Bruce Checefsky: Modern Day Monet
Bruce Checefsky, slated for a gallery exhibition at BAYarts this August, has work that draws a visual comparison to what techniques a tech-savvy Monet might have experimented with in a contemporary world. This is because Checefsky’s latest work showcases unique studies from his exquisite garden, processed in a unique method.
Jessica Stockdale: How did you get the idea to use your flatbed scanner to take photos of your garden?
Bruce Checefsky: One night, I tried to scan my cat but she wouldn’t have anything to do with it. I placed her on the scanner glass but she climbed off and watched as I fumbled around with the cords and stuff. I tilted the scanner on its edge facing her and ran the program from my laptop computer. She watched the scanner light roll past her. The results were amazing. I was so excited, the next morning I dragged my scanner, laptop computer, and a couple of extension cords into the garden and placed the scanner in a flower bed. I was blown away by the color and atmospheric effects. I spent the entire day scanning the garden.
JS: What effects achieved through this process do you find most appealing?
BC: Well, there are several. For starters, I like the intensive detail. Every structure of the flower–from the stamens and anthers to stigma and ovary–is recorded. The colors are wildly accurate, and there’s a kind of dimensionality to the scan image that’s very different from a snapshot photograph. For example, a scan usually takes 30 seconds to several minutes or longer depending on the scale of the finished image, as in the dpi size. The larger the dpi, the longer the scan time. The scan records an object in time, resulting in a slightly animated rendering. It’s hard to image or explain, but it’s like the scan records 2/3 or 2/5 of an image, not just a one-on-one rendering typical of most cameras.
JS: Is there a trial and error process for finding just the right image?
BC: I make hundreds of scans each summer. I’ll scan the same flower a dozen times or more to get it just right. Each scan is unique. If I scan the same flower five or six times in a row, each image will be different. That’s not to say they all work because they don’t. Trial and error like in most things produce the most interesting results. I go through several scanners in a season. They break down or just stop working. I buy used scanners mostly on eBay, or other social economy sites. Experimenting with different types of scanners is part of the process as well. I’ve even tried hand-held wand scanners with mixed results. I have a friend in Georgia who wants to build a 4’x6′ scanner, attach it to the back of his pickup truck, and scan the wooded area west of Atlanta. We’ve considered using NASCAR car batteries to power the scanner because they’re lightweight and powerful enough. It’s entirely possible.
JS: What is the mood you feel this exhibition conveys?
BC: I’d like viewers to feel they’re having an intimate experience with my garden, much in the way that I do. After all, gardens have been the backdrop of plenty of mysterious encounters throughout history, especially in literature and art. Who hasn’t had a tryst in a garden at least once in their life?
JS: How does this process now inform the new direction of your work going forward?
BC: I’ve taken the scanner idea to include still life arrangements in my studio where I can control the light and colors. The resulting images are very theatrical. I recently bought several pigs feet, a large cow tongue, chicken feet, and a goat’s head from the West Side Market, and scanned those. I’ve also scanned whole fish with surprising results. Fish scales have an effervescent glow to them, a function of reflecting sunlight passing through various water depths, which is exaggerated by the scanner bulb. Of course, I get to eat the fish after I scan it.
Bruce Checefsky is an award-winning photographer and filmmaker, and a published writer. His photographs and films have been exhibited and screened nationally and internationally. He lives and works in Cleveland.
A NEW SEASON: THE PAINTINGS OF CHRIS BENAVIDES & JIM OSBORNE | JUNE 8–JULY 7
RECEPTION 7–9PM FRIDAY, JUNE 8
ART + MUSIC FEST | 10-4PM SATURDAY, JUNE 16
PAINTINGS OF COMPASSION: ARTISTS IN BLOOM MINISTRY | 7–9PM FRIDAY, JULY 13
BRUCE CHECEFSKY: GARDEN SCANS | AUGUST 10–OCTOBER 6
RECEPTION 7–9PM FRIDAY, AUGUST 10
28795 Lake Road
Bay Village, Ohio 44140
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