One of Barcelona's famous Antoni Gaudi buildings. One of Barcelona's famous Antoni Gaudi buildings. One of Barcelona's famous Antoni Gaudi buildings. (Photo: Eitan Vitkon)

Renowned artist uses mirrors, soap bubbles to create abstract photo art

Eitan Vitkon's new exhibit will make you feel like you're under water. And you won't want to come up for air.

Is that a real building or an illustration? Is the photographer under water? Is the building under water?

Am I under water?

You might have some questions after browsing through Eitan Vitkon's vast collection of photos. You might even think you're looking at something not of this planet, or century, or universe.

New York City. Part of Eitan Vitkon's Liquid Architecture photography collection. New York City. (Photo: Eitan Vitkon)

This parallel reality you're seeing is the world in the eyes of Vitkon, an Israel-born artist and photographer who now calls New York home – and takes his camera everywhere he goes. The 51-year-old has been shooting other-worldly perspectives of some of the best architecture in the world for more than 25 years.

The Twin Towers in New York, pre-9/11. Part of Eitan Vitkon's Liquid Architecture photography collection. The Twin Towers in New York, pre-9/11. (Photo: Eitan Vitkon)

And now, visitors can see his prolific portfolio in person, at a new exhibit at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel. There, he displays both his earliest and most recent works – the former being his Liquid Architecture collection, a series of photos "meant to show landmarks in a twisted way that will make the observer to question what he is looking at," Vitkon told From The Grapevine.

The photographs, he explained, are created with mirrors made of metallic foil or soap bubbles – two materials that, despite their “weakness,” manage to overpower the tall buildings and redesign them as something dynamic. He stages the mirrors in front of his subjects, and the rest is photographic gold.

A clock tower in New York. A clock tower in New York. (Photo: Eitan Vitkon)

In his most recent collection, Vitkon takes a bit of a departure, using precise timing to secure and situate moving waves in a series of ocean shots. The waves, he said, are "a place where movement is endless, a place that started long before I picked up my camera, and will last long after I will no longer be there."

wave photography by Eitan Vitkon As night falls, the sky reflected on the waves makes the horizon look almost other-worldly. (Photo: Eitan Vitkon)

"Together, the two series of photographs are a sort of reality check: We experience a growing doubt as to whether what we see is 'clear and understood,'" exhibit curator Yivsam Azgad said. "Stable buildings are swept off their foundations so that we can’t know where they will be a second from now; while the waves that we have understood to be a phenomenon of continual movement are shown to us as something that is surprisingly solid."

"The image is of a parallel reality that is changing and flowing, but definitely not benign," Azgad continued. This worldview is surprising in light of the fact that Vitkon is a trained architect – a field that aims to create a fixed, enduring reality."

surfers on waves If you look close enough, you can see surfers. (Photo: Eitan Vitkon)

And for Vitkon, this worldview exists every time he opens his door and goes outside – in his city, or any city. This drive has been with him from his early years in Israel, to his travels to the Far East to explore painting, his return to Tel Aviv to study architecture, his life as a New Yorker, and now as a temporary resident of Berlin. "As part of my education I got familiar with the art world and, slowly and gradually, I shifted from painting to photography," he told us.

Brooklyn Bridge. Is that a violin, or the Brooklyn Bridge? (Photo: Eitan Vitkon)

In the years since, Vitkon has felt most comfortable using his camera in a non-traditional way. "Instead of using the camera as a tool to capture reality, I use it as a brush in the hand of a painter."

Vitkon's exhibit, called "Blowing in the Wind," will show at Israel's Weizmann Institute until March 2019.

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