• Untitled #102

  • Untitled #156

  • Untitled #46

  • Untitled #120

  • Untitled #108

  • Untitled #4

  • Untitled #122

  • Untitled #151

  • Untitled #1

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  • Untitled #119

  • Untitled #70

Concentric Diffraction

(2006 – 2008)

Concentric Diffraction is another series in my ongoing investigation into photographing the internal mechanisms of machinery such as springs and gears.

I’m inspired to explore the characteristics of light as it relates to mechanical objects. In these images light emanates outward and demonstrates the motion and energy these objects were originally intended to fulfill. I also see these images as a metaphor for the constantly revolving, energetic, yet restrained cognitive patterns that plague us while we struggle to create something new and outside of our comfort zone.

The curvilinear forms in the photographs are related to the technical process. I modified a Polaroid camera so light could focus, not through a lens, but through a zone plate; a flat surface of concentric rings that uses diffraction to focus light. This ringed Fresnel diffraction method mirror’s the subject’s revolutions, twists and turns. The source of light is provided, by the explosion of magnesium material inside multiple large, synched flash bulbs held inches from the subject. Combined with the zone plate, the result is an intentional ethereal effect that shifts the meaning from the original functionality of springs and gears, to something more abstract. For me, the intensity and force of light seems to reveal a latent energy in otherwise static objects. I recorded the images on delicate Polaroid film where imperfections were left untouched as part of a contrast to the perfectly machined objects.

It is my hope that the imagery inspires and appreciation for the unseen world of mechanics that keeps everything around us moving well. But equally important is a recognition of our own circular thinking that can work under the surface to constrain our creative potential.

© Copyright - Howard Lewis 2021