(Check out our complete collection of 100+ Works of Creative and Geeky Art and Graffiti.)
From light writing to extreme exposures, light graffiti, also known as light painting, takes what you think you know about graffiti and turns it on its head. This ephemeral approach to art and expression uses the movement of light to create incredible images and is created on the streets, in nature, and in studios by artists whose creative impulses transcend traditional media. Unlike projection bombing, light graffiti is sometimes produced as performance art, and sometimes just to capture it with photography and video, but either way it makes for some incredible viewing. These ten artists producing light graffiti and light painting represent some of the most amazing talent in a growing (and increasingly strange) field of art. See more in our collection of 100+ Works of Creative and Geeky Art and Graffiti.
Michael Bosanko is a photographer who’s taken on light painting in a series called “We Come in Peace”, in which figures made of light seem to interact with their surroundings in a way that’s comical, fun and highly engaging. The series features giant spiders crawling down a highway, “alien” rocks gathering around a central “spaceship”, a light figure skateboarding on a ramp and another hitchhiking on the side of a road.
Patrick Rochon creates stunning images by moving light through various media and capturing the movement with photography and video. Patrick’s light painting is unique even among a field of very innovative artists, using lasers to illuminate his subjects in ways that create an eerie, otherwordly feel in the finished portraits. Patrick has also taken light painting to a whole new level by building costumes of lights and performing light painting on a giant screen to create a unique visual experience.
The German group Lichtfaktor has produced some of the best-known light graffiti, transforming everyday objects like trash cans, phone booths and street signs into live creatures that wave their arms around and seem to spring forth from the street. Comprised of Marcel Panne, David L’pschen and Tim Fehske, Lichtfaktor combines talents like graphic design, video mixing and photography to craft series of images and videos for companies like Absolut Vodka, Audi, Sprint and Playstation.
Cenci Goepel and Jens Warnecke
German duo Cenci Goepel and Jens Warnecke create stark imagery that brings a ghostly quality to the beauty of nature, turning striking natural settings into backdrops for glowing organic forms made of moving light. Their subtle use of light painting in deserts, canyons, forests and snow-covered fjords makes the illuminated forms seem to blend in with their backgrounds in a way that brings to mind alien landscapes on some far away planet.
Eric Staller‘s light drawings, created between 1976 and 1980 in New York City, give the viewer a whole new look at the Big Apple. These examples of light graffiti were created using a long exposure with a variety of light sources, sometimes in the form of 3-dimensional lit installations. His photographs seem to give the light itself a life of its own, as it travels through the city creating whimsical shapes down its streets and walkways.
Ryan Warnberg and Michelle McSwain (MRI)
Queens, NY light painters Ryan Warnberg and Michelle McSwain are collectively known as MRI, a group that creates light paintings for hire. MRI’s fun brand of light painting can be commissioned for parties, ad campaigns and special events, and they bring all of their own equipment. MRI creates “kaleidoscopic” images that invoke old portraits of religious figures, but with a decidedly modern twist.
Sola is a UK photographer whose experiments with the flow, form and movement of light are captured in two series, “Embro” and “Solid Trace”. Embro, defined by the artist as “Echoes of the organic world translated into a synthetic language”, seems to explore how light captured in a photograph can seem just as organic as anything else around us. “Solid Trace”, which the artist calls “An exploration of movement and form in contrastingly stark environments” portrays vibrant swirls of colored light on urban backdrops.
Alan Jaras creates his stunning images by passing streams of light through molded and textured plastic, for a “refracted” effect that is unlike any other light painter’s work. Colored dyes are added to the plastic shape, and the shape is placed in front of the camera in lieu of a lens to be directly captured on 35mm film for an incredibly unique and organic result.
Dean Chamberlain takes portraiture to new heights with his pioneering light painting technique, which he developed in 1977. Renowned for his “Psychedelic Pioneers” series among other work, Chamberlain creates these images using extremely long exposures in sessions that can last as long as five hours. He uses a flashlight and colored gels to illuminate each individual element in a composition.
Toby Keller of Burn Blue Photography in Design has created a series of light painting images in which the free-flowing forms of light seem to have no rhyme or reason – and they don’t have to. Keller takes what would already be beautiful nature photography and makes it seem to crackle with kinetic energy as ribbons of glowing light swirl around groups of rocks by the sea. For more great light art from skilled graffiti artists check out CultCase and DarkRoastedBlend