Light Art Looms Large: 10 Artists Project Illuminated Images

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Churches are scrawled with ephemeral graffiti, public squares transmit profound messages and trees come to life with the moving heads of Cambodian deities when artists use digital projectors to transmit imagery onto urban surfaces. These 10 artists project words, classical art, geometric shapes, mirage-like fields of color or their own photography onto everything from Capitol buildings to screens made of water.

Jenny Holzer

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American artist Jenny Holzer uses words on an unprecedented scale, especially with her outdoor light projections, introducing commentary to public spaces. While the words were her own from the time she started in 1977 until roughly 2001, she has begun working with texts written by others, including the works of great literary figures and sources like declassified US Army documents from the war in Iraq.

Clement Briend
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Trees come to life in the sculptural images of deities and spirits from Cambodian culture in the series Cambodian Trees by French artist Clement Briend. Highlighting the nature that can be found within urban contexts, the series transformed the streets of Paris. Says brined, “Such nocturnal visions allow us to grasp the way magic profoundly influences how Cambodian people perceive the world.”


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Artist duo Luftwerk, made up of Petra Bachmaier and Sean Gallero, integrated Chicago’s iconic Cloud Gate into a light art installation called Luminous Field. The work used the reflective qualities of the sculpture to enhance and magnify imagery that was projected onto the ground around it.

Usman Haque

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Commissioned by the City of Santa Monica for Glow 08, ‘Primal Source’ by Usman Haque was projected onto a large-scale waterscreen/mist projection system at a beach location near the city’s pier to create a mirage-like effect. The light changes in response to the sounds emanating from the crowd. “Some modes created ‘captures’ whose colour, shape and movement followed the frequency and amplitude dynamics of individual syllables and sentences picked up; other modes responded to wider collective phenomena, e.g. distorting a grid in response to the crowd volume, or creating a rush of wind through a wheat-field landscape.”

Paolo Buroni
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Classic art comes to the streets for all to see when Italian multimedia artist Paolo Buroni projects images onto architecture in public squares. “I like to create change – to change reality with imagination,” says the artist. His works have been commissioned for events like the Venice Biennale and has appeared in Nuremburg,, Budapest, Istanbul, Paris and Seoul.