September 13, 2012

The beauty of repetition

Mark Cohen's 'Up Close' runs through Sept. 16


---- — PLATTSBURGH — Dr. Mark Nathan Cohen’s artistic eye is drawn to patterns, natural and man-made.

He began this photographic journey in 1996, and the results can be viewed in “Up Close: Nature Photography by Mark Cohen” in the Burke Gallery of the Plattsburgh State Art Museum.

“I take pieces of nature, and I blow them way up,” said Cohen, who is a SUNY university distinguished professor of anthropology and distinguished teacher professor of anthropology.

He takes a lot of images on his cement ramp at his lakeside home. Throughout the seasons, Cohen has found an interesting play of color and textures.

“In some, you can see the patterns of the objects themselves. In some cases, you can’t tell what it is.

“There is a lot of Lake Champlain at various times of the day. A lot are about where the cement ramp meets the lake because there are often great color contrasts there.”

Cohen began his artist’s way at age 6 with a Brownie. He began more serious study in high school, when color film had an ASA of 8 and black-and-w

hite film had an ASA of 80.

He received an A.B. from Harvard College and a Ph.D. in anthropology from Columbia University.

He started shooting archaeological sites while at Harvard.

“Up Close” images range from ice crystals and palm fronds to water lilies shot with a Nikon D50 and D80 with a variety of lenses.

Subject matter include dying pine trees, a tortoise shell and icy leaves.

He captures the contrast of lichen and a faint rose-hued fresco on a 12th-century Irish church ruin.

“What got me back into this were zoom lenses,” Cohen said. “I got tired of carrying a lot of lenses and changing them.”

His load was reduced to two zoom lenses that covered from 28 mm to 500 mm.

“Last year, I switched to a top-of-the-line Canon

point-and-shoot. I didn’t want to carry the big one anymore.

“I wasn’t satisfied with the images, so I started carrying the big one again.”

The exhibition includes three books of images: “Cultural Objects,” “The Beauty of Machines” and “Untitled.”

One image is Roman-armor rivets he saw in an English castle. Another is of a sword hilt, a studded door, a vaulted castle hall and incense sticks.

“It’s mostly an array of things I did in Britain, almost entirely machines,” Cohen said.

“The books are all open to eye-catching pictures. People


uld see them.”

Email Robin Caudell:

IF YOU GO WHAT: "Up Close: The Nature Photography of Mark Cohen. WHEN: Through Sept. 16. WHERE: Plattsburgh State Art Museum. HOURS: Noon to 4 p.m daily. PHONE: 564-2474.