Victor Raphael @ ZZYZX A Creative Journey
by Bob Goldstein
Sometimes the title of a work of art is inextricably connected to the work. This is the case with "Victor Raphael @ ZZYZX A Creative Journey", a work of art that is a living process, an exploration of very late Twentieth and very early Twenty-first Century art and technology. Victor's journey is physical and metaphysical in that he's dealing with photographs, paint, paper, video, music, computers and software, in addition to exploring the timeless issues of our relationship to the Universe. Like an explorer, he sets out into the unknown, imagining what lies ahead, but never really knowing what his creation will be until it's completed.
I first met Victor in 1995 when I was President of ZZYZX Visual Systems, one of the pioneers in Iris digital fine art printing and advanced digital capture techniques, based in Los Angeles. Victor had been working with photographic and traditional art media: Polaroid prints, film transparencies, acrylic paint, gold and metal leaf; and he wanted to explore the creative possibilities of digital printing technology. Victor and I immediately began experimenting with his images, marveling at the heretofore unseen beauty that was revealed by viewing the high resolution digital files we created from his Polaroid artworks. We discovered that Victor's work not only transferred beautifully to IRIS ink jet prints on various substrates, but that his art also manifested itself profoundly in soft display, on the computer screen. This was an unexpected and thrilling discovery.
1995 was a year of greatly accelerated change in digital imaging. Apple Computer had just debuted a technology called QuickTimeVR (QTVR) which allowed creation of 3D interactive images which could be navigated to simulate traveling through real spaces. QTVR was a perfect match for Victor's Space Field series. It transformed an essentially flat, two dimensional image into a 3D universe that viewers could "travel" through. The interactive version of Victor's work could only be viewed on a computer, so we needed to create a context for its presentation and, because in 1995, the World Wide Web was only just emerging as a mass medium, we decided to enlist the staff of ZZYZX in creating a CD-ROM, "Victor Raphael @ ZZYZX A Creative Journey." Our goal was to present as many facets of Victor's work as possible and document his creating that work. Interestingly, Victor's work, now informed and transformed by digital technology, remained analogue, as he continued to photograph and then paint on his images. As a teaching and historical reference, we also documented all of the technical and creative processes that our staff utilized in collaborating with Victor in producing the digital versions of his work.
Victor's evolution as an artist, using digital technology to communicate his art in new ways, continues to this day. We are exploring new technologies which will further enhance the Space Field series and planning new work which combine Victor's interest in digital cameras and video. Victor has presented the material in many forums. Much of the work on the CD-ROM has migrated to the Web. Art and technology in this new century are inextricably linked, and Victor Raphael's work reflects this, while retaining the classic elements which speak to the heart.
Bob Goldstein, digital consultant and founder of Goldtop.com