The test of the search

The test of the search
Wynn Bullock, Color Light Abstraction 1071, 1960, Collection of de Saisset Museum, Gift of Wynn Bullock, 6.26 © Bullock Family Photography LLC.
by Lindsey Kouvaris '02 and Clay Hamilton |
For photographer Wynn Bullock, the journey was all about the search. And a new exhibit at the de Saisset museum explores his travels.

“Even though I know I can only travel a short distance, every step in that direction is a transcendental experience,” said photographer Wynn Bullock. He loved the unique realism photography imparts to the way we see the world—and he spent a lifetime experimenting photographically on his own creative journey.

A new exhibit at SCU’s de Saisset museum explores not only Bullock’s well known images of landscapes and figures, but also his lesser known abstractions of light. Together, the photographs illustrate the artist’s ongoing journey to self-discovery and his search for a means of communicating nature’s mysteries through the printed image. “Searching is everything—going beyond what you know,” he said. “The test of the search is really the things themselves, the things you seek to understand. What is important is not what you think about them, but how they enlarge you.”

Bullock’s career had long been marked by an aptitude for experimentation and a quest for deeper understanding. He began his artistic journey as a singer—a Broadway performer and a lover of classical music—but developed an affinity for photography in his mid-twenties and ultimately chose the captured image as his primary means of creative expression. Though he was active alongside well-known California photographers Ansel Adams, Imogen Cunningham, and Edward Weston, Bullock’s interest in developing and working with new photographic techniques set him apart from the “straight” photography of his peers.

In the 1940s, he investigated solarization, eventually earning a patent for his distinctive process. In the 1960s, he began to work with color and light, experimenting with the elements to see how they would react and interact with one another. And toward the end of his career, in the 1970s, Bullock used techniques like negative reversals and flipped images to enhance his photographs. Yet, despite his predilection for experimentation, his fascination with light remained constant. It is as evident in the subtle tonalities of his black-and-white images as it is in the vibrancy of his color light abstractions.

“The camera is not only an extension of the eye, but of the brain. It can see sharper, farther, nearer, slower, faster than the eye. It can see by invisible light. It can see the past, present, and future. Instead of using the camera only to reproduce objects, I want to use it to make what is invisible to the eye, visible.”

Seeking Answers: Photographs by Wynn Bullock runs through June 30, 2013 at SCU’s de Saisset museum. For more information, including current and future exhibits, visit their website.
 

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Spring 2014

Table of contents

Features

Radiant house

Building a house for the 2013 Solar Decathlon. That, and changing the world.

Américas cuisine

Telling a delicious tale of food and family with chef David Cordúa ’04.

Lessons from the field

Taut and tranquil moments in Afghanistan—an essay in words and images.

Mission Matters

Carried with compassion

The Dalai Lama’s first visit to Santa Clara.

Farther afield

Building safer houses in Ecuador. Research on capuchin monkeys in Costa Rica. Helping empower girls in The Gambia. And this is just the beginning for the Johnson Scholars Program.

What connects us

The annual State of the University address, including some fabulous news for the arts and humanities. And the announcement of Santa Clara 2020, a new vision for the University.