Finnish artist Janne Parviainen uses long camera exposures and LED lights to create vibrant otherworldly images that glow with intrigue.
Days of Our Lives
Looking at this image you might think that Finnish artist Janne Parviainen draped a kitchen with rope lights and then snapped a picture. In fact, he creates his images using single LED lights with which he "paints" a scene. So in this shot, the strands of white light that cover the surfaces were each individually drawn into the scene by Parviainen.
The artist also says that he never manipulates his images post-production, so all of the artistry takes place while the lens is open -- which can sometimes be as long as 55 minutes.
"The 'Guernica Now' photo is my modern-day version of Picasso's famous
painting of the horrors of World War II. Picasso painted people and
animals screaming the pain of war and chose black and white for the painting's
colors to outline the numbing horror of war. What got me to do my version of Guernica was reading the new TTIP (Transatlantic Trade and Investment
Partnership), an agreement that the USA and European Commission are dealing with at the
moment behind closed doors. If the agreement takes place, it would endanger the
sovereignty of the signatory states by allowing for a small circle of legal
experts sitting in a foreign court of arbitration an unprecedented power to
interpret and void the signatory states' legislation for the benefit of private
corporations. Basicly after the TTIP takes place, the big corporations would make
decicions over states at the cost of people's health and safety.
"I found that information deeply worrying and wanted to make my own
version of Guernica set in today's world where endless greed seems to rule over
every human right. In my Guernica you find people suffering the [poverty] and
the collapsing markets, working underpaid in horrific conditions and falling to
the ground abused and homeless. I also wanted to make the version abstract and
in black and white to keep the similarities to Picasso's painting. I used
different-colored LED lights in order to create different levels of gray in the
photo. The exposure time for the photo was 44 minutes."
I asked Parviainen "why Karma" for this shot and here's what he said:
"Karma is one of the longest exposures I have ever made with its 50
minutes of exposure time. I usually don't plan the names of my photos beforehand; after they are finished I sit at my computer and try to think what the photo
tells me. Very often I name the photo with a title that first springs to my
mind. With this one it was Karma. The room filled with magical-looking blue
light and the figure lying on the table seemed to fit to an idea of a
spiritual world we cannot see but that might very well always be present."
"'The Madonna' was taken in a huge abandoned gas factory near Helsinki.
The place itself is really creepy with it being totally vandalized and with
bullet shells all around (it had been a military training place at some
point), but it looks absolutely amazing for photographs. My light painting
trips have led me to a lot of places that have been totally littered with old
junk so I got this idea to start building these temporary trash
sculptures into them. When I built the Madonna sculpture it somehow reminded me
of ancient Madonna statues so I figured that would be the direction in which I'd like to take the light painting. The photo symbolizes the frightening
attitude people have nowadays to owning material; it's at the same time
everything we want but worthless junk after a quick period of time. This, like the
photo, evokes worshipping a road that can only lead to bad things."
Regarding this photo, named "Mantra," which uses a piece of 2D art as a background for the light painting, Parviainen explained:
"Combining real drawings into my light paintings is the most recent
addiction in my art. When I first tried the technique I just loved the idea that I could create totally new dimensions in my photos right at my own studio. With
this technique I usually plan the whole photo beforehand very carefully because
the drawing part can be really time-consuming. The drawing I made for 'Mantra' is
around 4x7 meters (13 x 23 feet) and I spent 4 hours drawing it, so when adding the 2
hours that went into getting the the light painting part right, it was quite a lot of
work to do."
In this painting, it seems as though you can see right through the limbs of the figure. I asked Parviainen about this effect.
"The transparent effect is done by exposing the ambient lighting of the
location in the photo after I have drawn the character in it," he said. "At first I trace
my own body in the right position with the LED light, then move aside and let
the ambient light expose the shadow of my body away from the photo. After that
you can only see the bright light of the LED in the photo against the
The 2006 novel by Daniel Woodrell became a Grand Jury Prize-winning film at 2010 Sundance festival, and now it's inspired an evocative painting made from light. Notice the light footprints in the snow.
"The 'You Gave Away My Everything' photo was really a lot of work to do," Parviainen said. "The
exposure time was around 45 minutes. For the photo, I had to trace the entire
room with one color-changing LED light. The idea for the photo actually came
from a horrible flu me and my wife had at that time. I had been feeling really
sick for around two weeks and decided a flu can't stop me from creating
something spectacular, so I decided to do as challenging a light painting as I
possibly could think of. My wife was acting as a model for the two figures that
can be seen in the photo. I came up with the name later because it seemed there was
a lot of tension between the two characters -- a bit like being in a relationship
with a narcissistic person."