Image: Ryan and Trevor Oakes, Geneva Snowscape 1, 2014. Oil paint on aluminum, 9 1/2 x 10 x 1 inches.
Thursdays, 12-8 PM May 07, 2015 – Jun 25, 2015
Artists in Residence
The Drawing Center
35 Wooster Street, New York, NY, 10013
The Drawing Center has commissioned artists Ryan and Trevor Oakes to use the exhibition Portraits from the École des Beaux-Arts Paris as a platform to further explore the genre of portraiture. For eight consecutive Thursdays during May 7–June 25th, 2015 from 12–8 PM, the artists will be in residence in the Main Gallery. Using their unique drawing techniques, they will create a group “portrait” of our space and of visitors to our gallery. One can request an hour-long reservation for a portrait sitting by emailing email@example.com.
Central Garden at the Getty (in-process), 2014
Wednesday, December 17, 2014
Museum Lecture Hall, Getty Museum
1200 Getty Center Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90049
Three years after their first residency at the Getty, artists Ryan and Trevor Oakes have returned to create a counterpart to their detailed drawing of Robert Irwin’s Central Garden, which replicates with astonishing accuracy the features and perspective of the landscape. Pioneers of a method of precisely representing three-dimensional space using only the principles of binocular vision on a concave easel of their own design, the Oakes will present their drawing-in-progress alongside a discussion of the evolution of their artwork and the observations that led to the development of their technique.
Please drop by and say hello while we make a drawing of the Central Garden, through December 22.
November 8 – December 22, 2014
Tuesday – Sunday, 10:30 am-5:00 pm
Central Garden (under the bougainvillea umbrellas)
1200 Getty Center Dr, Los Angeles, CA 90049
Artists Ryan and Trevor Oakes bring their innovative approach to art and optics to the Getty Center’s Central Garden during a six-week drawing residency. Using a self-designed, concave easel, the Oakes brothers explore and exploit principles of binocular vision to create spherically curved drawings without the aid of lenses or other optical devices. Meet the artists, learn about their revolutionary techniques, and see their artwork evolve.
Time Passing Across Central Park (in process), detail
Curated by Lawrence Weschler
Conjured into being by Mark Mitton
May 10 – Sept 14, 2014
National Museum of Mathematics
11 East 26th Street, Manhattan
Opens May 10, 6:30-8:30 p.m.
Talks on May 27, June 17, and Sept 8
New York Times, April 28, 2014
by Jascha Hoffman
ART Unusual Vision and D.I.Y. Neuroscience
As children in the back seat, Trevor and Ryan Oakes noticed that when they focused on the horizon, bugs on the windshield seemed to split in two. Twenty-odd years later these identical twins are still investigating the intricacies of visual perception. This show pulls back the curtain on a decade of their optical obsession. To avoid the distortions that occur when the world is traced onto a flat canvas, the twins have built a concave metal easel that allows them to sketch directly onto the inside of a sphere. Rather than using lenses or mirrors to project an image onto canvas, as the Renaissance masters did, the twins have devised an ultra-low-tech method for sketching from life: they cross their eyes until an object floats onto their paper’s edge — and then they trace it. Visitors can marvel at the plaster helmet (dubbed an “optical cockpit” by the show’s curator, Lawrence Weschler) where the twins have spent hours with their eyes out of stereo alignment, reproducing skylines and courtyards into curved paper with a supernatural sense of depth and perspective. During the exhibition, the twins will haul their curved easel outside the museum to trace the Flatiron building with their cross-eyed technique. “Our subject matter is as much an eye looking as the thing being looked at,” said Trevor. Ryan added, “We’re dissecting what it feels like to have two eyes.”
House of the Nobleman is pleased to announce an exhibition of work by Ryan and Trevor Oakes.
