Tuesday, June 27, 2017 This Week's Paper

Beauty in numbers

// Information art depicted through photos and animation at Mineral

Seattle-based musician-turned-artist John Fisher brings his multimedia art utilizing algorithms, numbers animation and programming to Mineral for the last show of 2010, “Algorithmic Drawings.”
The majority of pieces encased in the show highlight photographs of locations in Seattle and Tacoma - exactly where is hard to decipher. But one can note the themes behind why Fisher chose the locations: lines, angles and the patterns and shapes they form.

These facts should come as no surprise when the viewer learns that Fisher’s intent with these pieces is to “expose elegant geometry” through daily scenes. According to the show’s press release, he developed drawing algorithms and custom image scanning to create 2-D images based on underlying photographs. The one, central animation video in the center of the gallery was created using the same programming and utilizes images and sound made by the artist specifically for the show.

“In this exhibit I seek to document inspiring images in my everyday life in the city, and the hidden super-reality that I see in my imagination,” Fisher said in his artist statement. “Our minds naturally categorize visual forms into well-set categories to help us make sense of the world. Unfortunately, this categorization can make the simple, amazing truths we see every day seem mundane. I hope this art renders from ordinary things uniqueness, and points out beauty otherwise unnoticed.”

In “Green Spiral Stairs,” Murray Morgan Bridge is depicted amid Fisher’s enhancements. Metal steps with wood beams are visible to the right of the piece, and the way in which the photo is positioned makes it appear as though the stairs are descending, and towards the back there is light coming through an opening. Fisher integrated 3D and computer-generated, smaller multicolored geometric chains coursed throughout the piece and layered them to create a futuristic look that gives an impression of movement.

“Courthouse Explosion” was prefaced with the following: “I was questioned by a security guard when I was shooting this courthouse in Seattle. They asked me what I was taking pictures for. I should have said, ‘I’m going to blow it up.’” The scene was taken at night, and the view is from the bottom facing up at an angle. The building stands to the right and all the levels their windows are visible in the dark scene. Fisher enhanced the photo by attaching rod-like bars to the building that have squares attached at the end. They are layered on top of each other so frequently and at so many angles that they look almost like sticks sticking out of the building, or metal branches. The forms take on beautiful collage-like characteristics as they layer, fan out and seemingly have light emanating from within. Each is colored in a warm orange, pink and red color scheme. Underneath the ceiling and top level, Fisher lighted it a bright blue-ish green tint that adds to the ethereal effect he has created.

Another Tacoma piece highlights a truck and utilizes a long exposure. “Tideflats Ghost Semi” features a decrepit building with a purple-pink sky behind that makes it look as though the photo was taken at dawn or sunset. Blue, purple and pink swirls grace the building and orange-red lines burn through the top, middle and bottom of the photograph to signify where the semi once was and its movement. The overall effect of the piece is beautiful and calming – practically the antithesis of what most think of the sounds of a semi-truck roaring by.

The animated video playing throughout were two elements at the opening that kept drawing the eye and ears over. The central element of the video is a branching tree that changes and re-forms constantly. Viewer participation occurs by having visitors enter algorithms to change the shape of the central geometric image.

Elegantly depicted, rooted in science and arithmetic, and depicting Tacoma and Seattle, “Algorithmic Drawings” is a fitting last show of the year for Mineral’s and owner Lisa Kinoshita’s eclectic tastes and affinity for nature-based visuals. Stop by before it is gone.

“Algorithmic Drawings” by John Fisher is currently on view through Jan. 29 at Mineral, located at 301 Puyallup Ave., Ste. A, in the Dome District. Holiday hours are Thursday through Saturday noon to 5 p.m. and by appointment (hours may vary, so please call ahead). For more information, call (253) 250-7745 or visit