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)
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)