Photography - Stuart Allen
Stuart Allen is an artist whose work deals with fundamental elements of perception such as light, time, gravity and space. He has shown photographs, kites and sculpture in galleries and museums throughout the U.S. and abroad. His work is found in many private and public collections including the Tokyo Kite Museum, the Crocker Art Museum, the DiRosa Art Preserve, UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, and U.S. Embassy collections in Canada, Bulgaria, Kazakhstan, and the Republic of Georgia. Allen has completed permanent public art commissions for the U.S. Embassy in Ottawa, Canada and the Police Headquarters building in Davis, CA. His work has been published in a variety of books and journals including: Picturing California’s Other Landscape: the Great Central Valley, Terra Nova: Nature and Culture, You Are Here: the Journal of Creative Geography, Zyzzyva and Artweek. Allen has lectured or served as a visiting artist at many fine institutions including the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Weisman Art Museum, the Atlantic Center for the Arts, and a number of university art departments nationwide. Allen studied architecture at Kansas University and graduated from the photography and video department of the Kansas City Art Institute in 1994. He lives in San Antonio, Texas with his wife Kelly Lyons, their daughter Aidan and son Vincent. Allen is represented by the following galleries: PDNB, Dallas, TX; JayJay, Sacramento, CA; Jan Manton Art, Brisbane, Australia; Haw Contemporary, Kansas City, MO.
Stuart Allen, artist, photographer, sculptor, public art, kite, kite maker, art consultant, Jayjay, haw contemporary, pdnb gallery, science and art
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Pixel Clouds

The Pixel Cloud drawings are 3 dimensional graphs of each unique pixel color in a digital photograph. Using statistical software, I export the red, green and blue values of every pixel in a photograph to a data file. This dataset is reduced to a set of unique color occurrences, and these pixels are plotted in 3D space along 256-step red, green and blue axes. Dotted gray lines define the plot boundaries. I rotate the Pixel Cloud about its three axes to find the most compelling view. The work’s title describes the content of the source photograph and the number of unique pixel colors.

The source photographs for the Pixel Clouds are images of food. The color of the food on our plates or in our glasses deeply influences our experience of flavor. The notion that we first “eat with our eyes” is a common theme in food-based experimental psychology, commonly labeled “gastrophysics.” Researchers have famously served wine tasters a white wine dyed red, and the manipulated color significantly altered the taster’s experience of flavor; a significant majority identified the dyed white wine as a red (reference). Other experiments suggest that our current foodie culture and the barrage of ‘food porn’ photography found in the media may fuel the obesity crisis (reference).

The color of food sets our expectations and drives our appetites. Humans tend to avoid blue foods due to the color’s association with spoiled and/or poisonous sources. We typically perceive green foods as healthy. The color red is often cited as an appetite stimulant, thus the preponderance of red restaurant logos (reference).

The relationship between color and flavor is complex and nuanced. Beet red sets our expectations for deep, earthy flavor, while strawberry red signals sweetness. When the pictorial information has been removed, only the color signal remains. The Pixel Clouds reside in this nuanced space.

Stuart Allen, 2021
Data science by Dr. Jennifer Rudgers


Glass is a series of macro photographs of palm-sized pyrex objects made by San Antonio artist Justin Parr. Through the combined lenses of the camera and these glass objects we see an interpretation of the landscape. The features of the land, though slightly visible in some images, are largely lost to the refractions and reflections of light imposed by the glass. We are left with traces of information, mostly color – subtle suggestions of place and time.


A continuation of the Low Resolution series, produced for an exhibition at the Wichita Art Museum in 2015.

From the Curator’s Statement. Courtesy of the Wichita Art Museum.

Wichita-born artist Stuart Allen tests the boundaries of landscape imagery in this series of photographs. Each artwork is a distilled from a digitally scanned photograph of Kansas. “The source images are reminders of my youth in Wichita and the open landscapes of Kansas: throwing snowballs with my brother in our front yard, sailing on Cheney Lake, driving out west during college road trips,” Allen notes.