Line of Sight features the Oakes twins’ obsessively handmade sculptures, experimental drawings and large-scale paintings, including selections from their critically acclaimed series Concave Drawings and Synchronized Field Paintings. The Oakes’ artworks reveal an intense focus and meditative approach, as each seemingly disparate body of work has in common the theory that by following consistent local rules complex global structures emerge.
Installation view at the North Dakota Museum of Art
The Oakes Twins
August 7 – September 30, 2012
North Dakota Museum of Art, Grand Forks, ND
Brothers and collaborators, Ryan and Trevor Oakes create detailed drawings which mimic both the details and the shape of human vision. Using a system of their own invention, the Oakes twins employ split focus and a curved easel to render illusionistic space in three dimensions on a two-dimensional surface. Sculptures in cardboard and early matchstick studies further articulate the artists’ conception of light rays as they intersect with the human eye to create images of space and volume.
The Twins drawing method has been described, by no less an authority than Columbia University’s perceptual historian Jonathan Crary, as one of the most original breakthroughs in the rendering of visual space since the Renaissance.
The Science of Art
Tuesday, September 11, 5:00 pm
Location: North Dakota Museum of Art, Grand Forks, ND
The North Dakota Museum of Art is sponsoring a one-day symposium The Science of Art held in conjunction with the Museum’s current exhibition by the Oakes Twins. Humanities star, Lawrence Weschler, will moderate a panel discussion with the Oakes Twins and introduce the keynote speaker, Charles Falco, an ocular scientist.
5 pm — Lawrence Weschler: Science and Art As Parallel and Divergent Ways of Knowing
Weschler is currently the director of the New York Institute for the Humanities at NYU and former staff writer for The New Yorker. He has authored such books as Mr. Wilson’s Cabinet of Wonder, Vermeer in Bosnia, and Seeing is Forgetting the Name of the Thing One Sees: A Life of Contemporary Artist Robert Irwin.
7 pm – The Oakes Twins: Double Vision, A Moderated Exhibition Talk with Lawrence Weschler
Lawrence Weschler will lead a discussion with twin brothers and artists Ryan and Trevor Oakes.
8 pm — Charles Falco: The Science of Optics: The History of Art
Falco, working in collaboration with artist David Hockney, is a pioneer in applying optical science analyses to understand how some Renaissance artists may have used optical devices as aids in their painting. Falco is Professor of Optical Sciences and Chair of Condensed Matter Physics at the University of Arizona. He has published more than 250 scientific manuscripts, co-edited two books and registered seven U.S. patents.
9 pm — Discussion session with Charles Falco, Lawrence Weschler, and Ryan and Trevor Oakes
The Science of Art symposium is supported by David Rognlie and Fern Letnes, the North Dakota Council on the Arts, and the Minnesota State Arts Board.
September 12 – October 6, 2012
Reception: Wednesday, September 12, 4pm – 7pm
Worth Ryder Art Gallery, UC Berkeley, 116 Kroeber Hall, Berkeley, CA 94720 Gallery Hours: Tuesday through Saturday, 12 – 5pm
Capturing Visual Consciousness: A Tale of Two Eyes, One Brain, One Hand, and One Pen
Monday, September 17, 7:30 pm
Location: Banatao Auditorium, Sutardja Dai Hall, UC Berkeley
The shape of one’s own protruding nose, and it’s subtle yet constant presence in one’s visual field, has a lot to do with the way visual art has “shaped up” over the centuries. Not only that, as one looks past their nose their two eyes view the world from the center points of two spheres. Furthermore, the automatic (and age old) cooperation of one’s two eyes, as they integrate their separate images inside the brain to construct three dimensional space, can be utilized in a yet uncharted manner to produce an optically accurate “scan” of one’s visual consciousness, output with a pen onto paper, without any mathematics, man-made lenses, or mirrors. The prehistoric biological technologies humans are born with (the eyes, the hand, and brain) are all that’s needed to record space exactly as humans see it, which is to say, to externalize a tangible cross section of the brain’s cognition of the electromagnetic field that hums before our eyes.
