Photographer Tom O Scott finds inspiration for his beautiful abstractions in the aging and rusted bodies of old vehicles. Visit his website to see more of his amazing work.
As a child, I was surrounded with German Expressionist, Japanese, and Chinese art inside my house, and the mountains of Colorado on the outside. These became the stimuli for my art as a photographer five decades later.
I started my career in abstracts with scenes created in the sand by the receding tides. What attracted me to this subject matter was the ephemeral nature of the image — these were patterns that would be washed away in a matter of hours.
My latest passion over the past three years has been aging autos, trucks, and railroad cars found in museums and ghost towns around Southern California. Initially, what attracted me was the combination of texture and form.
The more images I created, the more I found metaphors leaping out at me. First, there were spectacular landscapes that reminded me of Colorado.
All sorts of animals made their appearance as I went on. Some of these came from mythology, which I loved as a child.
The influence of German Expressionism and Chinese/Japanese art made itself manifest in many of my works.
I am a big believer in metaphor. Whenever I go to an art gallery, I notice that the average amount of time a viewer spends with an image is about three seconds. A successful image to me is one that a) hasn’t been done thousands of times before; and b) engages the viewer’s imagination and interest for more than a fleeting moment.
Metaphors that evoke landscapes, animals, human situations, mythology, humor, and cultural archetypes help me connect with the viewer. I consider the title of each work to be an integral and vital part of the creation. In fact, I have had viewers at exhibitions come up to me and thank me for the titles of my works.
In reality, these images come from parts of vehicles that are only a few inches square, some the size of a quarter or less. I almost always use a macro lens to capture them, but for ones farther away, on the top of a railcar, for example, I employ a 600 mm lens typically used by wildlife photographers. I generally print my images on canvas, in sizes ranging from 24″ x 32″ to 30″ x 40″.
Occasionally, I am asked, “Are those the real colors?” To me there is nothing noble in presenting a picture “as is.” I do not consider myself a documentarian. My aim is to create an image that represents the scene as I imagine it, and to that extent, I use the processing tools that most professional photographers use.
This series has been featured in three solo exhibitions to date, and is in the private and corporate collections across the United States.
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