Computer Arts - - Contents -

Louise Sloper dis­cusses her long fas­ci­na­tion with the power of light

I have a fas­ci­na­tion with light. How it can mask and il­lu­mi­nate. How, as kids, we chased our shad­ows down the street. The ex­cite­ment of a fire­work dis­play, the magic of fairy lights on the Christ­mas tree, the sen­sory height­en­ing lasers in the night­club and those kitsch fi­bre op­tic star­bursts from the ’80s! How it can up­lift and ma­nip­u­late our emo­tions.

I re­mem­ber my youth­ful de­light at writ­ing out my name with a sparkler on bon­fire night, and later learn­ing that some of our great­est artists had that same fas­ci­na­tion. I stud­ied Pi­casso, Man Ray and Mo­holy-Nagy’s ex­per­i­ments with abakog­ra­phy and the way they cap­tured light writ­ing so purely and boldly. Re­cently I saw that joy on my nieces’ faces as they did the same for the first time. That im­print on the retina, the magic of it all. It’s science and art rolled in to one.

I went through a phase of al­most ev­ery mood­board at work con­tain­ing Dan Flavin’s in­stal­la­tions. I’ve ob­sessed over Alexan­der Mc­Queen’s Kate Moss holo­gram, Philip Treacy’s LED hats (and all Moritz Walde­meyer’s work), and United Vis­ual Artists’ awe-in­spir­ing dig­i­tal cre­ations. Re­cently, there have been spec­tac­u­lar ad­vance­ments in pro­jec­tion map­ping and cre­ative ex­per­i­ments with sur­veil­lance cam­era-gun lasers (known as surveil­lu­mi­nes­cence).

This year I’m fo­cus­ing on a per­sonal ex­plo­ration of the use of light; an art film where light plays an in­te­gral part in cre­at­ing the highly charged at­mos­phere I want the viewer to ex­pe­ri­ence.

I’m cer­tainly not alone. In­stal­la­tions and events are pop­ping up in rapid suc­ces­sion across the globe, and, like moths to flames, draw­ing in huge crowds. Lu­min­ism, which ac­cord­ing to Wikipedia is, “an ap­plied art form in which light is the main medium of ex­pres­sion…through the ma­nip­u­la­tion of light, colour, and shadow,” cel­e­brates light’s mys­ti­cal qual­ity. Over the past 12 months, Lon­don has hosted the hugely suc­cess­ful city-wide Lu­miere event, Ca­nary Wharf’s Win­ter Light, the Cerith Wyn Evan’s in­stal­la­tion at Tate Bri­tain and Chiswick House’s Mag­i­cal Lantern Fes­ti­val. The city is also home to the uber-In­sta­grammable heaven that is God’s Own Junk­yard and the mem­bers’ club and art gallery Lights of Soho. Then there are the many in­cred­i­ble events all around the world, such as Fu­ture World at Sin­ga­pore’s ArtS­cience Mu­seum.

A friend re­cently re­minded me of the ori­gin of the word ‘lu­mi­nary’ – a for­ward­thinker, light­ing the way for oth­ers to fol­low. Against the back­drop of fake news and global tragedies, Lu­min­ism ul­ti­mately brings (ex­cuse the pun) light re­lief from the wor­ries of ev­ery­day life.

Let’s em­brace our in­nate fas­ci­na­tion, and let light in­spire, heal, be­witch and leave us in eter­nal child-like won­der.

Un­ti­tled, Dan Flavin’s in­stal­la­tion of ev­ery­day flu­o­res­cent lamps, com­mis­sioned by Calvin Klein in 1996.

Above: West­min­ster Abbey as part of Lu­miere Lon­don 2017. Right: Pi­casso ex­per­i­ment­ing with abakog­ra­phy; Louise Sloper’s nieces on bon­fire night.

As head of art at BMB Lon­don, Louise Sloper over­sees the cre­ative agency’s vis­ual out­put across mul­ti­ple in­te­grated plat­forms. Here, she ex­plains how her child­hood fas­ci­na­tion with the power of light in­forms her work.

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