Alarmingly, this radically new approach to capturing visual consciousness has just been uncovered in the 21st century. Given that humans are born with the tools needed, why didn’t this discovery predate western optical studies dating back to before the Renaissance?
The Oakes brothers present an account of how they arrived at a new drawing method based on the principles above. Their talk will illuminate fundamental perceptual truths regarding the spherical nature of human vision, will re-examine the canon of western perspective, and will introduce the most naturalistic mode of drawing visual space to date.
EMPAC — Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center
at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute — Troy, NY
February 21 – June 31, 2012
Identical twins Ryan and Trevor Oakes engage in probing studies of visual perception and light through material investigations, discovering methods that constitute key advancements in the representation of visual reality. This winter they were in residence, creating a spherical drawing of our Concert Hall. This drawing will mark the first time the Oakes brothers re-envision the structure of their drawings to trace the perimeter of binocular vision. This new work will be shown as part of The Periphery of Perception — an exhibition looking at the development of the Oakes’ work over the past 10 years.
“Art is the playground of the physical world. Light is the medium of all visual art. Any piece of visual material—art, nature, literature—that might spark awe in the mind will come through the gates of the eyes.” —The Oakes Twins
Central Garden (under the bougainvillea umbrellas)
Drop by as twin artists Ryan and Trevor Oakes create a perspective drawing from the Getty Museum and gardens using an innovative concave easel, invented as part of their ongoing exploration of human vision and the experience of space and depth.
CUE Art Foundation
511 West 25th Street
New York, NY 10001
Sept 10th – Oct 29th, 2011
Tuesday – Saturday, 10am – 6pm
Closed on Sunday and Monday
Palazzo Strozzi Museum, Florence, Italy
Trevor and Ryan Oakes in residence at the museum
Oakes Twins at the Palazzo Strozzi, Florence, Italy, 2011
Throughout the month of June 2011, Florence, the cradle of the Renaissance and the home of Filippo Brunelleschi, the father of perspective, have hosted the twins Trevor and Ryan Oakes, two brilliant young American artists (they are 26 years old) who have followed similar lines of inquiry as the Florentine architect, and developed through continuous research and experimentation on human vision and perception of visual space, a new art form that explores the act of looking, in particular the use of both eyes simultaneously, and the interpretation of the three-dimensionality. During their stay in Florence Trevor and Ryan Oakes have explored the city and identify buildings, landscapes and views that could be a source of inspiration for their work. Palazzo Strozzi, its courtyard and its people, has been one of the places where they have further developed their revolutionary drawing technique.
A short film of the Palazzo Strozzi drawing in production, by David Battistella
Weschler’s Wonder Cabinet
Day-long forum hosted by Occidental College, LA
April 24, 2010
Ricky Jay, Walter Murch, David Wilson
and myriad others to headline event
Ryan + Trevor Oakes
Guitar Boy (Nancy Agabian and Ann Perich)
Weschler will present an ostentatiously interdisciplinary cavalcade of artists, performers, and scientists, who, by way of music, film and Powerpoint, will celebrate the odd, the marvelous, and the drop-jawed amazing.
“One of the things I’ve long been interested in is the notion of returning to a time when the sciences were at the heart of the humanities, when there was a marvelous, polymorphous, promiscuous interaction between scientists, artists, wizards and inventors,” says Weschler. “The division between arts and sciences is only 300 years old at most. Before that, people like Michelangelo and Leonardo were as much scientists as artists. There was no distinction between the different interests they were pursuing.”
“With the rise of the Internet and social media we may be returning to an era in which scientists and artists, historians and digital innovators have all kinds of things to say to each other,” he says. “The Wonder Cabinet aims to facilitate that conversation.”
New York-based artist Trevor Oakes shows audience members a concave illustration he and his identical twin brother, Ryan, created using a device to depict accurate and detailed re-presentations of visual space.
