Artist Takes Large-Format Photos While in Free-Fall

February 9, 2010 | Zoltan Arva-Toth | Film | 5 Comments |
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Seattle-based artist Aaron Gustafson has become the first person to take large-format photographs while skydiving. Gustafson designed a helmet-mounted 4x5-inch film camera, and during the period of several months he made one photograph per jump while skydiving at speeds greater than 130 miles per hour. The camera is a cube-shaped acrylic and aluminum box that contains a wide-angle lens and houses a single sheet of 4x5-inch film at a time. “Photography is in a strange place now where everyone is taking camera-phone snapshots and posting them online,” Gustafson said. “But photography can still be grand and larger-than-life. This project came out of a desire for that. It’s a hybrid of new and old, calm and chaos.”

Press Release

ARTIST BECOMES FIRST TO TAKE LARGE-FORMAT PHOTOGRAPHS WHILE IN FREEFALL

Seattle artist Aaron Gustafson shot a series of large-format landscape photographs while skydiving using a custom-designed 4x5 helmet-camera.

Seattle, Washington, 8 February 2010 – Seattle-based artist Aaron Gustafson recently completed a series of large-format landscape photographs that he shot while freefalling through the skies of New York and Washington State. He became the first person to take large-format photographs while skydiving.

“I wanted to upend the norms by making a [large-format] camera to be used in a wildly different way,” Gustafson said. “This is what you’d get if you threw Ansel Adams out of a plane.”

Gustafson designed a helmet-mounted 4x5-inch film camera, and during the period of several months he made one photograph per jump while skydiving at speeds greater than 130 miles per hour.

“There is a long history between photography and adventure,” artist-photographer Arthur Ou said of the project. “Gustafson’s work … continues on this lineage, though not without a sense of wit and sincere irony.”

Artist Miranda Lichtenstein added, “Gustafson contemplates the sublime by jumping into it—literally … Picture [Dutch conceptual artist] Bas Jan Ader working for the [US] Geological Survey.”

Gustafson specially designed the camera that he used for the series. He made a prototype and then worked with a machinist and a plastics specialist to realize the final design. The camera is a cube-shaped acrylic and aluminum box that contains a wide-angle lens and houses a single sheet of 4x5-inch film at a time.

After learning to solo skydive, Gustafson made approximately 25 photo-dedicated jumps in New York and Washington State. The photographs show expansive aerial views of the Shawangunk Ridge in New York, and the Cascade Range and Puget Sound in Washington State. Subtle blur in the images alludes to how they were made.

“Photography is in a strange place now where everyone is taking camera-phone snapshots and posting them online,” Gustafson said. “But photography can still be grand and larger-than-life. This project came out of a desire for that. It’s a hybrid of new and old, calm and chaos.”

Aaron Gustafson is a 2009 MFA graduate of Parsons The New School for Design, New York. The freefall 4x5 project was a part of his final thesis, which was shown at Arnold & Sheila Aronson Galleries, New York, in 2009. Gustafson was born in Washington State and is currently based in Seattle. Much of his work deals with man in relation to nature and challenging conventions of photography.

Web site: http://www.aarongustafson.net/

Video document: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GEmpSRro5EE



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#1 smart lipo

I really enjoyed looking at these. i’ve tried this technique before and didn’t feel my outcome to be perfect, but as always, practice makes perfect. but these are some really good ones. :)

11:31 am - Tuesday, February 9, 2010

#2 Daf

So impractical for this purpose! Just a publicity stunt.... which has obviously worked.

11:55 am - Tuesday, February 9, 2010

#3 Daf

Someone showed me this link - skydiving with an IMAX camera! Thought people might be interested.
http://www.lastrefuge.co.uk/data/articles/imax/IMAX_freefall_page1.html

12:31 am - Wednesday, February 10, 2010

#4 Cata

Artist? You must be joking. Even I can take better photos than him. Just look at his lousy mountain set. Epic fail.

5:03 pm - Wednesday, February 10, 2010

#5 Pablo

Breathtaking photo -- and a cool idea!

5:56 pm - Tuesday, February 16, 2010