Light Painting Photography

A couple of months ago, I submitted a proposal to CAA for their annual conference. Although my proposal wasn't chosen, I am still curious to answer and explore the questions that arise in the segment below. The history of light painting is very brief. The use of the medium begins in the late 1800’s as a way to study movement, is then picked up by photographers who experiment with the early inventions of flash photography and time exposure, and is most recently used in a very commercial fashion. The light painting that we see so widely produced today, doesn't remind us of, or comment on the central ideas of the Light and Space Movement, or any art movement quite honestly. The work being made isn’t allowing for any progressive debate of art. Perhaps I am biased, but I have not come across an artist that has taken this medium of light painting and pushed the boundaries with it. Alas, below is what I submitted to CAA, and will be continuing to work on for my own personal research.


Proposal

Light painting, or light drawing, is the act of manually moving an artificial light source while a camera records the process through time-exposure, resulting in a still photograph. The first experimental uses of light painting date back to 1889, but it wasn’t until 1935 that it was first used as an artistic practice by Man Ray, in his series, “Space Writing”. Self-taught photographer, Gjon Mili, experimented with the technique through photo journalism in 1949, and that same year, introduced the process to Picasso who became so intrigued he created a series of light drawings titled, “Space Drawings”, later exhibited at MoMA in 1950.

Following this notable early timeline, only about a dozen significant artists throughout history have explored the medium in their oeuvre with only one known artist dedicating their entire body of work to light painting photography, Vicki DaSilva. This dedication has led DaSilva to play with the relationship between time, movement, and light, allowing for the emergence of various concepts such as the physicality of light, the shaping of spaces and perception, the temporality of a work, the performative aspect, and the audience as random participant.

As a technique where these different theories related to light, photography, space, time, and performance arise, I question and aim to examine why so few artists have pushed the boundaries with this specific medium. Why hasn’t light painting photography been explored past playful experimentation and public commercial use? How has the work of Vicki DaSilva influenced and contributed to both conceptual and contemporary photography?

Back to Nature: Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia

This is one of my most favorite works by Vicki. Firstly, because of the location. The town of Inverness located on Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia resonates with me in major way, as I view it as my second home, where I spent summers since the age of 5 and where we have a vacation house. Secondly because of my new found love for meditation and returning to nature every time I visit Inverness.

'Lose your mind' and 'Come back' refer to the process in meditation when you are sitting still, breathing, and trying to focus your mind on just your breath. When your mind starts to wander and you notice it wandering, you slowly bring it back. In addition to this, these two phrases also refer back to this specific location, 'Lose your mind' is written at the beach near the entrance of the path through the woods. 'Come back' is bringing you back up through the ever changing woods and to the house. 

Learning to Meditate, 2015

Learning to Meditate, 2015

Tour Paris 13

Thinking back to Vicki's trip to Paris in October, 2013 and the work she made at Tour Paris 13, an iconic graffiti mecca in Paris that was set to be demolished. Her visit sparked a collaboration with light graffiti artist, Marko 93 and the two spent a night in the building writing with light in various rooms filled with graffiti. I always find collabs to pretty interesting as many times, the artists don't discuss any plan, they just get to the site and start making work off of feeling and vibes in the space. This doesn't mean that collabs always work and I think many times artists are reluctant to collaborate because of the spontaneity that needs to happen for a successful shoot. 

I find that this one night collab worked. Vicki's arabesque writing has a nice contrast to Marko's harsh quick lines. They both take over the entire space and play around with different perspectives and forms of writing, which ads a nice depth and you can really feel the raw space of the Tour Paris 13 building. 

