Allen Hirsh, The Abstract Gardener

I am marketing my fine art. I can sell limited edition signed prints to you matted and framed , just matted, or sans mat and frame. Please inquire as to size and price (see contact page).           

A Short Bio

My interest in being an artist comes from growing up in a close-knit community in Central New Jersey in the early 1950s as the son of Jewish chicken farmers turned landscapers.  My parents’ switch to horticulture was a true gift to me, nurturing a lifelong fascination with exotic plants beginning in elementary school.  Indeed, it is photographic images of the plants that I grow in my own exotic garden that serve as the basis for much of my digital art.  I genuinely love to cultivate plants and admire their beauty, but even as a very young child I also had a passion for math and science that sealed my commitment to science at a very early age.  Today, I am a practicing biophysicist, and much of my early professional work focused on how plants survive subfreezing temperatures.  When I began graduate school at the University of Maryland  in the late 70s, I took a part-time job with a local nurseryman to help defray my expenses, a natural path for me as I had learned fancy landscaping from my very talented mother.  I joined The American Red Cross Blood Labs after earning a degree at U. MD. College Park in plant science, with my PhD on the biophysics of extreme freezing stresses in plants. From there I segued into the biophysics of protein stability, and in the last ten years I have concentrated on the development and marketing of a new chromatographic method for separating proteins, a technology I co-invented with my research partner, Dr. Latchezar Tsonev. Yet, I continued to maintain a keen interest in gardening and landscaping (see my website www.tucsoneast.com). In the late 80’s I landscaped on weekends, and had the opportunity to build large exotic gardens around sizable homes in Potomac. More recently I have built exotic gardens for myself. This continued successful involvement with a visual art form primed me to consider involvement with other visual arts, if I could find a way.
There is another seminal family tie to the digital images I have been creating.  My brother Gene is a classically trained artist in oils and watercolors, and by the late 80s he had also become a digital artist, using commercially available digital tools to create elegant representational paintings from photographs. When our first child came in 1992, he urged me to try fractal style painting with the computer because I am good at math and he said it might relax me. Until that point I, like a lot of biologists, was an indifferent computer programmer.  Now I had a second chance, and I dived into learning proper structured programming by building dynamic painting programs.  Gradually, this focus on computer programming proved invaluable to my professional scientific work.  But for 10 years every night I also worked very hard on digital imaging problems my brother gave me, until I finally turned exclusively to scientific programming at the turn of the century. But I never gave up wanting to paint. In the years since, slowly cooking in my subconscious was a scheme for a very large and complex color and space manipulation engine. It took me years to finally sit down and write the code, and I am continuously expanding the system, but it has been fully operational for some time, allowing me to create a wide array of images. My philosophy of Digital Art is that it represents another form of painting. Instead of using brush and paint and canvas, the digital artist uses the virtual easel of the screen and the tools available to manipulate bitmap files (Adobe Photoshop, Painter, etc.) to construct the image he or she is imagining. What I do is partially within that mold, but with a fundamentally unique twist. Except for blowing images up, changing file types and printing, all actual manipulation of my images is done exclusively with software engines that I write. A crude analogy would be a traditional artist who also creates his or her paints, brushes and canvas from raw materials. Yet that comparison is also profoundly misleading because in reality I am exploring the power of my linked system of multilevel mathematical equations to ferret out a small sample of the virtually infinite patterns hidden in the photographs I use as raw material. I do this by loading images, initially digital photographs, into my system then systematically transforming them by varying the input values to the painting program. Images can be hybridized with each other and retransformed any number of times. I never use commercial software to alter images, nor are pixels ever manipulated by hand-everything is done by the equation sets. My goal is to explore the image generating power inherent in the marriage of real world photos and mathematics. Ironically, given that my images are generated solely by mathematics, I think that the best analogy to my efforts comes from the Kabbalists,  the Jewish Mystics. They say that there are infinite layers of meaning that are hidden in the Torah (the Five Books of Moses), such that, by expanding each Hebrew letter into its name repeatedly, one can create an endlessly expanding text and here and there a new cosmic insight will emerge. That is somewhat analogous to what I do with my tools as a digital artist. Part of the art is the images created, part of it is the invention of a continuously growing image transformation engine. In this way I demonstrate that hidden in ordinary photographic images of flowers, landscapes, everyday objects, animals and humans is an endless array of magical forms waiting to be birthed by the grace of mathematics. I hope you enjoy these images as much as I do.




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