One of the most integral aspects of photography is the utilization of light. For his series, “Visible Light,” photographer Alexander Harding uses this vital resource as his subject. Harding manipulates natural sunlight, refracting it to create ethereal spaces filled with the soft luminescence of the sun’s rays. Harding says,
Whether it is acknowledged or not, we all have a strong relationship with the sun. Its light enables our visual perception and at times, shapes our emotions. Although the sun affects how we feel, its light remains mysterious and ephemeral. We can feel it on our skin and in our eyes, but it seems intangible to us. We cannot hold or preserve it.
Through my work I explore the sun’s physical presence and quantitative character, attempting to give sunlight an environment to travel within and record its behaviors. I primarily use photography to make my work as its apparatus promotes a very critical and literal type of visual perception and it is processes are controlled by light itself.
Harding’s work asks viewers to consider the centrality and importance of sunlight, and to think of this primary energy source as an art object in and of itself. (via lens scratch)
British artist Bruce Munro is perhaps best known for his creation of large-scale installations that offer a great amount of experiential weight to viewers. Choosing materials which reflect, and shine light, a metaphor for the artist’s interests in literature, music and science. Often made of humble materials, Munro has often come back to the use of compact discs, a decision that the artist explains, “Initially I used discarded materials to save on costs. Soon material choices also became the subject matter of the installations,” he says of Light. “For me, there has to be a reason—however idiosyncratic—for everything I do and these days I am drawn more and more to the idea of creating an experience that is gentle on the landscape.”
Various projects of Munro’s use repurposed and recycled compact discs in massive quantities, covering hills, estate lawns and fields. In works such as CDSea, enormous fields of the collected discs have a natural element, in this case a meandering path carved through them. The path, which echoes landscape architecture and fung shui design, allows viewers to experience not only vistas of the shimmering surfaces, but also the now-highlighted beauty of the existing grass itself. Speaking of the installation and its process, Munro says “You never know how something will work out, but now I could not be happier. I’m so grateful to everyone who turned out to help. We had a magical weekend and CDSea looks amazing, like a giant painting on the grass” (via hi-fructose, designboom, inhabitant)
Caleb Charland (previously featured here and here) newest photography project features mesmerizing light displays using mostly fruit, a nail, copper wire, and the long exposure technique. These organic batteries produce enough of a current for Charland to capture the light’s illumination in these long exposure photographs.
“My current body of work, Back to Light, expands upon a classic grade school science project, the potato battery. By inserting a galvanized nail into one side of a potato and a copper wire in the other side a small electrical current is generated. The utter simplicity of this electrical phenomenon is endlessly fascinating for me. Many people have had the experience of drawing power from fruit in the classroom, and it never ceases to bring a smile to the face or a thought to the mind. This work speaks to a common curiosity we all have for how the world works as well as a global concern for the future of earth’s energy sources…my hope is that these photographs function as micro utopias by suggesting and illustrating the endless possibilities of alternative and sustainable energy production. The cycle that begins with the light of our closest star implanting organic materials with nutrients and energy, is re-routed in these images, Back to Light, illuminating earth once again.” (via this isn’t happiness)
Chinese artist Lu Xinjian has been inspired by maps and cities for years, often collected in his increasingly large-scale acrylic on canvas series City DNA. But his newest work City Light expands on these inspirations, taking the flat abstractions and mounting them onto the wall with neon.
Using Google Earth images of the artist’s current home, the sprawling metropolis of Shanghai, Xinjian renders the map loosely in his abstract style. The resulting plans are rendered in neon on a solid black background, and run on a flash program which controls the timing of each area’s lines being illuminated. Starting with a small, centrally-located blue square, the rest of the surrounding area follows, until the entire piece is lit. Representing the rapid growth of the modern metropolis, the network of neon light tubes takes the language of city communication and visually abstracts the idea of rapid expansion. (via alwaysinstudio and designboom)
Helsinki, Finland is already known for its beautiful landscapes, sonorous Baltic coastlines and for its focus on civic design (the city having been named the World Design Capital of 2012). To celebrate this honor, Helsinki tapped Madrid-based design firm Lighting Design Collective (LDC) to create a permanent urban art light piece.
Named for the repurposed oil silo, Silo 468 is a project for the cities residents to enjoy from the inside and out. The silo’s walls feature more than 2,000 perforated holes which echo ideas of a traditional lighthouse, displaying an incredible light show for Helsinki’s Kruunuvuorenranta district. While the coastline is illuminated by the modern lighthouse, the inside of Silo 468 offers a different, more intimate experience. Painted a deep, captivating red, there is an additional light show for citizens to enjoy.
The Director of LDC, Tapio Rosenius, fully explained the project. “At night 1250 white LED’s flicker and sway on the surface of the silo controlled by a bespoke software mimicking swarms of birds in flight – a reference to silo´s seaside location. The prevailing winds, well-known to those living in Helsinki, are used to trigger different light patterns in real time.
Anonymous Spanish art collective Luzinterruptus has installed their latest public interventionist project, “Consumerist Christmas Tree”, as part of Lumiere, a citywide celebration of light that takes place in Durham, England. To construct this 9 meter high tree, the group asked people to donate their plastic bags in exchange for cloth ones, resulting in a donation of around 4,000 bags. In addition to the tree, Luzinterruptus created strands of garland by installing lights in leftover bags and hanging them across streets. According to the artists, the tree “is an installation that will help to raise awareness of the excessive use of plastic bags and the consequences that this consumption has on the environment…We thought about a grand Christmas tree, built of the bags used during the period prior to Christmas, the dates in which their use dramatically increases.” (via unknown editors)
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)