Cropped and magnified to reveal only a few pixels from the original scan, the artist strives to maintain a sense of the original photograph. “While a nine-pixel photograph may render a decidedly abstract version of its subject, it remains a photograph: a record of light, in one place, in one time,” Allen states.

The resulting images are beautiful chromatic compositions with gentle color shifts that poetically invoke not just the moment of the image’s capture but also the distinctive landscape of the Midwest. “Though they no longer refer to the pictorial character of landscape,” the artist comments, “they do speak to the specific color and quality of light present in one moment, in one particular place on Earth.”


For more information about this series click here for an artist’s statement.

Soap Bubbles

This series exploits an optical phenomenon that occurs when visible light is distorted by the thin film membrane of a soap bubble. Soap bubbles deconstruct daylight, amplifying some wavelengths while canceling others out, creating an array of color that speaks to the complexity and mutability of what we see as ‘white’ light.

For more information about this series please click here for an artist’s statement.

Low Resolution Kites

Low Resolution Kites, 2010
pigment prints on Tyvek, bamboo, string, 2010
dimensions – square: 35″ x 25″, tall: 84″ x  19″

from the Artist Statement:

Regardless of its size in the studio or on the ground, any kite will be eaten up by the enormity of the sky. It’s humbling to spend days or months working on a large piece, then send it aloft and watch it sink into the vastness of the sky. Kites are designed to recede in space – to travel away from the viewer. I am interested in playing with that change in viewing distance. Up close, the heavily pixilated imagery is an abstraction. Viewed from a distance the pixels resolve into a recognizable image.

Color Shift

Three colors are extracted from a digital photograph. The colors are used to construct a pigment print made up of thin vertical lines in a repeating pattern. The print is placed behind a 1/4″ thick piece of architectural glass with a ceramic-frit line pattern on the front. Due to the very precise relationship between the lines in the print and the line pattern of the glass, the works appear to change color as the viewer moves relative to the piece. The location of the original photograph and the source of the colors are indicated in small text along the bottom of the print.

Though the panels themselves are static, the movement of the viewer initiates a dynamic, animated effect. Without movement they are fields of color. With movement, time and space are activated to create a more complex engagement.


An extension of the Baja series, all images are pixels extracted from the sky section of photographs taken in different parts of the world. The origin of the original photograph is indicated in small text along the bottom of the print.

Light Maps

The changing color of daylight is recorded at different intervals of time using a piece of white sailcloth attached to a camera lens. The resulting photographs are cropped to vertical strips, then assembled to make one print; a portrait of the light in one place, in one timeframe.

At the base of each strip, small numbers indicate the time of day for a given frame. Sunrise and sunset times are marked when relevant. Titles indicate the location in longitude / latitude coordinates.

Excerpt from a review by Wendy Atwell, 2007.

In the Light Maps series, [Allen] clips a screen, made of the same white sailcloth he uses for his kites, onto his camera. With the camera’s automatic light-balancing sensor disabled, Allen photographs light from a single point, identified in the works’ titles by each site’s geographic coordinates.Sunset – One Photograph Every Two Minutes / 29° 27’ 8” N ~ 98° 30’ 4” W / 03 – 16 – 2007 conveys a delightfully surprising variety of colors. Allen is intent on recording an unmediated and pure representation of color as created by the sun, intervening atmospheric particles and everything else that conspires to make the color of the day… [These works] felt like a gift, as if he had done me this great favor of caring enough to record a beauty that is always passing and ephemeral. As records of moments that technically cannot be observed by the human eye, the Light Maps works give the gift of awareness and prompt a desire to look more carefully.


All of the photographs is this series are small sets of pixels extracted from a single digital photograph, taken by the artist in Baja California, Mexico in 2003. Titles indicate the section of the original photograph from which the pixels are taken. Aside from a dramatic increase in scale, the pixels have not been modified or re-arranged.

For more information about this series click here for an artist’s statement.


Images in this series are pixels extracted from photographs of different parts of the human body: hair, skin, and most notably, eyes. The subject’s initials and the date are embedded in small text along the bottom of the image.