October 15, 1952|
New York City, NY, USA
|Field||Photography, Video Art|
|Training||Yale University, Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture|
Clifford Ross (born October 15, 1952) is an American artist who has worked in multiple media, including sculpture, painting, photography and video. His work is in the collections of The Museum of Modern Art, the J. Paul Getty Museum, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum.
Born in New York City, Ross earned a Bachelor of Arts in Art and Art History from Yale University in 1974, with a residency at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in 1973. Following an early career in painting and sculpture, Ross began his photographic work in 1995. A major milestone in his work is the Hurricane Series, begun in 1998. The black and white images in the series depict large-scale ocean waves shot by Ross from the water while tethered to an assistant on land.
In 2002, in order to photograph Mount Sopris in Colorado, Ross invented and received a patent for the R1 camera, and then went on to make some of the highest resolution large-scale landscape photographs in the world. In 2005, he designed and built the R2 360 degree video camera, as well as the i3 Digital Cyclorama, with Bran Ferren and other imaging scientists at Applied Minds, Inc. These creative steps into the digital world eventually led him to 3D computer generated animation and the creation of “Harmonium Mountain”, a video with an original score by Philip Glass.
In 2009, the Austin Museum of Art exhibited a ten year survey of Ross’ work “Outside Realism: Clifford Ross Photography”, and “Clifford Ross: Mountains and Sea” opened at the MADRE/Naples National Archaeological Museum in Italy.
The series was originally photographed from 1998–2001 and then extended by Ross in 2008, when he chose to capture the imagery with a digital camera instead of film. All the waves in the series were generated by hurricanes which were shot while the artist was in the surf, often up to his chest, tethered to the shore with a safety rope.
The Hurricane Series led to two other bodies of work, the Horizon Series and Grain Series. The Horizons are small images of a placid ocean with a low horizon line, which show minimal waves in the foreground and large expanses of sky above. In the Grain Series, perhaps the most abstract and minimal photographs ever made, photography was reduced to pure tonality, the subject reduced to light and the “grain” of the film’s emulsion.
Taken as a group, the Hurricanes, Horizons and Grain series compose a trilogy known as “Wave Music”, which was the subject of an eponymous book of Ross’ images that includes an essay by Arthur Danto and an interview by A.M. Homes (Blind Spot/Aperture 2005).
Typical of Ross’ dialectical working process, he found his next subject, far from the ocean in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado: Mount Sopris. For Ross, his experience of the sublime upon viewing the mountain scene was tied to his ability to see the overwhelming number of details that combined to create the majestic landscape in front of him. Ross’ desire to create a “you are there” experience for those who had not visited Mount Sopris drove him to push the “reality quotient” in photography past previous technical boundaries. Realizing the limitations of existing film and digital cameras, he invented the R1 high-resolution camera system, which uses military aerial film and a unique digital post-production process, capable of capturing the individual shingles on a barn from two miles away. The resulting photographs – the "Mountain” series – are among the highest resolution single shot landscapes in the world.
“Mountain Redux” and “Harmonium Mountain”
In a path similar to the one he took after the “Hurricane” series, Ross chose to recreate his experience of Mount Sopris in more abstract and poetic terms, focusing on elements of the original image and re-combining them in an array of dramatic and colorful structures. To create the “Mountain Redux” series of prints, Ross deployed complex computer-generated animation in new and inventive ways and printed them on custom manufactured paper from Japan.
His animation work then extended into video art when he built an extensive library of animated studies that provided the basis for the 5:26 short video known as “Harmonium Mountain”, for which Philip Glass created an original score.
“Harmonium Mountain” premiered at the Site Santa Fe International Biennial in 2010. Its second public showing, at the City University of New York, included a discussion with Robert Storr, Dean of the Yale School of Art and former curator at the Museum of Modern Art.
The film’s official New York premiere was at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2011, in the animated short films category.
Big Picture Summit
In late 2004, Ross convened the first “Big Picture Summit” at the Interactive Telecommunications Program at New York University. The two-day meeting was attended by 25 imaging and visualization scientists representing a number of institutions from across the United States, including Sandia National Laboratories, NYU and MIT. This first summit led to the publication of a scientific white paper “Big, Bigger, Biggest: Inventing Systems for Immense Digital Images (and Beyond) ” and two subsequent summit meetings at the University of Southern California and the National Geographic Society in 2005 and 2006.
Since 2004, Ross had been developing the i3 Digital Cyclorama with Bran Ferren and Applied Minds, Inc. It is a 360 degree immersive, high-resolution, rear projection theater with full surround audio and lighting. It is designed to enable artists, educators, scientists, and other content providers with a dramatic new media to display their work and their message.
Federal Courthouse in Austin, Texas
Ross has been commissioned to execute a public art project for the new Federal Courthouse bordering Republic Square Park in Austin, Texas, designed by architects Mack Scogin Merrill Elam Architects for the General Services Administration.