Hundreds of people filled Occidental’s Thorne Hall April 24 to explore the kinetic qualities of paper, how planetary orbits relate to the music of the spheres, why pickpockets and horned ladies were 18th century celebrities, and the role the nose plays in shaping visual perception at Lawrence Weschler’s day-long Wonder Cabinet.
O’Hare International Airport
Oakes sculpture on permanent display
An extended drawing of Anish Kapoor’s landmark sculpture Cloud Gate in Millennium Park is on display at O’Hare International Airport, in Terminal 2 just past security, north of the current Explore Chicago exhibit. Created by identical twin artists Ryan and Trevor Oakes, the piece, entitled “Have No Narrow Perspective,” was originally installed in Millennium Park in May.
Map to Oakes Sculpture in O'Hare International Airport
CHICAGO – The City of Chicago is proud to host new artwork, an extended drawing of Anish Kapoor’s landmark sculpture Cloud Gate in Millennium Park. Created by identical twin artists Ryan and Trevor Oakes, the piece, entitled “Have No Narrow Perspective,” was originally installed in Millennium Park in May. It is now on display at O’Hare International Airport, in Terminal 2 just past security, north of the current Explore Chicago exhibit.
The Oakes twins have collaborated on various visual explorations since the age of three. Now in their 20’s, they have developed a remarkable new method for tracing the world before them onto a curved surface, completely freehand and by eye alone. This method has been described by Columbia University’s perceptual historian Jonathan Crary as one of the most original breakthroughs in the rendering of visual space since the Renaissance.
Last summer the Oakes twins utilized that concave drawing method on the Cloud Gate sculpture and produced an enlarged version, engraved onto a six-by-six foot metal armature, with the explanation of their technique inscribed in the base.
“We are pleased to host this sculpture as the latest addition to our art and exhibits program,” said Rosemarie S. Andolino. “Thanks to our collaborative work with the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs, we can fulfill Mayor Daley’s vision to introduce Chicago’s rich, diverse and expansive culture to visitors from around the world.”
Official Vernissage of a new public sculpture Ryan and Trevor Oakes
In Millennium Park next to Anish Kapoor’s Cloud Gate sculpture Thursday May 14, 2009
Have No Narrow Perspectives, 2008-09, etched stainless steel and enamel, 8.5' x 6' x 4', Millennium Park, Chicago
Having collaborated on various visual explorations since the age of three, identical twin artists Ryan and Trevor Oakes (now in their late twenties) have developed a remarkable new method for tracing the world before them onto a curved surface, completely freehand and by eye alone. This method has been described, by no less an authority than Columbia University’s perceptual historian Jonathan Crary, as one of the most original breakthroughs in the rendering of visual space since the Renaissance. Last summer the Oakes Brothers were prominently seen deploying that method across an extended drawing of Anish Kapoor’s landmark sculpture Cloud Gate. They subsequently took that concave drawing and produced an enlarged version, engraved onto a six-by-six foot metal armature, which they are currently displaying right there along side “the Bean” in Millennium Park.
On Thursday May 14th, from 5 – 8pm, Millennium Park, and the Department of Cultural Affairs in association with the Chicago Humanities Festival (which originally occasioned the Twin’s presence in Chicago, along with the Spertus Institute), will host the Oakes Twins as they officially present their first public sculpture on site there by the Bean. They will be joined, among others, by Lawrence Weschler, the artistic director of the Chicago Humanities Festival, whose essay about the Twins and their method is featured in the current issue of the Virginia Quarterly Review
Ground-breaking artists Ryan and Trevor Oakes in residence at The Field Museum
December 21 – March 29, 2009
Oakes Brothers concave easel - the Twins will be in residence at the Field Museum during March, 2009
See artists Ryan and Trevor Oakes in action at The Field! The Oakes brothers have devised a radically new way of drawing that allows the artist to “trace” reality. Their discoveries have been called “some of the most original breakthroughs in the rendering of visual space since the Renaissance.”
