In a series titled Light Rorschach, photographer Nicolas Rivals paints with light in dark spaces. Using a torch light and a camera with a long exposure, the artist draws and contours an arresting image. When I look at these photographs, I instantly see a face. But, Rorschach can refer to a couple of things. There is the Rorschach inkblot test, which is a psychological test. Additionally, a character, the anti-hero in the graphic novel Watchman has the same name. Knowing this and studying Rival’s work, his interpretation seems to be a combination of the two influences.
According to his website, Rival wants us to question the reality of the photographs. Could these things possibly exist? And, if they do, what are they? Rival insinuates that the beings in in Light Rorschach exist, referring to subjects as masks, meaning that they have some sort of identity. And, they observing us as we look at them. He writes:
…turns observer and observed through the eyes of spirited but ultimately see some of your own personality and therefore yourself. Cross between the work and the viewer as an introspection looks these masks seem to shout.
“Tell me what you see and I’ll tell you who you are.”
If the eyes are the window to the soul, then the soul of these light masks are serious and demand your attention. The lines of the painted light frame the neon blue, red, and green discs.They definitely aren’t human, and seem like they belong in a sci-fi story.
Tokujin Yoshioka is one of the more famous contemporary artists today, even if his website’s bio modestly (or jokingly) claims “His works, which transcend the boundaries of product design, architecture, and exhibition installation, are highly evaluated also as art.” His current career retrospective at Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo is titled Tokujin Yoshioka_Crystallize, a play on both the artist’s tendency to utilize both light and crystals in his work, as well as the idea of the alternate definition of crystallizing, meaning to give form to.
The exhibition, which is Yoshioka’s largest solo show to date, consists of well-known and previously un-shown pieces, though certainly centers around the immersive sculptural installation, Rainbow Church (pictured above). The installation is forty feet tall and consists of 500 light-refracting crystal prisms which project rainbow hues in the gallery space.
In a description of the piece for Fast Company, Margaret Rhodes describes the work, “The spare aesthetic doesn’t make it easily apparent, but Rainbow Church is influenced by an experience from his early 20s, when he visited Henri Matisse’s Rosaire Chapel in Vence, France. “I had a mysterious experience of being filled with overwhelming light and vibrant colors,” the artist says in a press release. “A dream to build architecture like this chapel came up to me strongly.” In a departure from the tangible materials he’s used in the past–foil for chairs, feathers for a snow-themed art installation–he’s building with light, the most ephemeral material of all.”
Other works also utilize the ethereal qualities of refraction, such as Ray of Light (below) also emits a rainbow glow, this time via a transparent crystal structure. The gallery walls are again activated by the light, as the gallery space is changed by the sculpture itself. (via designboom and fast company design)
Text art seems to be popping up everywhere these days in a multitude of diverse forms, although the use of text in art is inarguably not a new movement. However, when it comes to using words in visual art, several artists of different ages and sub-genres have found ways to burn their words into our brains. The pieces featured here have real stay-power. Whether the artist employs a blinking pattern between words, such as Bruce Nauman does, or draws rawly from their cultural background and related personal experience, such as Glenn Ligon and Patrick Martinez, these works deliver a very contemporary message. With simple language, and a sometimes poetic-sometimes brash- sense of honesty, these neon text-based works transcend many other works of text based art made today. Artists featured here include: Bruce Nauman, Patrick Martinez, Tracey Emin, Jill Magid, Glenn Ligon, Robert Montgomery and Jung Lee. The works speak for themselves- yet we encourage you to read between the lines.
Uta Barth uses photography to capture her own personal dreamy moments with light, and in doing so, exposes its environmental power over our solitude and romance . . . or romance with solitude.
As a viewer, I find myself drawn to the window, the curtain, and the wall in each piece, not only because it’s illuminated accordingly with sharp visceral attention, but also because I’m intrigued with how the mundane awakens. It feels childlike, reminiscient of a world without technology and other busy distractions. Ironically, or maybe not so, it also feels wise– close to death. There’s drama in the little details as the hand pulls back the curtain or the camera approaches the glow. It’s not so much about being a voyeur as it is about being here and being still– sharing the space where light opens into mood and reflection.
Of her work, Barth notes, “In most photographs the subject and the content are one and the same thing. My work is first and foremost about perception.”
To say these pieces are only about composition: space or pattern, would be to ignore the aura around the intention of these images, which are all shot inside her home– there’s a depth that resonates with an almost intrinsic documentary feeling. Unlike James Turrell, she does not appear to be mathematically immersing us in the immediate moment of light and awareness; instead, she’s quoting from the lightness in her own life, and we are privy enough to bear witness.
This short video by French artist Marc-Antoine Lucatelli features dancer Lucas Boirat as he uses his body to manipulate an image of shape-shifting geometric light that is sourced from his hands. The energy behind Boirat’s dancing paired with the abstract energy of light gives this video and these gifs the effect of a push and pull between Boirat and the light. Boirat seems to dance to effect the balance of power between light and shadow, with the light ultimately returning to dust at the hands of Boirat. These modern martial arts inspired dance moves paired with the dreamy experimental music of EdIT create an experience that feels at once primal and futuristic. I find myself completely engrossed with Lucatelli’s video and the way he beautifully captures this stunning power struggle. (via my modern met)
We are comparable to moths. This is what I think Bernardi Roig is doing with his mixed media pieces: allowing us to see our own attractions to the glowing lights brought forth with the Information Age. From computers to iPhones to tablets– our desire is instinctual or . . . mindlessly animalistic. I’m thinking here also about near death experiences: going towards the light. Remember that iconic scene from Poltergeist? Carol Ann. This too. It’s not about where our bodies gravitate or evolve, but how we speak to the light and what we leave behind as we travel towards it.
Blending the natural with the artificial world is Philip-Lorca diCorcia’s bread and butter in photography, and this applies not only to his staged documentary subject matter, but also his lighting. Whether it’s incorporating neon signage, cheesy ballroom glowing fixtures, another camera’s flash, or even a hidden light in the pavement, each technique helps shine a light on the ordinary as extraordinary from business men to hustlers– the majestic glow does not discriminate.
So, before the day gets too stressful, let’s relax with a little meditation on each powerful mesh of light. Feel free to share your own favorite lighting tips or tricks in the comments as well.
Night Stroll is a new digital short from Japanese filmmaker Tao Tajima. In the film, quick moving abstract light patterns pulse through otherwise quiet Tokyo streets. The light patterns are impressively realistic and almost resemble the light painting of still photography. Bright bursts of shapes are reflected in wet streets and cast shadows from behind trees and street corners. Though there is little information regarding the film’s production, Tajima seems to have skillfully created the light patterns digitally. He executes a simple idea very well – simple but realistic light dances as if it were alive and alone in the city. Check out the video to see what the GIFs only preview.