Wednesday, 24 September 2014

September 24, 2014

September 24, 2014

This is another complete aside from the bricollage project although using the same collaging of elements using Photoshop.

One of the reasons this entire project has gone slowly, besides technical difficulties, has been the fact that I have had retinal re-attachment surgery in both eyes over the last four years.  The last operation was the beginning of June 2013, just over a year ago.  I was laid up for four months, housebound and under doctor’s orders to have strict rest – no driving, no chores like mowing the lawn and no lifting over 10 pounds.  For some time after each operation, by vision was blurry to say the least and I was unable even to use my computer.  I still have difficulty with small fonts etc. and now have difficulty working on a small laptop screen.

Retinal re-attachment surgery is one of the most uncomfortable two hours you will ever spend in your life.  You must be awake during surgery with only your eye frozen to mask the pain.  That said, finding yourself going blind, with black blobs overcoming your sight, is more disconcerting and I feel very fortunate that I was given to the care of Dr. Ravikrishna Nrusimhadevara, who must be one of the best eye surgeons in the world.

The most memorable aspect of the entire process of retinal re-attachment, other that fear, anxiety and pain, was the visual.  It started in my right eye with a black blob that quickly overcame sight in that eye.  With the left eye, 3 years later, it began with a dark grey net suddenly floating around in the eye (incidentally, while working on a digital collage entitled Achilles).  The optic nerve had also detached in the right eye and had to be reattached with a lazer and that was a crazy lightshow on its own.  During surgery, I could also see things descending into my eyeball.

During recovery, again the most noticeable aspect is the wild array of visual anomalies and aftereffects.  Dr. Ravi told me to expect a great deal of visual ‘noise’ for a while but that it would abate in time and it has.  I experienced everything from blobs and bubbles in my eye (I still have a small bubble floating around in my left eye); wild light shows during surgery; everything in a slightly psychedelic net of color after surgery; moire, bloodvessel and water patterns; and a very strong sense of ‘afterburn’ or ‘afterimage’ when I close my eyes.  I was, and still am, sensitive to strong light and experience a vivid ‘afterburn’ image when I close my eyes.  What I mean is that if I look into a red light I experience a green blob on closing my eyelids.  Even now when I close my eyes I see strong, colorful, and often moving patterns.  I also still have difficulty driving at night into oncoming lights that cause strong and opaque color blobs to float in my vision from closing my eyes.

In the few months after surgery, I became interested in seeing if I could recreate some of the visual effects I was seeing on Photoshop.  I tried many different things and created about 400 files from which these final images are derived.  Some effects, like the water patterns and moirĂ©s didn’t make strong finished images and other images seemed too literal or photographic.

The images that worked best for me were of lights with the color reversed and merged with a textural background plate.  These images both replicated the effect of ‘after’ images but, on the highly textured background plate, also had the look and texture of handmade etchings which I like in digital prints.  So, in the end, these images were chosen for their aesthetic and ‘printerly’ qualities.

These images make beautiful prints and I have printed a series at 17X22” and one at 23X32”.  I haven’t yet printed x-large prints at 44” wide but think that a couple of these images would look good printed really large.  I'm still wondering if I should call the series Retina, which means net, but that may be too literal.  I'd appreciate comments.

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