Contemporary artists around the world are painting with light, using photographic techniques to add layers of light art on top of real-world scenes. These layers, which take many forms, add depth, evoke awe, and are stunningly creative. These images also illustrate the changing relationship between real and digital realms, nature and technology, and the photographer and their studio tools.
Korean artist Lee Jeong Lok overlays glowing Korean characters, symbols, and stylized natural forms like butterflies and trees on the natural vistas he has photographed.
In Designboom, he writes: “I have been painting something that exists despite its invisible nature; places that correspond to the visible world, places beyond our sensual cognition, profoundly mysterious places that nevertheless cannot be separated from our world of cognition.”
Lok adds: “painting with light is the body, mind, and the soul harmoniously following the rhythm; it is an act of delivering positive energy felt by the body, rather than creating something from nothing.”
French artist Julien Breton, otherwise known as “Kaalam” is also inspired by light, translating his own movements with flashlights into gorgeous depictions of Arabic calligraphy.
The characters seemingly appear out of thin air, although in a few photographs Kaalam doesn’t completely photoshop himself out, so you see the man behind the light, the precise moves that result in the alphabetic additions.
As This Is Colossal writes, Kaalam is attracted to architectural backdrops as well as dark rooftops and streets. The contrast between the tightly-scripted visions of light and the organic urban scenes adds to the allure of these art works.
And then there’s Italian photographer Paolo Pettigiani, whose augmented layer is an infrared filter, which completely remakes the Italian countryside into a candy-colored (or perhaps toxic) fantasy world. Designboom brings together a collection of these photographs.
Like Lok, he is also showing us an unseen world, given humans can’t see infrared light.
Beaches, woodlands, and marshes become unfamiliar, their forms seem renewed.