Constraint Picture

con·straint (kn-strnt)

1. The threat or use of force to prevent, restrict, or dictate the action or thought of others.
2. The state of being restricted or confined within prescribed bounds.
3. One that restricts, limits, or regulates.


For now, this is the final version of The Constraint. There is another version, but it's still in the process of working. There is also a partner piece which is not yet completed.

There are four different photographs in this picture and two scanned images.

The first two photographs consist entirely of just the birds. There are actually six photographs of birds in flight that I took several years back. The birds are seagulls (although you can't tell from the image, really... the point wasn't what type of birds they were, but that they were birds).

The final photograph was a really difficult night picture I took with my digital camera. I went underneath one of the trees and stood in a position where the moon could be seen between the many branches and aimed up. When taking a picture at night, even if it's aimed at the moon, everything in the lens will look pitch black. The flash provides the light, but since everything looks black before the picture is taken, it becomes very difficult to aim. This took three tries.

The final photograph is a picture taken of a pond in Japan. The memorial stones (I believe that's what those are) looked eerie in a really neat way, so I borrowed it. The photograph was taken by my mother and is used with her permission - because there were many turtles in the pond u.u;.

Finally, the two items I placed on the scanner bed and scanned seperately are the top to a hand-carved wooden container and a chain. The top has the zodiac carved into it and I thought it would help too. However, since it is died a deep red with gold trim, it was difficult to fix the color so as not to be too much of a stand out. The chain was simply multiplied and free transformed.

I used layer blending modes and I also used the eraser at varying degrees of opacity.

The big thing about this picture isn't how it was made, but the depth of meaning it holds. The images are put together to move your eye across the piece in a certain way and slowly allow you to come across some sort of realization. The realization is the meaning of all the images combined.

Your eye should focus first on the zodiac, representing the months and time itself in a sense. The image will then follow the white birds (white indicates spirituality) to the moon in the center and then to the Japanese memorial stones and pond-side. It can easily be mistaken for a graveyard on a riverbank (I love to think of the mythological river Styx when I see that part). The tree limbs should be realized as your eye is still moving... they're there. The chains are an afterthought to you - they are not only the curtains, but the restraints.

Typically, putting any triangle in a corner of an artwork is considered a bad thing. This was done on purpose. The chains represent the constricting nature of the surface on which art is represented. It's not infinite.

Likewise the birds and moon represent the same thing.... restraint. Birds don't normally fly at night. Like many people, the birds rest at night and fly during the day. The night itself is constraining.

The tree symbolizes growth, but in this picture that isn't its full meaning. The inner branches facing towards the moon have leaves, but the branches facing away and further towards the edge of the page have less leaves.

The overall meaning of the picture is that life is constraining. It symbolizes the end of life at some point.

This picture is meant to be a little creepy and eerie... the idea itself was pretty creepy too, I guess. But I have an idea for a companion piece that will be the opposite. Basically the beginning of life using pretty much the same theme and some of the same items (the zodiac and some different birds as well as trees and sky).

I'm still working out what to do with it, though.
Continue Reading: Styx