Ross’ high-resolution photograph of the Texas Hill Country is the basis for the imagery of the 28’ x 28’ stained glass wall he has designed. It includes massive hydraulically controlled doors, which open to combine two large-scale interior spaces for public events. It is being executed in conjunction with Franz Mayer & Co. of Munich, with whom Ross worked to combine centuries old stained glass techniques with 21st-century digital technology.
“Clifford Ross: Through the Looking Glass” by Hirmer Publishers, will include illustrations from all phases of design and construction of the stained-glass project, from pencil sketches and computer renderings to documentary photographs. The book will include an essay by celebrated architecture critic Paul Goldberger.
Lectures and Teaching
Ross has lectured in many university settings, including Princeton, Yale, and New York University. Since 2004, he has been a visiting artist in residence at NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Program.
He is an advisor to "Under the Great Wide Open", an innovative, practice-based project which explores the convergence of Performance Arts, Design, and Technology, conceived by Parsons The New School for Design, in partnership with The Old Vic Tunnels.
- “Abstract Expressionism: Creators and Critics: An Anthology”, Editor, Abrams 1991, ISBN 978-0-8109-1908-2
- “Big, Bigger, Biggest: Inventing Systems for Immense Digital Images (and Beyond)”, (Big Picture Summit, 2005), Co-author with David Rogers, Carl Diegert, Michael Hawley, Bran Ferren, and Eric Rosenthal
- "Laurie Anderson”, BOMB Magazine Fall 1999. Print.
- "Mountain IV”, Blind Spot Magazine Clifford Ross and Walter Salles, dialogue. Nov. 2005. Print.
- "On Melville and Modern Art”, The Melville Society’s quarterly publication “Extracts”, John Bryant interview, September 1995. Print.
- “On September 11”, BOMB Magazine Spring 2002. Print.
- “Phantasmagorey: The Work of Edward Gorey”, Author, Yale University Press 1974
- “The World of Edward Gorey”, Co-author with Karen Wilkin, Abrams 1996, ISBN 978-0-8109-3988-2
- “Wave Music”, Introduction by Arthur C. Danto, Interview by A.M. Homes, (Blind Spot/Aperture)
- “Wave Music”, BOMB Magazine Fall 2003. Print.
- Danto, Arthur C. "Hegel in the Hamptons: Clifford Ross's Meditation On Photography”, Preface. Wave Music Aperture Foundation, 2005. Print.
- Gopnik, Blake. "The Telling Nature of Photography: 'Ecotopia' Frames a Wondrous but Wounded Environment”, The Washington Post 05 Nov. 2006. Print.
- Gross, Samantha. "New High-Resolution Camera Nears Reality”, Associated Press 22 May 2004. Print.
- Kuan, Debora. "Clifford Ross”, Art in America Oct. 2008. Print.
- Pace, Gina. "Photographer Sees The Big Picture: Artist Clifford Ross' Giant Photos Attract NASA's Attention", CBSNews.com 25 Aug 2005. Print.
- Paumgarten, Nick. "Bad Ass Camera”, The New Yorker 21 Aug. 2006: 25-26. Print.
- Salamon, Julie. "Tom Swift's New Camera, Ready for Space and Spies: An Artist Turns Inventor”, The New York Times 09 Dec. 2004: E1. Print.
- Vanderbilt, Tom. "Sharp Shooter: A mongrel camera built from remnants produces astonishing detail”, ID Magazine June 2004. Print.
- Browne, Alex. "Postcard from the Edge | Clifford Ross for T”, New York Times Style Magazine May 2011.
- "Beach Endorsements”, New York Magazine June 27th - July 4th, 2011.
- Landes, Jennifer. "Clifford Ross: Mountain & Sea", East Hampton Star June 23rd, 2011. Print.
- Xin, Camille Hong. "Clifford Ross", M Magazine Summer 2011. Print.
- van Dyk, Deirdre. "Hurricanes: The Sound and the Fury", TIME Lightbox August 26, 2011. Print.
- Wong, Edward. "Beijing Gallery Puts a Focus on Global Warming", "New York Times" September 29, 2011. Print.
- "Clifford Ross Photography: Outside Realism”, Austin Museum of Art Interactive, February, 2009. 6 Video Interviews.
- "Cyclorama”, Studio 360 WNYC. Newman, Andrew A., prod. 26 May 2006. Radio.
- “Finding the Longitude: The Art of Invention/The Invention of Art”, Pop!Tech, 2006. Video.
- “Landscape: Seen, Remembered and Imagined”, The Graduate Center, CUNY. Clifford Ross & Robert Storr. Video.
- "Natural Disasters: Hurricane”, Studio 360 WNYC Raphael, Michael, prod. 9 November 2002, Radio
- "Photographer Sees The Big Picture”, CBS Evening News. 25 Aug. 2005. Television.
- “The Art of Innovation”, Dir. Jaci Judelson. Plum TV, 2009. Documentary.
- “The Reality Quotient”, EG 2006, Video.