Artist Adam Ferriss Puts Old Techniques to New Use

by: Emily Kirkpatrick

September 29, 2012

Adam Ferris Tri-color Seperation WILD Arts

American artist Adam Ferriss puts your cell phone’s color-manipulated images to shame. Using techniques as old as color photography itself, Ferriss sets his camera up in one place and then allows it to capture the movements of people, the ocean, the sky, and the world around him, under three different types of exposure.

The process harkens back to the first color photos ever produced by the Scottish physicist James Maxwell around 1860. The scientist, who informed much of our understanding in the field of optics and electromagnetic theory, speculated that if three black and white photographs of the same object were taken through red, green and violet filters and then layered on top of each other, the human brain would be able to fill in the gaps to create a completed color image. 

Adam Ferris Tri-color Separations WILD Arts

This idea originated from the Young-Heimholtz’s theory, which stipulates that the human eye has three types of photoreceptors that are sensitive to red, green and blue light which the brain then processes and turns into an accurate image of the world we percieve. It’s a principle that continues to define all of our modern image software, technology, and optics.

Ferriss’s photography works in a similar way, except the artist, rather than allowing your brain to create a realistic image from the photograph, is more interested in breaking the color down into its components and taking the everyday and familiar and making it somehow new and strange again. The result is vibrant, surrealist, otherworldly images of nature that appear to be almost 3D. By running his layered, colored images through pixel sorting algorithms, Ferriss blurs the lines between new and old technology to produce truly unexpected and original results.


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