Lumiere Durham 2013

November 20, 2013

Consumerist Christmas Tree by Luzinterruptus

Consumerist Christmas Tree by Luzinterruptus

We braved the biting cold and travelled up to Durham at the weekend for the 2013 Lumiere Festival. I was so excited as it’s one of the largest and most prominent light art festivals in the UK at the moment and one of great inspiration for my practice.

This year they ticketed (free) the central portion of the festival from between 4.30 and 7.30 in order to manage the crowds at the busiest times. We didn’t have tickets for this so we wandered around the outer exhibits first.

Litre of Light by Mick Stephenson

Litre of Light by Mick Stephenson

The pieces which particularly impressed me were ‘Litre of Light’ an extremely simple but effective way of using an old plastic bottle, refracted sunshine, water and chlorine to make a 55-watt solar bulb. The invention is being used to bring cheap and effective light sources to windowless dwellings across the world, it truly is a remarkable thing. The presentation here was done by Mick Stephenson. Lots of bottles had been decorated in coloured pen and placed in clustered in the walls and ceiling to create glowing growths like stalactites in a deep, dark cave. 

Platonic Spin by Nathaniel Rackowe

Platonic Spin by Nathaniel Rackowe

The floating interlocking rectangles of light of ‘Platonic Spin’ by Nathaniel Rackowe in the Crown Court Gardens were a quiet and uncanny beauty to come across. They drew out sequences in light which burned into your temporary visual memory to mesmerising effect.

[M]ondes by Atsara

[M]ondes by Atsara

By far my favourite piece was [M]ondes by Atsara in the central area of the festival. We waited in line for over an hour to get in as the crowds of people seemed to overwhelm the city, with more and more arriving all the time (testament to Lumiere’s popularity). It was worth the wait though as the light sculpture flickered like fireflies buzzing over the gardens accompanied by ephemeral voluminous light projections marking out hypnotic shapes and spaces in the rest of the garden.

I certainly love Lumiere, but I wonder how it will cope with the ever increasing crowds for next time. Last time there were a lot of people but in general we were able to amble around at leisure and happen upon pieces of work rather than being so guided (in the central zone).

I think the organisers, Artichoke, did what they could to manage the crowds, but when something is so astoundingly popular but the size of the city is so small in comparison, I wonder if eventually Durham Lumiere will become a victim of its own success. I certainly hope not. Its popularity shows the growing public love of light art and it’s wonderful to know that there are so many people who are also fascinated and delighted by the wonder that is light and all of its creative and practical possibilities.

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Light Up Lancaster

November 7, 2013

City of Colour close up

City of Colour close up

I was recently commissioned by Green Close Studios to create a site specific piece of work for the Light Up the Streets event as part of Light Up Lancaster 2013.

I had been drawn to the architecture by the river Lune on a trip to Morecambe Bay days before I saw the advert for the expression of interest. I decided to use this scene as my inspiration, creating a smaller version in the style of a stage set to fill an empty shop window.

In my practice I use light in various different ways. My more recent work has focussed on natural sunlight to create effects and develop certain themes, so it was nice to have a change and work with artificial lighting once again. I think I’m going to work fairly seasonally from now on, working with sunlight during the lighter months and going crazy with brightly coloured artificial lights in the winter!

View to the river

View to the river

Back to the work: the buildings are made into a screen to give an interesting shape and take it away from an all too literal recreation. They are however, all hand-drawn and to scale, which believe me, took quite a while to do! I made an abstract paper sky to be lit up with a brightly coloured aurora dancing above the buildings. I wanted there to be a kind of new magic to the scene so many locals will be familiar with seeing daily.

I also had the good fortune to be able to choose a line from a LitFest commissioned poem by Sarah Hymas, “By the Mouth of the Lune”. I partially cut the words out of the silver card I was using as the representation of the river, and stood them on end to reflect the bright blue light and into the silver as if ripples on the water. The line read:

A slivering luminescence and a flatness

that slips and transmutes through

the music of a blue man’s riddle

(From S. Hymas’ poem “By the Mouth of the Lune”)

I felt that these words gave an abstract, yet visually descriptive, quality to the scene and helped to tie it together.

City of Colour

City of Colour

Feedback on the night from visitors was really positive. Many took pictures or had their picture taken in front of the work, others gazed at it for quite a while, looking at the aurora dance of the sky; and children in particular were excited by the scale of the work (the buildings often being their height).