The Oakes brothers will be on-site to create an intricate drawing of Stanley Field Hall, the Museum’s great main hall. Learn about their revolutionary techniques in recording human optical perception, and watch their artwork take shape.
Oakes Spherical Drawing of Stanly Field Hall
Artists and twin brothers Ryan and Trevor Oakes created this view of Stanley Field Hall using a revolutionary drawing technique they invented together.
Their technique relies on human vision being formed by two eyes merging two images in the brain. Using a special easel with a concave surface, plus a headset to keep the artist’s head exactly in place, Trevor Oakes simultaneously viewed the paper in the foreground with one eye and the hall in the background with the other. This action formed a “ghost image” of the hall over the paper. The hall was then traced onto strips of paper inside the easel resulting in the drawing you see now.
To see a large sculpture based on a drawing the Oakes brothers created in Chicago’s Millennium Park, visit terminal 2 of O’Hare Airport.
Seminal Notions: The Idea and Practice of Perspective
Chicago Humanities Festival
Hosted by the Spertus Museum
November 21, 2009
Surely one of the singular achievements of Renaissance and post-Renaissance Western art and technology was the conquest, articulation, and deployment of notions of visual perspective. How has perspective continued to evolve?
Panelists Jonathan Crary, Ryan Oakes, and Trevor Oakes discuss the idea of perspective and the multiple ways of viewing the physical world. They explain perspective in artworks, both recent and historical, as well as a new way of drawing. Lawrence Weschler moderates.
Double | Vision
Spertus Museum, Chicago October 29 – December 14, 2008
In conjunction with the Chicago Humanities Festival, Spertus hosted an exhibition by New York-based artists and identical twins Trevor and Ryan Oakes, who invented a method to render, by hand, an accurate camera-obscura style tracing of the world onto a curved surface. The exhibition highlighted drawings, made this summer for this project, of Chicago points of interest. These included the award-winning new Spertus building, Anish Kapoor’s Cloud Gate (pictured right) and the Frank Gehry-designed Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park, vistas of the Chicago River, historic Michigan Avenue architecture, and more.
Double Vision was displayed in the Spertus Museum during the Chicago Humanities Festival and was the exclusive showcase for not only the Chicago drawings but also a series of early sculptures about light and vision that lead up to the conception of this revolutionary idea.
Ryan and Trevor Oakes graduated from The Cooper Union School of Art in 2004. Their work is characterized by an in-depth investigation of light, vision, and the interplay between the visual cortex and the human retina.
Trevor Oakes drawing New York City on the inner surface of a sphere from the top of the Chrylser Building.
The Institute For Figuring Announces a world premier event
At Machine Project
Seeing Anew A lecture by Trevor and Ryan Oakes
Sunday, June 24 @ 7pm
Machine Project 1200 D North Alvarado
Los Angeles, CA 90026
It is hard to believe there is anything new to be discovered about perspective drawing. But in 2004 twin artists Trevor and Ryan Oakes made a startling discovery about how to render perspectival images on the inner surface on a sphere. Their discovery is all the more intriguing in the light of recent controversy surrounding David Hockney’s thesis about the use of spherical lenses in the making of perspective drawings in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.
In their first public talk the Oakes will discuss their perspectival research and demonstrate their unique spherical rendering technique using a specially designed stand and an innovative concept of “concave paper”. The lecture will include an historical account of other optical tools used to depict three-dimensional space – including the concave mirror-lens, the camera obscura, and the camera lucida. These prior techniques all involved optical equipment that in some sense controlled or bent the flow of light; the Oakes’ method uses only pen and paper – but here it is the paper rather than the light that is bent.
Trevor and Ryan Oakes are visual artists in New York City. Their work is characterized by an in-depth investigation of light, vision, and the interplay between the visual cortex and the human retina . Ryan and Trevor graduated from The Cooper Union School of Art in 2004.