While experimenting with the use of objects for painting with light (one being a food strainer which ultimately was a massive fail), I continued to rummage through our overloaded store room where all the amazon boxes and no longer needed shite is kept, searching for more things to encase with light. I did however come across a mannequin torso that belongs to my roommates girlfriend – a fashion student. I previously bought LED strips that were far too bright to give the impression I wanted, but I thought covering the majority of its shining output could work in my favour.
The mannequin has a hole through its body where you can attach a pole so that you can hang the mannequin and alter the garments with ease, I was able to stuff the LED lights into the mannequin through this hole and even though it is covered in thick styrofoam the mannequin was now lit up like a freakish beacon effigy. I wanted to showcase the fact the mannequin doesn’t have a head so I stuck a fake tea light into its neck stump to add dramatic effect like some sort of headless banshee and attached a see through curtain to its diaphragm for some flowy movement. There is something about long exposure painting with light that feels as though you are capturing something that isn’t there but at the same time could be, some sort of residue spectres that reside in different frequencies and are only captured through means the naked eye can’t see, so it seemed fitting to try and capture some ghosts.
The mannequin in question minus the ghostly movement and before the tea light was added.
This weeks kick about over on Reds Kingdom where artists from all across the lands provide a creative response is an exert from Haruki Murakamis 1Q84 where he describes the transcendent moon as a perceptive but mute watcher over the earth and all it encompasses.
I feel like with the words of Murakami, the moon has an element of ominous brooding and a spark of stoicism at remembering what used to be. The light I am capturing with these long exposure shots, which rim the highlights of ornate wood panelling and makes the hard wood floor sing with colour, makes me wonder who used to reside in this old house previously? Who wandered through the hallways? Who ran their fingers along the wood panels? Who tended to the rose gardens? Who hung up all the photos that still have a small circular imprint on the ancient stained walls? I imagine the original family in black and white or faded sepia, posed on an old chaise lounge, looking dapper but serious.
This old creaky house with its not so glamorous leaks and constantly breaking faucets still has so much charm to it, bursting with history as high as its ceilings. The mammoth floors above us are now converted into flats, but one wonders how it all looked in its original form? How would the moon have shone into those vast rooms above me? I can only fantasise.
The process of producing these photos was relatively simple. I used long exposure photography to take the initial photographs (seen below) – curbing my preference for large swings of a light source, instead opting for a central steady point so that the light source would not bleed out from where the moon would be placed. From the Scientific Visualization Studio site I downloaded a HD colour and displacement map of the moon which I then plugged into a simple sphere within Maya so that I could get some nice renders of the moon with depth and texture. I then plopped the renders of the moon on top of the long exposure shots and edited to my hearts content so that the makeshift moon look as though it is the original light source.
A few more painting with light experiments. It is currently thundering and lightning violently here, I wonder what a sudden shock of light could have with these long exposure trial and errors? I would love if a police car were to go past our house just as I press the shutter button as the light from their sirens always lights the crevices of the curtains in a brilliant blue, maybe it could happen at just the right time? Here’s Hoping.
Some further light painting experiments. The idea of encapsulating a light source within a food strainer to block out the majority of light didn’t go down well, I couldn’t get a nice medium of light – the lights used were either to dim or way to bright. It is good to experiment though and whittle things down to see what works and what doesn’t. A few more experiments in between various arches with windows that bleed light from the street and then I think I will go on to some exterior attempts. I am excited to see what effects nature has to offer as our garden is brimming with blue bells and overgrowth and I wonder how the light will encompass this type of environment.
With the recent first birthday of the fortnightly Kick About over on Reds Kingdom I noticed I have a few prompts that haven’t been uploaded here on Gentle Giant, so I will be resolving that in the coming weeks. This prompt being of Jean Cocteau’s Orpheus (1950) being one of them and one of my favourite responses thus far.
“I knew exactly what I was going to create when I seen the new prompt for this weeks kick about, It was the night before my birthday and I was sitting out in the tiny garden in my previous London apartment, I was drinking red wine and smoking a cigarette and frankly, was feeling rather shit. Not sure if it was the birthday blues or if was a amalgamation of other things but my neighbours behind my house were having a party; they recently installed some outside lighting which surrounded their roomy garden in a blazing warm hue that lit up the brick of their apartment like a beacon in the night.
In my garden there is a full length mirror that is perched against a rickety garden shed that is full of art supplies and spiders. The light from the neighbours garden was reflecting brilliantly against the mirror – it looked otherworldly placed against the black shed and darkness of my garden, like the light didn’t belong in the darkness. I thought to myself “I wish that that was a fucking portal so I could step through, leave this place and see some happy faces”. The neighbours next door continued to dance and sing into the night.”
I have been cleaning and gardening around our house and came across a peculiar bell jar with pureed blackened berries cemented to the bottom like tar. It’s mad what you’ll find in an old house with plenty of history! Before chucking boiling water in it and dumping it down the drain I took some photos and did some edits to show its glistening gooeyness.
Another batch of photography from my first round of painting with light. When I first seen the images from the window nook containing the table and three chairs I lit up and was invigorated to spend a long time here, trying testing and experimenting – working with those theatrical curtains and light pooling in between its fabric crevices. I have some more experiments planned for the coming nights and I’m skittish to continue to capture some spectres.
The majority of my roommates moved out recently and I miss them dearly, the house is so quite and feels empty knowing that I can’t go outside our garden and have a cigarette and a laugh with them or be a victim of one of their many pranks or have them be a victim of one of mine. I live in a converted mansion of a house where the outside walls are brick red with gothic, victorian esque rounded towers, the house now converted into 3 separate buildings where our floor on the bottom being the largest house, while the floors above us converted into apartments with sprawling staircases.
My roommates have taken the wifi with them and I have been subjected to a digital detox which has been a blessing in disguise (currently using my dwindling data to post this) as its proving to get on with things that otherwise might have been put off. I have always wanted to give a bash at painting with light using long exposure trickery in particular when living in this house, the high ceilings with its ornate painted plaster and extruded window nooks with long thick curtains – one can imagine how the light would look in all its divots and grooves making it an ideal spot to give it a shoulder popping whirl.
I found myself finding things strewn about the place that I thought would work well – One morning after waking up to our roommates mammoth mounds of no longer of use rubbish strewn across the front patio thanks to pesky foxes I found a red bicycle light, and deep within the experiments of painting with light I noticed a rod hooked up to the large curtains used to draw back them back so you don’t end up pulling them off the rail, it became the perfect apparatus to attach the bicycle light too, meaning I wouldn’t be seen as some sort of shadowy figure in the results of the long exposure shots, even though wearing all black didn’t completely get me in the clear of some of the earlier shots.
I can really see the appeal of this endeavorer – It is invigorating to press the shutter button, swing violently away and away and then run back to your camera to await patiently for the shutter to finally release so that you can see the fruits of your labour. while the house is still empty I am going to keep experimenting with this. I bought some new LED strip lights but the results were less than desirable as the lights are too bright with too many – meaning the room was far too lit up, but with some tinkering I might be able to salvage something out of them. In the dedicated store room of our home where the walls are filled with discarded amazon boxes I found a head lamp with a strap, another golden opportunity to see what this light source can do, there’s also the possibility of not showing parts of the light – what about putting a bright light in say, a food strainer and spin that violently around? or some some of tube that funnels the light? the experiments feel endless and the creative juices are bubbling.
Welcome to this first anniversary edition of The Kick-About, a fortnightly blog-based creative challenge in which artists of all stripes come together to present work in response to a given prompt. I asked contributors to choose a favourite work of their own from the previous twenty-five editions so I could celebrate them all together here.