The Periphery of Perception
Ryan + Trevor Oakes
Ryan and Trevor Oakes have held a lifelong conversation about the nature of visual perception, resulting in a complex new method for drawing reality. In this panel discussion, writer Damien James and photographer Michael Benson join the Oakes brothers to discuss their drawing method, as well as their approach to thinking about light, optics, and vision.
Michael Benson is a photographer, writer, and filmmaker. During the last decade he has staged a series of large-scale exhibitions of planetary photography internationally. He also has authored three illustrated books with space themes. A central premise of much of this work is that the visual legacy of five decades of space exploration constitutes a significant chapter in the history of photography. As a writer and photographer, Benson has contributed feature articles, op-ed pieces, and photographs to many magazines and newspapers, including The New Yorker, The Atlantic, The New York Times, and The Washington Post. Recently, he worked with director Terrence Malick to conceive of and produce space and cosmology sequences for Malick’s film Tree of Life. The film won the Palme d’Or at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival. Benson’s next two books, Planetfall and Nanocosmos, will focus on new solar system images and electron microscope photography.
Damien James is a self-taught artist and writer based in Chicago since 1996. He has contributed essays and features to art21.org, the Chicago Reader, Newcity, and Saatchi Gallery online, among others, and his drawings have shown in the US and abroad. James is currently at work on illustrations for a piece of fiction by Jonathan Lethem scheduled for exhibition in the spring of 2012 and publication thereafter; he is also in the early stages of writing a book about his teenage years of employment at the Chicago Tribune, as well as a collection of profiles on local artists.
The work of brothers Ryan and Trevor Oakes is held in the permanent collections of The Field Museum and the Spertus Museum in Chicago, and the New York Public Library. Their public art projects include a large-scale outdoor sculpture that debuted in Chicago's Millennium Park in the summer of 2009, and is now installed at O'Hare International Airport. They have exhibited and lectured about their artwork across the US and abroad, most recently working with the Palazzo Strozzi Museum in Florence, Italy, during the summer of 2011, and exhibiting at CUE Art Foundation in New York City.
In the fall of 2011, they will do a drawing project at the Getty Center in Los Angeles, and in the winter of 2012, they will be in residence creating an installation at EMPAC. In the fall of 2012, they'll return to Florence, Italy, to re-envision an artwork of Brunelleschi, creator of the first perspective experiment on the books, demonstrated around 1425.