Making amazing light art with the Kinect (photos)

Artist Audrey Penven has a new gallery exhibit that showcases her images made with infrared photography of light from a Kinect.

Daniel Terdiman
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Cyberpunk face

Artist and photographer Audrey Penven recently used a camera with an infrared filter to shoot a series of pictures of some friends playing the video game Dance Central using Microsoft's Kinect motion controller. What she found in the resulting images was a cacophony of unexpected light--faces and bodies covered in surreal dots. Based on that, and with the help of artist and animator Aaron Muszalski, Penven conducted a new photo shoot, and the resulting images are the basis of her new gallery exhibition, "Dancing with Invisible Light," which opens Friday in Emeryville, Calif.
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Unexpected treasure

This is one of the original images that Penven discovered when she examined the photos taken with the camera outfitted with the infrared filter. It shows one of her friends bathed in the lovely light of the Kinect--something the naked eye can't see.
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Dancing with Invisible Light

In the invitation to her gallery show, Penven wrote that, "As a photographer, I am most interested in the nature and quality of light: how light behaves in the physical world, and how it interacts with and affects the subjects that it illuminates. For this shoot my models and I were essentially working blind, with the results visible only after each image was captured. Together, we explored the unique physicality of structured light, finding our way in the darkness by touch and intuition. Dancing with invisible light."
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Penven played with motion and the light from the Kinect during her photo shoot. "There are two types of blur that happen in these photos," she told CNET. "There is a depth of field effect, which is most clearly seen with dots in the background. The other type of blur--the places where the dots turn into lines--are from model movement."
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Bathed in invisible light

The naked eye can't see the dots that the Kinect projects. But when photographed with a camera with an infrared filter, the magic comes out.
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Surreal images

Penven's photos are alive with bright dots.
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Beautiful motion

One of Penven's models poses for her camera.
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The blur in this photo comes from the movement of the model.
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Duality of dots

By placing her models in places where parts of their bodies are bathed in the light from the Kinect and some aren't, Penven's photos create a stark contrast between the two areas.
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Different light

Penven was surprised to discover what her photos contained.
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Dotted duo

This photo of Penven's shows two of her models bathed in the light from the Kinect.
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The color in this photograph was added in post-processing. The Kinect doesn't project any actual light, Penven said.
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It's hard to see the perspective of this photograph at first.
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This stunning photograph is from Penven's first collection of images based on the light projected from a Kinect.
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Kinect art

Though Penven seems to have made a new discovery with her work, she is hardly the only one using the Kinect to make art. In just five months since the device's launch, all kinds of art has been created.
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The face

Penven loves to shoot photos of her models' faces bathed in the light from the Kinect.
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This image seems otherwordly, but it is just a model photographed with a camera fitted with an infrared filter and using a flash.
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A model sports steampunk goggles in this photograph from Penven's upcoming gallery exhibition "Dancing with invisible Light."
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Depth of field

The blur in this image comes from a depth of field effect.
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Exhibit opens Friday

Penven's gallery exhibit opens Friday at the Pictopia Gallery in Emeryville, Calif.

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