• April 2012

NYC Photographer Steven Berkowitz Investigates Organic Structure

By Steven Berkowitz, Photographer, musician, teacher
www.stevenberkowitz.com

Photography can be used to capture small pieces of the natural world in the form of patterns of growth, movement, distribution, and decay. By combining sequences, series, and arrays of photographs of multiple pictures, it is possible to build visual models of the underlying organic structure.

Scanning these images into a computer system converts the visual definition into a mathematical model. Mathematics is an objective descriptor. Once numeric, the forms and patterns can easily be manipulated without destroying the internal relationships that define the source.

Translating the data into a musical vocabulary generates acoustic models of the original subject. The visual and aural images are equivalent. Two images of the same organic patterns are presented simultaneously to two sensory organs; the eyes and the ears. The essence of this work is the comparison of the two and the visceral effect it has on its audience.

Following are aesthetic descriptions of the media in terms of domain, perception, modeling, interaction, and ubiquity and their philosophical implications. Scroll down for examples and details.


Domain Structure: Somewhere between the contrived geometrics of man’s invention and the randomness of chance reside the patterns of nature. By examining this realm, one can gain insight into how the world works, and thereby improve oneself and contribute to improving society in general.

Extended Time: The environment of lateral imaging is extended time, the time between the ticks of the clock. The world is continually changing, moving, and there is no clear way to define the beginning or end of any event. Closely examining the dynamic shifts within small segments of changes provides access to an intimate view of nature.

Macroscopics: Following the holographic paradigm, every minute piece of the world carries the structural information of all else. Adopting a strategy that is analogous to temporal extension, one can study very small pieces of the world and learn a great deal about the universality of organic structure.

Relative Perception: No single sensory organ, if any, gives us a true picture of reality. In the same way, each artistic medium also presents its own vision. The act of looking at an object or event changes it both figuratively and physically. Every picture is actually a recording of the interaction between the viewer and the viewed.

Multiple Perception: Only by displaying many images in varying media can the viewer move closer to the essence of the subject. Comparisons of the many perceptions must be made to understand how the images communicate. The result is Compound Perception, the key tool to realizing Lateral Imaging.

Lateral Perception: When we use the physical, emotional, and conceptual disciplines to examine our experiences, it is the interaction of all our resources that makes it possible to perceive. Every aspect of an artistic work affects the way all other aspects are perceived. Lateral Imaging is a model of human function.

Trans-Sensuality: The ultimate value of a set of inter-media images is not how any part looks, thinks, or feels, but how all interact to provide a compound vision of the source’s organic structure. The foreground and background are determined by how the audience focuses their attention. The audience becomes part of the work as they create the final mix.

Synesthesia: The simultaneous perception of the same image through multiple senses can create a profound experience known as synesthesia. This is a lateral, self-referential system. Ultimately the audience is seduced into a hyper-aesthetic state of ecstasy. The physical body literally vibrates in synchronization with the artwork.

Click here for more: www.stevenberkowitz.com


About Steven Berkowitz

Steven Berkowitz was born in Philadelphia, but has lived most of his life in Greenwich Village, New York City. He is a multimedia artist who works with both photography and sound. He shoots sequences of photographs to capture organic patterns in nature and then translates these patterns into sound using a process called sonification.

He is involved in other even broader works that incorporate performance, installation, video, and projection to present what he calls “Compound Perception.” These broad works present the same essential subject material to the viewer in various forms from visual to aural to kinesthetic, to produce a rich artistic experience for an audience.

By day, Berkowitz is an associate professor of photography at the Tyler School of Art at Temple University in Philadelphia, and the area head of the Visual Studies program. He has developed a new series of classes called Hybrid Photography to marry 19th and 20th century processes with 21st century technology to create unique ways of seeing the world, resulting in a new aesthetics and visual vocabulary for making photographic images.

Berkowitz’s photographic work has been exhibited in many countries, and his primary gallery is now Omotesando Gallery in Tokyo, Japan, where he has taught over many summers for Temple University.

He has also produced numerous music recordings, which are available through the Apple iTunes store. His music has been broadcast internationally. Click here to take a listen: www.fluidmusix.com.

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