Greetings, Earthlings...

Welcome to Beyond the Limits of Reason, the meeting point for all things Michael Doubrava.

Michael Doubrava profile

I was born on Earth during the second half of the twentieth century.

Untitled (San Lorenzo, New Mexico)

Untitled (San Lorenzo, New Mexico)
A metaphor for the conflict between rationality and emotion; betweeen Apollo and Dionysus; between the empirical and the supernatural; between stasis and revolution...

our motto and mission is to

tickle the idiot
rapture the faithful
pity all the ignorant and hateful

illuminate the enlightened
confound the intellectual
with life distilled flood memory's temple

November 2, 2017

Identical Twins (Fullerton Avenue Elevated Platform, Chicago), October 2017

I made the source photograph for this image while riding the Chicago Transit Authority's red line commuter train. As we rolled into the platform at Fullerton Avenue, I quickly made a few photographs, through the window, of the people waiting outside for the train doors to open.

The original image was simple to create, using a typical DSLR ("dx" format) and a 50mm lens. This 'source' image was duplicated four times, and then digitally manipulated in Photoshop, resulting in this final image.

Despite the mundane nature of the everyday moment which was initially recorded, this image illustrates the hazards of depending upon photography as a medium conveying empirical truth.

My original photograph of a De Paul University student waiting for a subway train has morphed into an image of a pair of identical twins who serve as gatekeepers of a private garden. The viewer can examine their features and sense that the twins have contrasting personalities.

October 15, 2017

The End of the World (Jerusalem), 2017

It was high noon, and the sun radiated glare and heat as I walked the perimeter of Jerusalem's walled Old City. I was dazzled by the intense light of August which reflected off the stone surfaces; I was intimidated by the sense of history and ancient time which emanated from these same stone blocks and buildings. It seemed as though different points in historical time were overlapping and converging, within this moment.

When I saw the dome of the Al-Aqsa mosque, I raised my camera. Using a wide-angle lens, I quickly made three photographs of sections of a corner of the ancient city wall; the mosque's dome was visible in the distance along the edge of the frame. Lowering the camera, I turned and retraced my steps, eager to get under some shade, and shelter from the sunlight. I gradually made my way back to more familiar surroundings.  It was a long, slow walk on a dry and dusty day.

A few weeks later I returned to these three separate, detail images.  I decided to stitch them together to form a single photograph, a vertical panorama, of this particular view of the wall. This single component, this new panorama, is the "building block" from which the rest of the image was constructed. After a few duplications and rotations, reversals and pairings, this composite image emerged.

This image reminds me of 19th century photographs by the likes of Maxime Du Camp or Gustave Le Gray, and the drawings of Piranesi. This is, certainly, a photograph made in Jerusalem; but it is also a representation of an Imaginary Jerusalem.  In this regard it follows in the great tradition of artists and pilgrims alike projecting preconceptions on the surface of this great city. The Temple Mount figures significantly in the endtime scenarios embraced by Abrahamic faiths, and this photograph resonates with those religions' scenarios of The End of the World, which are predicted to occur within this very cityscape.

October 3, 2017

The Poison Shop, October 2017


Riding public transportation at night in Chicago provides me with plenty of visual stimulation and subject matter. The cityscape reminds me of a stage set, and I am the sole member of the audience paying attention in the theater that is the #22 Clark Street bus. Each night as I return home, I photograph the passing scene through the bus window: I am a passenger, as well as an observer with a camera. The most common and mundane street scene transforms into a hallucinatory revelation when I engage in the art-making process: the result is a transformation of dreary expectations into conceptions "beyond the limits of reason".

In this case, I made two photographs within a few seconds, while the bus was momentarily delayed at an intersection. Because it was evening, requiring a long shutter speed, the camera's slightly wide-angle lens was placed directly against the window, to limit any unintentional camera movement (I never look through the camera itself when I make photographs this way). These two pictures were combined into one new image. This double-image was shortly thereafter duplicated, and I now had two identical double-images. The next step was to reverse the duplicate so that it was a mirror image of the first double-image. Finally, both images were then seamlessly joined to each other, and the resulting file was "flattened" in Photoshop, resulting in this final image.

It became a photograph of a shop selling poison, flowers, and poisoned flowers; I would exercise caution before entering, no matter how inviting it seems. 

