Inspired by Inuit iconography, Fabrice Wittner (previously) describes his latest series as “an invitation to enter the polar night.” The Northern Lights, a project in which the artist superimposes figures onto the Arctic phenomenon, involves painting with a light source like a torch on an extended-exposure photograph, illuminating those he depicts. Wittner combined this technique with his use of leatherette stencils, which are inspired by archived Inuit images from the early 20th century, to create his complex and layered portrayals. Committed to environmentally friendly processes, Wittner produced his low-pollution cyanotype prints using found and recycled materials, such as scraps of Dilite aluminum plates and pallet wood.
Originally from Alsace, France, the artist is interested in the ways climate change will affect native polar populations. As the sea ice melts and water levels rise, the hunting resources in the area inevitably will be affected, changing daily life for these groups of people.
The interdependency between the lifestyle evolution, global warming, the threat upon wildlife, and the consequences on the northern populations should lead us to reconsider our whole society. Inuits from Greenland and the North American continent, Sames from Northern Europe, and ethnic groups from Siberia will be on the front line of global warming. As the first climate refugees, only their memory and the spirits of their ancestors will remain on their lands.
Share this story
New York City’s Garment District recently received a dose of cold-weather fun with Impluse, an interactive installation of 12 oversize seesaws that glow and emit sound when someone hops on one end. Originally shown at the Place Des Festivals in Montreal in 2016 before traveling to cities like Chicago, Boston, Scottsdale, the installation allows users to produce their own light and sound shows that transform the city’s dreary January streets. The seesaws range from 16 to 24 feet and contain LED lights that vary in intensity and speakers that play random musical sequences.
Designed by Lateral Office and CS Design, Impulse encourages people to come together in a “public space all year round, both summer and winter months, by engaging ideas of urban play,” the creators said in a statement. “Inspired by the iconic cover of the Joy Division album ‘Unknown Pleasures,’ as well as Steve Reich’s serial, minimal music, which plays with repetition, rhythm and syncopation, Impulse project explores how architecture can visualize sound.” You can be part of the communal display by visiting the installation, which is on Broadway until January 31, or if you’re not in the city, by checking out the Garment District on Instagram.
Share this story
This year’s Amsterdam Light Festival, running November 28, 2019, to January 19, 2020, lights up the European city with illuminated art installations. The festival, now in its eighth year, attracts tourists and engages locals at a time when the city is cloaked in darkness for about sixteen hours each day. Visitors to the Light Festival use a phone app to guide themselves through Amsterdam’s city center, perusing twenty light works by artists from around the world. This year’s show theme was “DISRUPT!” and artists reflected the concept in pieces that ruminate on climate change, national history, technology, and more. See some of our favorites here, by Masamichi Shimada, UxU Studio, Sergey Kim and others. You can explore the full line-up and programming on the Amsterdam Light Festival website.
Share this story
Chicago-based duo Luftwerk (previously) partnered with architect Iker Gil and sound designer Oriol Tarragó for “Geometries of Light,” two coordinated installations celebrating the architectural forms of Mies van der Rohe. Both displayed in 2019, the shows were separated by one continent and approximately eight months; the German Pavilion display was on view in February 2019, and the second installation took place this fall at the Farnsworth House outside of Chicago.
The concept was was inspired by the structure’s apparent weightlessness, as it “seemingly floats perfectly on its pedestal”, Petra Bachmaier of Luftwerk tells Colossal. After an initial site visit to Barcelona in 2018, the artists decided to use “a specific tool to accentuate the clarity of the architecture with the laser level, a tool mainly used for construction sites to keep things level,” explains Backmaier. (Bosch Powertools provided the bluetooth-enabled three-plane lasers for both installations.)
For both sites, the designers were inspired by the history and context of each location. The German Pavilion was built in 1929 and demolished a year later; in 1986 it was rebuilt based on drawings. With bright red lines cutting through rooms and wrapping around walls, “Geometry of Light heightens the illusion of physical and material boundaries,” says Bachmaier. This effect also reflects the morphed history of the building, and retracing its form, from physical to two-dimensional drawing, to physical once again.