The aurora in the sky

The aurora in the sky

Apologies for the cafe logo in some of the pictures. The piece was housed in a shopping arcade, so light from other shops reflected onto the window.

IA13 Degree Show

July 31, 2013

End of degree number two! I was lucky to have three pieces in the show; two in the main Interactive Arts show, and one specially commissioned piece by the Manchester School of Art for the roof terrace on the new building.

This year I used Zen poetry as my main influence because its philosophy of constantly asserting the transience of our existence is something I wanted from my artwork. I feel that light has this transient quality through its visibility and invisibility which could then be used to visually activate the meaning of the poetry. With this in mind, I defined my project as creating a modern Zen scroll.

Sun Scroll at midday

Sun Scroll at midday

‘Sun Scroll’ is a Zen poem revealed by sunlight. It addresses themes of transience, emphasised by the transient sunlight. The projected words appear differently throughout the day and year depending on the angle of the sun.

'Leap And The Net Will Appear'

‘Leap And The Net Will Appear’

‘Leap and the net will appear’ is a Zen saying that I appropriated into a piece of text art activated by light. You know the light’s path but you can’t see it all, requiring you to trust in the leap to the text.

'Sun Bowls' on display

‘Sun Bowls’ on display

The ‘Sun Bowls’ contain extracts from Zen poems that refer to a transience of existence echoed in the use of glass and light to illuminate the words. The shifting lighting conditions within a room changes the visibility of the words – sometimes readable from above, others from the projection onto the surface below, and occasionally not at all. The bowls are intended to be lived with and viewed over a period of time, becoming part of the owner’s personal context and place.

'Sun Bowl' in the home

‘Sun Bowl’ in the home

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I emerge into MediaCityUK Square, a group of photographers have their cameras set up and all are pointing in my direction. I have made it, and go to take my place along side them. Seconds later, a line of people dressed in morph-like suits hooked up with bright blue LEDs on their arms and legs come jogging surprisingly quietly down the same walkway I have just come from. The line gets longer, until there are around 80+ light-morphs streaming past…Continue reading my review at the a-n website.

Ghost dances

January 22, 2013

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Light Night Leeds 2012

October 12, 2012

We made the short hop across into Yorkshire for the Leeds Light Night last week. An evening of activities, exhibitions, installations, films and general liveliness which took place well into the dark of night across the city. The map of events was full of things to see and do, far too many for us to get around them all, so we planned some activities and stumbled across others while en route.

I was keen to visit Leeds City Art Gallery‘s ‘Drawing Sculpture‘ exhibition, which displayed work which presented a link between the act of drawing and creating sculpture. It was an interesting exhibition, supported well by the accompanying essay by Anna Lovatt in the exhibition catalogue. However, before we even stepped foot into the grand gallery building we came across a group of Indian musicians and dancers playing outside the entrance, drawing a crowd of visitors keen to have a go. At one point, when there must have been at least 100 people dancing, it felt as if we had stepped into a peculiar new type of exercise class with everyone following the moves of the main dancers.

After an autumnal soup break in the decadent tiled cafe, we put our names down for some light painting with artist David Shearing. We timed it perfectly as it was particularly popular and they had to stop admitting visitors shortly after our turn. Armed with a plethora of glowing toys we created some light drawings via projection and computer software, which mimicked the action of light painting on a camera with the shutter left open for a few seconds. Our effort wasn’t the most artistically thought out, but it was fun nonetheless!

We exited through the inflatable dome, squeezing out of the tunnel like Ace Ventura out of the Rhino’s backside. Fun, yes. Flattering, no. There was no time for embarrassment however, as we ran (responsibly) through the gallery to the showing of ‘Turning at Right Angles to Midnight’ by Andi Noble and Matt Collins. It was a beautiful glimmering delight of sound and lights.

Other highlights of the evening were the video and animation projections strewn across the walls all over the Leeds College of Art building, showcasing some exquisite talent from the young artists. Ending the evening we came across some ladies dressed in some strange attire, looking rather like beautiful zombies who were on their way home. We stopped to ask what they had been doing that evening and they told us that they were singing as they are an a cappella quartet and offered to sing us a song! They did so, and by the end of it we found that a crowd had joined us in bopping about to their smooth, smooth sound. The perfect goodbye and end to the evening.

 

‘Happiness II’

I showed my work in the Haecceity Project at Nouvel Organon Gallery in Paris this July. It was a wonderful experience to show my work outside of the UK and to reach a new audience.

