Katinka Matson Press

May 29, 2003

Scan Your Eyes Across This
By Dan Dubno

"Katinka Matson, an amazing digital artist, merging the technological with the botanical in a beautiful way. "

(CBS)  When Ray Kurzweil decided to help blind people read the printed word, he developed an amazing “Reading Machine” and, as a consequence, the first flatbed scanner. Back in 1975, Kurzweil and his colleagues used this first CCD (or “Charge Coupled Device”) scanner with a modest 500 pixel sensor that moved back and forth across a page. In addition, Kurzweil’s team also developed the first OCR (or “Optical Character Recognition”) software that turned scanned letters into digitally recognizable text coupled with voice synthesis to read the words aloud.

Today, desktop scanners are used for a myriad of purposes beyond the original mission of aiding the visually impaired. Happily, the desktop scanner has become ubiquitous and, in celebration, let me share some modern variants and unusual ways people are using these powerful scanner tools. First, we’ll look at a reasonably priced scanner that does unreasonably great work. Then, a business-card scanner and software solution to help organize your drawer full of contacts. Plus a “pen” that scans and shares your chicken-scratch handwriting with your desktop. And, finally, a taste of the work of a marvelous artist, Katinka Matson, who has been using flatbed scanners to create art that marvelously fuses technology and nature...

Katinka Matson’s Scanner Art
Finally, about Katinka’s flowers! I hope you take a long look at our "photo" essay (really a "scanner" essay) of a few of Ms. Matson’s remarkable studies. (I regret that to publish her work on our website, we had to make dumbed-down petite versions.) When printed on large paper or shown, as they should also be, on high-definition television screens, Katinka’s scanned creations are towering, dense and richly hued. For several years, using the same digital flatbed scanners most of us simply copy documents with, this Manhattan-based artist unlocked the simple elegance of nature. Without cameras or special lenses, Katinka Matson captures the unfiltered raw vibrancy of lilies, tulips, and daisies. Closer to painting with nature than to containing and “capturing” it, Ms. Matson’swork is raw, striking, if not shocking. There is honest power in this fusion of technology with n ature and it’s made possible by an inkjet printer and a humble scanner.

See CBS News Video & "Photo Essay" on Katinka Matson's Art

go to ongoing discussion of
scanner photography on edge.org


"One of the reasons—besides sheer artistry—that Katinka Matson's work resonates so strongly with us is that is that the insect-like vision that results from scanning direct-to-CCD runs so much deeper in us than vision as processed through a lens. By removing the lens, Katinka's work bypasses an entire stack of added layers and takes us back to when we saw more by looking at less." — George Dyson

"On the cognitive level, new perceptual ways of looking at things can provide categorization challenges." — William H. Calvin

"...it's worth noting that a photographic technique—photogravure—which produces similar results to the flat bed scanner was in use more than a hundred years ago, and was exploited to remarkable effect for photographing plants by Karl Blossfeldt...The parallels to Katinka's pictures are striking." — Nicholas Humphrey

"Cezanne, too, in his attempts to re-create ways of looking at landscapes and still-lifes, was re-exploring the persepectives of pre-Renaissance painting, before people became hooked on what has become academic perspective; and he too (being an intellectual) felt that the camera-like view of the world was in some ways a lie, even though it was so 'logical'; that in truth, the brain reconstructs its picture of the world from disparate data."
— Colin Tudge

Contributors: George Dyson, William Calvin, Nicholas Humphrey, Colin Tudge

Scanner Photography

By Paul Tough

December 15, 2002

"As the moving lens slides along the surface of one of Matson's tulips, it is able to view the flower from all sides; her floral pictures are so intense that looking at them, you almost get the feeling that you are able to peer around the flowers themselves. Another advantage: the distortion that a single lens inevitably creates disappears—details at the corners of these pictures are as sharp and clear as those at the center." [continue...]

17.12.02 Flowers, phtographic art with the scanner,

"Is there such a thing as an aesthetics of the digital tool, whether hardware or software? Often the answer is affirmative, as when one analyzes the work of Katinka Matson, American artist, who has succeeded in extracting a full poetics from the skilful use of the scanner. Her floral compositions, visible on the site at a decent resolution, show not only petals, stems and pistils but the rhythm and depth that they can express if arranged in a certain position, revealing an identity unsuspected to a naturalistic approach.

"The main difference with photographic equipment in fact is also in the lighting of the subjects and in the darkness that shades their background, a darkness given by the infinite nothingness (void) that separates the respective parts to the glass more distant (further) from the cover used in order not to disperse the light. On the other hand, the sensitivity of color and details pick up spectacular, small framed details from the window that the fluttering eye of the computer (fluttering computer eye) imposes as a bidimensional limit to a very organic magnificence."

[click here for original Italian version]


Copyright © 2003 by Katinka Matson