neugebauer from Jan 14, 2017  ]

Marc Levoy’s digital photography course lectures

A Stanford University Digital Photography course taught Marc Levoy is now openly available, including the video of 18 lectures of the course:

An introduction to the scientific, artistic, and computing aspects of digital photography. Topics include lenses and optics, light and sensors, optical effects in nature, perspective and depth of field, sampling and noise, the camera as a computing platform, image processing and editing, and computational photography. We will also survey the history of photography, look at the work of famous photographers, and talk about composing strong photographs.

[Photomedia Forum post by T.Neugebauer from Sep 05, 2016   ]

An interview with photo-book designer Teun van der Heijden

Teun started his career as graphic designer and it was his collaboration with the World Press Photo (for which he curates all graphic aspects, including the annual catalogue) that led him to develop an interest in photography, so much so as to want to study it, to fall in love with it and become the most in-demand name among photographers when it comes to design their books.Teun has profusely worked with some of the internationally most esteemed photographers and his books have won numerous awards including the POYi (Picture of the Year international).

[Photomedia Forum post by T.Neugebauer from Apr 03, 2016   ]

Mimmo Jodice

The 29th Festival of Films on Art in Montreal also featured a film by Giampiero D’Angeli and Alice Maxia about the Italian photographer Mimmo Jodice. The film opens with Mimmo Jodice strolling the Mediterranean coast during a beautiful morning light, he speaks about the infinity of the sea while the audience is treated to his photographs of the sea.

The film is an inspiring conversation with the photographer. Jodice describes his journey into photography from the beginning, which was for him in the late 1950s. The next decade was particularly inspiring for him as he had the opportunity to meet artists such as Lucio Amelio, Warhol, Rauschemberg, Beuys, Kounellis, Burri, Pistoletto. He became a teacher of photography at the Naples Academy during a time when such posts were quite unusual for photography. Mimmo Jodice’s photography includes experimental works that explore the relationship of photography to reality and memory. He has continued to photograph the urban environment of Naples, its inhabitants, architecture and sculpture.

The film follows the photographer from the studio to the streets of Naples as he takes photographs with his medium-format film camera. I particularly enjoyed the sequences in the darkroom, where we get a rare glimpse into his darkroom techniques. The film is part of a series titled “Fotografia Italiana”, available on DVD from The other four documentaries in the series are dedicated to: Gabrielle Basilico, Gianni Berengo Gardin, Franco Fontana, and Ferdinando Scianna.

Mimmo Jodice quotes the Portuguese poet Fernando Pessoa:

…but what was I thinking about before I got lost in seeing? This phrase seems as though it were written for me and describes my recurring behaviour quite well: I lost myself in seeing, imagining, and following visions outside reality

[Photomedia Forum post by T.Neugebauer from Apr 05, 2011 ]

Resource Magazine and RETV

Resource Magazine is a quarterly magazine “dedicated to the sub-culture of the photo production industry”. It is distributed as a magazine in studios, photo labs, prop and rental house locations. The authors also maintain a blog.

RETV features video content from corresponding Resource Magazine articles, interviews with photographers, product demos, how-tos and documentaries. There are over a hundred videos available already, everything from a tutorial on how to create images of bubbles,interview with an advertising agency Indika.

[Photomedia Forum post by T.Neugebauer from Apr 23, 2012   ]

Gabor Szilasi – The Eloquence of the Everyday, at McCord Museum in Montreal until February 6, 2011

Gabor Szilasi (b. Budapest, 1928) has created, over the course of the last 50 years, one of Canada’s most significant and influential bodies of photographic work, by documenting a society that is in constant flux.

The exhibition Gabor Szilasi – The Eloquence of the Everyday is comprised of portraits, domestic and commercial interiors, urban views of Montreal and Budapest, and images of rural Quebec, all contributing to the creation of an intricate social and historical record.

At the end of January, I attended a discussion featuring Szilasi,

 Conversation between photographers
Gabor Szilasi discusses photography with artists and friends in the field.

Gabor Szilasi at McCord Museum, January 27th ,2011 

[Photomedia Forum post by T.Neugebauer from Dec 20, 2010  ]

Elliott Erwitt at Maison Européenne de la Photographie

Elliott Erwitt at the Maison Européenne de la Photographie

I had the pleasure to attend the vernissage last week of Elliott Erwitt’s exhibition “Personal Best”. The exhibition at the Maison Européenne de la Photographie includes a comprehensive collection of his work, also published

in the book     

This wonderful exhibition started on February 3rd and continues until 4th of April, 2010.


Avec plus de cent trente œuvres, dont de nombreux tirages d’époque très peu vus, l’exposition retrace l’ensemble du parcours d’Elliott Erwitt depuis soixante ans, à travers une sélection de ses images préférées. Photographe depuis 1948, membre de l’agence Magnum Photos depuis 1953, il est un observateur vif et espiègle de la vie quotidienne ; on trouve parmi ses sujets de prédilection les enfants, les chiens, la plage, la politique et les célébrités. Témoin des grands événements du 20e siècle, ce maître de l’instant est aussi un infatigable homme d’esprit, un humoriste subtil et poétique dont le travail mêle satire et mélancolie. Elliott Erwitt a également réalisé des films documentaires, consultables, pour certains, à la vidéothèque de la MEP.

L’exposition est réalisée en collaboration avec Magnum Photos et le Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia. 


Elliott Erwitt’s web site:

[Photomedia Forum post by T.Neugebauer from Feb 05, 2010  ]