In the autumnal installation at the Farnsworth House, the artists explored the relationship between the architecture and its rural setting. “It uncovers the forgotten history of the site and remnants of earlier landscape by revealing the underlying geometries that relate the renowned house to its river floodplain, topography and key trees that no longer exist,” the artists tell Colossal.
Share this story
Graphic designer, artist, and photographer Rus Khasanov (previously) plays with color and perception in a new alphabetical series called Marmalade Type. “This is a bright and colorful typography captured with camera,” Khasanov clarifies in a brief statement on the project. “There is not a drop of any paint here only the phenomenon of interference.” (Learn more about birefringence here).The resulting letters appear to pop off the page as shimmering multi-colored blobs. Explore the full series on Behance, and see more of the multi-disciplinary creative’s work on Instagram and Vimeo.
Share this story
German photographer Tom Hegen, who specializes in aerial photography, recently traveled to the Netherlands to document the country’s LED greenhouses. The greenhouses were developed as a response to the small country’s growing need for food both within its own borders and to the international market. Dutch exporters are second only to the U.S. industry for global food exports as measured by value. Although the greenhouses offer incredible efficiency in their design, cultivating food year-round through high temperatures and humidity levels, their round-the-clock use also gives off a great deal of light pollution. Hegen flew in a helicopter at night to capture the yellow and purple glow that the greenhouses give off, their geometric planes of illumination standing out from the dark atmosphere.
The photographer tells Colossal that his work centers around the topic of the Anthropocene (the era of human influence on Earth’s biological, geological, and atmospheric processes). “In my photography, I explore the origin and scale of that idea in an effort to understand the dimensions of man’s intervention in natural spaces and to direct attention toward how humans can take responsibility.” Hegen explains that aerial photography in particular helps convey the Anthropocene because it shows the dimensions and scale of human impact more effectively.
“I am also fascinated by the abstraction that comes with the change of perspective; seeing something familiar from a new vantage point that you are not used to,” Hegen tells Colossal. “I use abstraction and aestheticization as a language to inspire people and also to offer the viewer a connection to the subject as they need to decode what they are looking at.”
In 2018 Hegen published his first aerial photo book, HABITAT, and next year he will start working on a follow-up, the artist shares with Colossal. Keep up with Hegen’s travels and latest projects on Instagram and Behance.
Share this story
Chicago-based artist Reuben Wu (previously) blurs the lines between photography and art in his unique images. Wu’s work brings him to remote locations around the world to capture rugged landscapes. But rather than focusing on purely documenting local topography, Wu uses lighted drones to create geometric shapes in the air, accenting the natural surroundings. Featured here are images from Wu’s Lux Noctis and Aeroglyphs series, showcasing the artist’s interplay of organic and constructed shapes.
“Lux Noctis started as a means to present landscapes in a different way to conventional photography. The use of artificial lighting in a natural landscape came to me at Trona Pinnacles in 2014 when a random truck drove into my time lapse, unexpectedly illuminating the pinnacles in a way that shouldn’t exist,” Wu tells Colossal. “This expanded into the idea of introducing my own look and feel to a landscape using very nuanced aerial lighting. Rather than rely on the sun, and timing, to light my images, I was able to light it myself, like I would in a studio environment.” For his most recent Lux Noctis images, Wu traveled to Bolivia with sponsorship from Phase One, to use the company’s new XT camera platform.
For Aeroglyphs, the artist draws inspiration from the Land Art movement to create interventions without physically touching the earth. Images from the series are currently on view at photo-eye in Santa Fe, New Mexico through November 16, 2019. A catalogue from the show is available for preorder from Kris Graves Projects. Stay up to date with Wu’s new work and travels on Instagram and Facebook.
Share this story
Editor's Picks: Photography
Highlights below. For the full collection click here.