I began my Regeneration series in the spring of 2020, as a way to bring others and myself some color and joy during intense and stressful times. Photographing the California poppies in my backyard provided grounding and relief while my studio and sculpture-based practice was on hold. I was inspired by the iconic California Poppies, which evoke resilience, as this hardy species can survive in the harshest conditions and are some of the first flowers to return after wildfires. The project now includes other locally-found native wildflowers, connecting viewers to the natural forces found right in our backyards.
I transformed my photographs of the poppies using a program that my wife (a programmer and data scientist) wrote. The original vision for the distortions began during a residency in Brooklyn, with the Gowanus Canal, a highly contaminated Superfund Site, as our muse. The waters there, while toxic, are often unnaturally beautiful, displaying surreal colors, shapes and patterns. Our first art and technology collaboration resulted in images that felt like a perfect reflection on our current (un)reality. Applying these programmatic manipulations to the vibrant photographs of the wildflowers yielded unexpected results that felt painterly, fluid, and evocative. While the images are rooted in environmental urgency, they also communicate the power of nature to heal and inspire.
I have begun integrating interactive technologies such as augmented reality and 360-degree video, to create more immersive experiences and new connections. I now collaborate with creative technology artist Phil Spitler, who added a layer of augmented reality to select artworks in the exhibition. The interactivity brings the flowers to life as they appear to dance and grow in three-dimensional space. Viewers can feel as if they are walking through the artworks as the flowers flow and move around them. The effects suggest the movement of reflections in water, wind, or fire. Or at times, they might echo the flickering of memories and the passing of time, as the flowers bloom and fade.