September 8, 2017

Inside the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, Jerusalem, August 2017

This image is the result of a double-exposure which was duplicated, reversed, and placed next to the original double-exposure. The image was then "flattened" in Photoshop, creating a new "original". When I made the initial image(s) during my visit to the Church, I was irritated because I could not photographically capture the entire dome within a single image; the space is simply too confining. I realized at the time of the initial image-recording that I would eventually have to somehow digitally create a rendering which would better describe the experience of being in this amazing place. While this final image does not absolutely accurately depict the architecture as it exists to the average tourist or pilgrim, it does reflect the feeling of awe and wonder I felt while standing under the ancient oculus.

January 22, 2016

The Masque of the Red Death (Single Room Occupancy, Chicago, November 2015)

Three exposures were combined in Photoshop to make this panoramic photograph. This is the interior of a rented room near California and Western Avenues, Logan Square, Chicago. The last night of November, 2015. From Edgar Allan Poe's The Masque of the Red Death:"... But to the chamber which lies most westwardly of the seven, there are now none of the maskers who venture; for the night is waning away; and there flows a ruddier light through the blood-colored panes; and the blackness of the sable drapery appals; and to him whose foot falls upon the sable carpet, there comes from the near clock of ebony a muffled peal more solemnly emphatic than any which reaches their ears who indulge in the more remote gaieties of the other apartments..."

March 15, 2013

Microflora? Mechanical Flowerhead? New work from the last weeks......

A composite of four digital files, each scanned from the same analog negative, originally exposed using a pinhole lens and a film-based (120 format) camera. Or, in an alternative reality, an actual x-ray of the face of a mechanical flowerhead.

Picket Fence through a Pinhole






December 11, 2012

jimmydumps/sunnyjimmy: Faith in the Creative Project!

James Moeller describes his response upon seeing this "flowerbolt" image on his excellent blog jimmydumps/sunnyjimmy: Faith in the Creative Project!: His writing is always both inspired and inspiring. Click on the highlighted link to read the article.

December 4, 2012

New Flowerbolt Image, with Digital "Split-Tone" applied.

Originally created using a roll-fim camera and black-and white film, this image was 'finished' digitally with a split-tone effect. The grayscale file was first converted to an RGB file in Photoshop, and then three individual color- adjustment layers were added, each with a different hue and saturation level. These three layers were then selectively erased, "per flower", to arrive at the desired degree of tone and color. The final result is similiar to the traditional analog photographic printing technique of placing the print in a tray containing a chemical solution of selenium or sepia-toner.

February 29, 2012

jimmydumps/sunnyjimmy: Mysterious Gothic Twins

jimmydumps/sunnyjimmy: Mysterious Gothic Twins: I don't know why, when I saw this mysterious, gothic-like twinning of the lead singer of whitewolfsonicprincess... I thought of this fr...

November 6, 2011

Final Version of the first Creation of Life nears completion!

At long last, this first image is almost finished. This is an image showing the result of the alchemical production of an X chromosome, created from elements. The image appears as viewed through the dust-coated lens of an ancient microscope. This image will be complemented with a mate, in the form of a Y chromosome.

September 9, 2011

Another look at the work-in-progress

A few changes have been made since the last version. For instance, a layer of vegetation has been added. Next, background layer was duplicated, and then horizontally reversed, to achieve a more symmetrical composition.This duplicate layer was then selectively erased as needed before flattening.

August 22, 2011

Detail of New Work-in-Progress: Digital Photocollage


This is a work-in-progress that has been long in the planning but I only recently began to actually compose. It is a collage made from scans of film, all of which was photographed using a pinhole camera. Most of the negatives were double or triple- or quadruple exposed, but not all of them. The scans are then of course dragged individually onto a new common file, and recomposed.Of course, you can see the previous image below and note a single component of the above composite image.

August 8, 2011

New Work, July 2011

This is a close-up, triple (at least) exposure still-life of some objects I found in Rogers Park, Chicago, in my daylight studio. They were made using a cheap pinhole disc (replacing the multiple-thousand dollar glass lens produced in the 1980's or 1990's)on a silver-gelatine-consuming, shadow-analogue-recording dark-box once considered a standard in the professional photography industry (i.e. a film camera), way back in the end decade-and-a-half of the last century.

July 14, 2011

New Work, May 2011

This image was made in my home last May. More from the same series can be found below.

Looking for more?

You can access more imagery by clicking on the phrase above which says"older posts". Many additional works can be viewed dating back to the earliest posts which initiated this blog.