In my work, light plays a role in translating ephemeral movement into tangible sculptural forms. This series of light compositions was created through collaborations between performance artists, dancers and myself. My initial role is that of observer and photo-documenter, studying patterns that are created when the artist performs. I then create site-specific neon light sculptures and installations that are the aftermath of our combined experience. In this way, the static sculptures embody the transients of the performance.
The performances take place in a darkened space, where the dancers or performance artists hold lights. As their performance begins, I photograph their choreography using the camera as a drawing tool; long-exposures that track the staccato beams of light and their gestures over time. The result is photographic drawings that trace the lines of their actions: as the camera moves with the dancers, accidents occur, adding spontaneity and playfulness to the drawings. In a sense, the line drawings are a re-enactment of the performances, of which the end results extend beyond the original performance, both as an archive and as a vehicle for creating the neon work.
The weightless, suspended floating and free-standing neon forms are unique compositions that exist independently or with the dancers. In some cases, the performers dance alongside the neon, and in other cases they are displayed alone. The viewer can move around the sculptural works, imagining the path of the performers’ bodies and our collaboration within the space.
Within the installations, an important part of the process for me is to record the timing of the dancers’ breath. I correlate the different inhalation rhythms to match the sequence of the neon lights as they turn on and off, embodying the real-time kinetics of the original performance, activating the space with dark pauses in one instance and bright glows the next. In some ways, I’m questioning how far the human emotion and gesture of performance can be captured in my final neon sculptures.
Creating the neon is a solitary exploration, a fragmented memory of the now ended performance. Some essence of the original performance remains in the final sculptural works, but there is also something that is created new in the final neons.
The neon are luminous, fleeting moments, echoing the sensitivity, gestures and emotions initially conveyed during the performances. They are metaphors of past and present; maps of the artists’ performance, yet symbolic of our collaborations.