Collab with Marko 93 #1, 2013 at Tour Paris 13

Collab with Marko 93 #1, 2013 at Tour Paris 13

Collab with Marko 93 #2, 2013 at Tour Paris 13

Collab with Marko 93 #2, 2013 at Tour Paris 13

Collab with Marko 93 #3, 2013 at Tour Paris 13

Collab with Marko 93 #3, 2013 at Tour Paris 13

Collab with Marko 93 #4, 2013 at Tour Paris 13

Collab with Marko 93 #4, 2013 at Tour Paris 13

Collab with Marko 93 #5, 2013 at Tour Paris 13

Collab with Marko 93 #5, 2013 at Tour Paris 13

Collab with Marko 93 #6, 2013 at Tour Paris 13

Collab with Marko 93 #6, 2013 at Tour Paris 13

Collab with Marko 93 #7, 2013 at Tour Paris 13

Collab with Marko 93 #7, 2013 at Tour Paris 13


In addition to this collab, Vicki went to Tour Paris 13 on the night before the demolition and made a few works outside of the building. These pieces made outside of the building were done while hundreds of people gathered outside & inside the building for its final hours. The building represented a space that welcomed graffiti and street artists, who are usually banned from outdoor public spaces and have to turn to illegal sites, making work wherever they get the chance. This welcoming allowed for artists to have free range and make work without fearing arrest. 


Tour Paris 13: FOY, 2013

Tour Paris 13: FOY, 2013

Tour Paris 13: ce moment, 2013

Tour Paris 13: ce moment, 2013

Tour Paris 13: FOY #2, 2013

Tour Paris 13: FOY #2, 2013

Tour Paris 13, 2013

Tour Paris 13, 2013

Turn the Lights Back on in Syria

Shining a light for OXFAM London to Act#WithSyria https://withsyria.com/ for the 4th tragic anniversary of the Syrian crisis.

Single frame time exposure light painting & light graffiti photograph created in London on the roof of the Trafalgar Hotel. Participants included Syrian activists Mustafa Haid, Husam Helmi, Reem Al Assil & children, Ghais Aljundi, Dr. Muhammad Najjar, Franca Fiabane, Rola Hallam, Sinan Al Hawat, Massoud Kasso, celebrities Christopher Eccleston, Nick Moran, Matt Berry, Sienna Guillory & Enzo Cilenti.


Act#withSyria, 2015

Act#withSyria, 2015

Kompromat (Russian: компромат; "compromising material")

Kompromat, 2017

Kompromat, 2017

Back in January of 2017, just two months into Trump's presidency, Buzzfeed published an article with a link to the full dossier, that makes allegations of contact between Trump aides and Russian operatives as well as claims of sexual acts performed in Moscow documented by the Russians. We would consider this blackmail in America, but in Russian politics, this is known as kompromat

Kompromat (Russian: компромат, short for компрометирующий материал, literally "compromising material") materials about a politician or public figure that have been gathered together and used in the media to generate negative publicity. Public relations officials publicize the material which is sourced from a myriad of security services (or sometimes forged). We may be new to the world of kompromat in America, but in Russia, this is a characteristic feature and is what helped make Putin president in 2000.

With all of this going on and whether the kompromat towards Trump is fake news or not, DaSilva thought it appropriate to brand the White House with the "Kompromat" light graffiti. The use of the color red also plays a significant role in this work because in Russia, red signifies something beautiful, good, or honorable. The Kremlin (house of the Russian President) in Russia sits adjacent to The Red Square, the most important square in Russia. In using red to write the word "kompromat", DaSilva plays with the importance that the color red holds in Russia, connecting it to a word that is quite literally the opposite of good, beautiful, or honorable. 

If This Art Could Vote

Artists reflect on America's pivotal 2016 election season in Huffington Post's If This Art Could Vote submission portal. DaSilva submitted a work from 2015, right when the nomination process for presidency was beginning. If Trump can be president, hell, Deez Nuts can be president! Shot at an abandoned Burger King (you don't see many of those) in Allentown, PA, DaSilva saw this as the perfect Americana location for this political piece. 

Deez Nuts, 2015

Deez Nuts, 2015

Donald Trump ‘Loser,’ by Artist Vicki DaSilva, in Front of His Building

Loser, 2016

Loser, 2016

By Jaime Rojo & Steven Harrington

The unreality TV version of the U.S. political race is simplifying and degrading the discussions that candidates are having during this election cycle. If you ask the Republican frontrunner what the race is about he’ll reduce it down to a contest of winners and losers.

Artist Vicki da Silva would agree. The artist did her own ode to The Donald in front of his 40 Wall Street building in New York to illustrate her sentiment.

Read the full article here.

This article is also posted in Brooklyn Street Art