I designed ‘Happiness II’ to create a temporary projected document on the pages of the book using sunlight. I re-appropriated a line from a Stephen Dunn poem to visually highlight the transience of happiness. This meant that sometimes it would ‘work’ and other times it would not, depending on the lighting conditions. The first day it rained, but in the evening the light from the street lamps activated the work, which surprised everyone, including myself, as I had only really designed it with sunlight in mind.

The sun came out over the next few days, which made the piece work as intended. This certainly pleased me, but as an artwork that highlights the transience and intangibility of an emotion, it would have fulfilled its conceptual purpose whether the sun came out or not.

One thing I did not anticipate was that the graffiti acid-etched into the gallery window, which also projected onto the work at times. At first this frustrated me, but then I realised that I had created a piece which was ephemeral and relied totally on outside factors to work or not work, and this was something I had to accept. The graffiti was a part of the city, and that was literally becoming part of the experience of my work, for better or worse. Not unlike the experience of happiness.

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Still from ‘Dirty Heart’

The Hologram Heart Parade video I made for their single ‘Dirty Heart’ has been included in the 90-minute documentary on the new Manchester music scene ‘Manchester: Beyond Oasis’. Directed by Brett Gregory and produced by Serious Feather the documentary can be viewed in full here.

Light Weather is my first solo exhibition in the Link Gallery, Manchester. The exhibition comprises of two parts: the Link is a large-scale installation, at one end of the gallery there is an abstract sky lit up with coloured flashes of light, throughout the rest of the gallery there are coloured pools of light suspended above the floor. The Foyer space shows some of my abstract light photography and an experimental light sculpture.

The installation is a complete experiment. It’s not often I have the opportunity to work in such a large and unusual space where I can let my imagination run wild (time and health and safety restrictions aside). So I have responded to the space to create an installation which is similar to a stage set. Nothing is naturalistic, the sky and pools of light are abstractions of what they represent, and are lit up with bright colours appealing to the senses. People can walk through the set, as both participants and audience, and hopefully enjoy it as a memorable interruption to their day.

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Throughout the week there have been many people who have stopped and stared up at the flashing sky suspended from the ceiling of a hexagon in the Link. People have commented that they have spent a good 10 minutes or so looking at the exhibition and listening to my specially matched playlist of music, enjoying the calming effect it has had. The Link is essentially a walkway from one building to the next, many people just walk through and only glance at what is on the walls, so it is nice to know that my work has made some people pause from where they are going. Others said they enjoyed the use of the space as a full-scale installation as this has not happened for quite some time.

Overall I’m pleased with the exhibition and how well it has been received. As I said before, it was an experiment, plus I only had a day and a half to install it all, so there are things I’d change. I only learnt these during the installation and when it was up – the main one being that the hallway windows were too light during the day, and unfortunately I was not allowed to black them out due to health and safety regulations. However, the overall look and effect was as intended (especially at night), and it has encouraged me to continue to be ambitious with my ideas and set ups.

I’ve had a couple of months to ruminate on this photography book by Rinko Kawauchi. I like to make a cup of tea and sit down with it, gently turning the pages bound with a Japanese binding technique, and admiring the way the photos have been placed together.

The pictures are varied in subject matter but all give the impression that they have been happened upon by Kawauchi during a lifetime of  travelling around, camera poised to capture life through her perspective. She uses her camera’s settings skillfully and artistically, over-exposing on some to give an ethereal effect; in the case of her Japanese blossoms the images lift my spirits and bring a smile to my face each time I look at them.

Rinko Kawauchi Blossom picture from 'Illuminance'

Each picture subtly relates to the next, be it the echo of a shape or colour, a line of light in a swimming pool travelling across to the strips of light on a tube train; or energetic splashes of water from swimmers to the static dew droplets caught on spiders’ webs.

Rinko Kawauchi from 'Illuminance'

Then there is the light. As the title of the book suggests, light, even in the darker pictures, is the essential tool to making each picture so special. Orbs of light are scattered across the body of work, appearing at intervals like old friends, never seen to the naked eye, but caught by the camera’s lens.

Rinko Kawauchi Light picture from 'Illuminance'

The moments she captures make up the stuff of life, and with her help, we notice beauty in some of the most inconsequential of subjects. A new colour palette and way of looking at surroundings emerges, and for that, I find this book visually and soulfully nourishing.

Rinko Kawauchi from 'Illuminance'