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Human Topology

The idea of combining Topological mathematics with photographed abstract nudes is the foundation of the concept I call Human Topology.

For a long as people have been able to draw and sculpt there has always been a desire to represent the human form through art. Starting with the hands, in some of the earliest known cave drawings, and sculptures dating back at least 35,000 years people have had a long and rich history celebrating their bodies in various forms of expressions and art. One reason for this attraction may be that the flexibility of our bodies in combination with light and shadow creates an infinite range of possibilities for artistic expression.

Once photography became a way of creating art, beyond mere documentary portraits, the way a body is lit and the way shadows are cast resulted in a whole new art form namely that of the nude photograph. Traditionally, these are executed in Black and White as a way to focus on lines, shapes, shadows, and tonal values and they are now considered one of the classics of photographic art when photographing the nude body.

According to Wolfram Mathworld, Topology is the mathematical study of the properties that are preserved through deformations, twistings, and stretchings of objects. Hence, a circle is topologically equivalent to an ellipse, into which it can be deformed by stretching. Thus, one of the central ideas in topology is that spatial objects like circles and spheres can be treated as objects in their own right, and the knowledge of these objects is independent of how they are represented in space. In other words, Topology can be used to abstract the inherent connectivity of objects while ignoring their detailed form.

By using different body postures in combination with various shapes of projected light on the human form, I am exploring the change brought about by the intersection of light on the curves of the body. In these explorations, the viewer will frequently lose the details of the original body parts, and it becomes necessary to extrapolate back to the human form via the topologically equivalent transformation displayed on the body.

Jannik Plaetner
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