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  • You may want to take a closer look.

  • There's more to this painting than meets the eye.

  • And yes, it's an acrylic painting of a man,

  • but I didn't paint it on canvas.

  • I painted it directly on top of the man.

  • What I do in my art is I skip the canvas altogether,

  • and if I want to paint your portrait,

  • I'm painting it on you, physically on you.

  • That also means you're probably going to end up

  • with an earful of paint,

  • because I need to paint your ear on your ear.

  • Everything in this scene, the person, the clothes,

  • chairs, wall, gets covered in a mask of paint

  • that mimics what's directly below it,

  • and in this way, I'm able to take a three-dimensional scene

  • and make it look like a two-dimensional painting.

  • I can photograph it from any angle,

  • and it will still look 2D.

  • There's no Photoshop here.

  • This is just a photo

  • of one of my three-dimensional paintings.

  • You might be wondering how I came up with this idea

  • of turning people into paintings.

  • But originally, this had nothing to do

  • with either people or paint.

  • It was about shadows.

  • I was fascinated with the absence of light,

  • and I wanted to find a way that I could give it materiality

  • and pin it down before it changed.

  • I came up with the idea of painting shadows.

  • I loved that I could hide within this shadow

  • my own painted version,

  • and it would be almost invisible

  • until the light changed, and all of a sudden

  • my shadow would be brought to the light.

  • I wanted to think about what else I could put shadows on,

  • and I thought of my friend Bernie.

  • But I didn't just want to paint the shadows.

  • I also wanted to paint the highlights

  • and create a mapping on his body in greyscale.

  • I had a very specific vision of what this would look like,

  • and as I was painting him,

  • I made sure to follow that very closely.

  • But something kept on flickering before my eyes.

  • I wasn't quite sure what I was looking at.

  • And then when I took that moment to take a step back,

  • magic.

  • I had turned my friend into a painting.

  • I couldn't have foreseen that

  • when I wanted to paint a shadow,

  • I would pull out this whole other dimension,

  • that I would collapse it,

  • that I would take a painting and make it my friend

  • and then bring him back to a painting.

  • I was a little conflicted though,

  • because I was so excited about what I'd found,

  • but I was just about to graduate from college

  • with a degree in political science,

  • and I'd always had this dream

  • of going to Washington, D.C.,

  • and sitting at a desk

  • and working in government.

  • (Laughter)

  • Why did this have to get in the way of all that?

  • I made the tough decision

  • of going home after graduation

  • and not going up to Capitol Hill,

  • but going down to my parents' basement

  • and making it my job to learn how to paint.

  • I had no idea where to begin.

  • The last time I'd painted,

  • I was 16 years old at summer camp,

  • and I didn't want to teach myself how to paint

  • by copying the old masters

  • or stretching a canvas

  • and practicing over and over again on that surface,

  • because that's not what this project was about for me.

  • It was about space and light.

  • My early canvases ended up being

  • things that you wouldn't expect to be used as canvas,

  • like fried food.

  • It's nearly impossible

  • to get paint to stick to the grease in an egg.

  • (Laughter)

  • Even harder was getting paint to stick

  • to the acid in a grapefruit.

  • It just would erase my brush strokes

  • like invisible ink.

  • I'd put something down, and instantly it would be gone.

  • And if I wanted to paint on people,

  • well, I was a little bit embarrassed

  • to bring people down into my studio

  • and show them that I spent my days in a basement

  • putting paint on toast.

  • It just seemed like it made more sense

  • to practice by painting on myself.

  • One of my favorite models actually ended up being

  • a retired old man

  • who not only didn't mind sitting still

  • and getting the paint in his ears,

  • but he also didn't really have much embarrassment

  • about being taken out into very public places

  • for exhibition,

  • like the Metro.

  • I was having so much fun with this process.

  • I was teaching myself how to paint in all these different styles,

  • and I wanted to see what else I could do with it.

  • I came together with a collaborator, Sheila Vand,

  • and we had the idea of creating paintings

  • in a more unusual surface,

  • and that was milk.

  • We got a pool. We filled it with milk.

  • We filled it with Sheila. And I began painting.

  • And the images were always

  • completely unexpected in the end,

  • because I could have a very specific image

  • about how it would turn out,

  • I could paint it to match that,

  • but the moment that Sheila laid back into the milk,

  • everything would change.

  • It was in constant flux,

  • and we had to, rather than fight it, embrace it,

  • see where the milk would take us

  • and compensate to make it even better.

  • Sometimes, when Sheila would lay down in the milk,

  • it would wash all the paint off of her arms,

  • and it might seem a little bit clumsy,

  • but our solution would be, okay, hide your arms.

  • And one time, she got so much milk in her hair

  • that it just smeared all the paint off of her face.

  • All right, well, hide your face.

  • And we ended up with something far more elegant

  • than we could have imagined,

  • even though this is essentially the same solution

  • that a frustrated kid uses when he can't draw hands,

  • just hiding them in the pockets.

  • When we started out on the milk project,

  • and when I started out,

  • I couldn't have foreseen that I would go

  • from pursuing my dream in politics

  • and working at a desk

  • to tripping over a shadow

  • and then turning people into paintings

  • and painting on people in a pool of milk.

  • But then again, I guess it's also not unforeseeable

  • that you can find the strange in the familiar,

  • as long as you're willing to look beyond

  • what's already been brought to light,

  • that you can see what's below the surface,

  • hiding in the shadows,

  • and recognize that there can be more there

  • than meets the eye.

  • Thank you.

  • (Applause)

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A2 BEG US paint painting milk sheila canvas shadow

【TED】Alexa Meade: Your body is my canvas (Your body is my canvas | Alexa Meade)

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    Jack   posted on 2017/05/12
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