kaalam: light calligraphy

Exploring the gestures and movements of calligraphy, nantes-based artist kaalam (aka julien breton) has created a body of work that uses hand-held light and long-exposure photographic techniques to capture the transient form within a real setting. often utilizing urban or historical sites as his three-dimensional canvas, the self-taught artist creates his own latin-based alphabet that heavily draws from traditional arabic and eastern calligraphy. arresting and provocative, the floating light forms are not mere superimposed subjects but display a direct engagement with the surroundings.

the capturing process, which can take as long as ten minutes, requires a choreographed movement which kaalam practices before hand in heavy repetition. different colours of ‘ink’ is achieved through pigmented gelatin which is applied directly onto the lamps. none of the photographs are retouched or edited, illustrating the laborious process in a single shot.

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