Friday, April 20, 2012

Experiments in Light & Motion

When I showed my brother these photographs, he asked me if I had ever looked at light drawings (or camera paintings). I had not, but now I have. This type of experimentation is quite old, although I discovered it independently through play and thought. As much as I wish I had originated this way of working, I did not.

That does not negate the experiment nor falsify its results. When I started working this way, I was thinking about the camera - how it allows light in over time and how the motion of the camera can distort light. Light can be smeared or dragged or pushed or pulled along with the the camera as it moves through space and time.

The camera was attached to my hand. It became an extension of my body, like any other hand tool. While working this way, I thought of the camera as a pencil or a paintbrush, and even as a hammer or a saw.

The light was the lead or the paint, the nail or the board. This is not a new analogy, but I came to it on my own through an interest in tool use, repetitive motion and mark making.

I slid my camera from side to side, I pushed it and pulled it, I wove it in and out of space, and I traced invisible patterns in the air. I even whirled like a dervish, and felt just as inspired.

I couldn't or I wouldn't sleep, as I considered new riffs - how a little more time and little less light might change the results of an unvaried movement; how a slight variation in my repetitious path might affect an unaltered exposure to light and time.

Each result led to the next set of parameters, a new Eureka!

I found scratches and smoke and squiggles and lines, even atmosphere and emotion or a digital reality.

Light filtered by by space and time, impressions made by hand with the assistance of a sighted machine. A pseudo-science made sincere through rules and regulations, computations and escalations.

If this, then that - not nearly as predictable as anticipated.

 I am excited to make marks using the camera as my drawing tool, an extended emotive roving eye taking in light and pacing through time. I may at some point reverse roles and draw with light onto the still canvas of the camera lens. 

As long as my body in motion is part of the process, I am willing to attempt the reverse - use light as a pen and time as a penetrable plane.  

What types of creative experimentation have you engaged in lately? Have you modified or developed a recipe? Have you written a story in a nontraditional format? What have you done to allow the epiphanies to flow and let the mind take you where it wants?

Alison :)


  1. I'm pleased with this picture I took in New York while crossing a street (I think...)

    and one that was more planned, a passing subway train.

    I like using the limitations of something, like a camera and the lack of light, to create something far removed from the reality of our experience.

  2. Thanks for sharing, Laurence! I enjoy seeing your photos in motion (or motions in photos). I feel the same way. When I work, I usually create a set of parameters. I like using a clear system that may give me an unexpected or unpredictable result. And I really like how the eye of the camera sees so differently from how I do.

    Alison :)