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.