Art and science appear to be polar opposites for most people (one driven by emotion, the other by reason) but John Chervinsky mediates both grounds in an extremely cerebral and nuanced fashion. His background is particularly interesting – he is an engineer working in the field of applied physics, and spent eighteen years running a particle accelerator at Harvard University. His practice integrates accelerator technology with artistic analysis, driven by an interest “in the tensions expressed in the comparison between reality and representation”.
Chervinsky’s ongoing exhibition at Corden Potts Gallery features two series of photographs entitled An Experiment in Perspective and Studio Physics. In explaining the former, John stresses that “lenses and cameras are the tools of the trade for a working photographer but it is the field of optics, as it relates to human vision, that provides the possibilities." To create these photographs, Chervinsky worked in his attic studio with two blackboards, one vertical and one horizontal. Tapping on the light that streamed into the room from a single window, he aimed his large-format view camera towards the intersection of the two slates to record chalk markings, combined with real objects. He describes his aversion to “a single narrow perspective”, instead aiming to “expose the pitfalls of doing so”.
Studio Physics explores the physicality of both animate and inanimate objects in space over time. Referencing time and motion studies by Muybridge and Edgerton, Chervinsky questions what happens when photographers decide to work outside of the accepted range of image capture intervals (ranging from 100 nanoseconds to several seconds). He photographs still life compositions, then crops certain areas in the selected images and sends them to a painting factory in China. An anonymous Chinese painter then depicts what is in the cropped sections, and sends his or her work back to Chervinsky in the mail. Once he receives the finished painting, he inserts it into the original setup and photographs the result.
Check out Chervinsky’s visionary work at Corden Potts Gallery until 2 November.
Corden Potts Gallery, 49 Geary Street, Suite 410, San Francisco, USA
Images courtesy of the artist and the gallery.