Painting With Fireworks
Amateur photographer David Johnson has been getting a lot of much-deserved attention lately for his beautiful long-exposure photos of fireworks.
By carefully refocusing over a second or two of exposure time he was able to capture these explosions with a stunning, painterly grace.
This technique required Johnson to carefully time his adjustments by using the sound of the launch as his cue. He explains his process in detail here.
These photos reminded me of some other visual artists who also work in pyrotechnics. Rosemarie Fiore paints with burning fireworks using the incendiary residues as her media.
Fiore uses live ground blooms, jumping jacks and other consumer fireworks which she carefully controls with wooden templates, buckets, and brushes during combustion.
The final works are often large-scale collages of many explosions, finished with burns and spatterings of sparks.
Chinese artist Cai Guo-Qiang creates enormous site-specific pieces that are as much performance art as visual. Guo-Qiang lays down exacting stencils of gunpowder and fuses over rice paper. Layers of hemp paper, wood, rocks are layered over the gunpowder in order to control or contain the smoke and flame where necessary.
An artist working in many media Guo-Qiang first experimented with gunpowder paintings as a reaction to the more staid Chinese artistic traditions (such as ink painting) which he despised as a student. Guo-Qiang now says that he appreciates his training in these techniques - and these highly controlled techniques are evident even in these very spontaneous works.
Guo-Qiang’s work blends destruction and creation, physics and meta-physics, the instantaneous explosion and unfathomably ancient minerals used in gunpowder. He often extemporizes on the dual nature of this work, how it is it to capture antiquity in a few fleeting seconds. This film shows the creation of Sky Ladder,a site-specific work at MOCA.
Cai Guo-Qiang: Sky Ladder from Antony Crook on Nowness.com.
Artworks from top down: Efflorescence #4, Efflorescence #22, Untitled, Firework Drawing #21, Firework Drawing #58, Touring Mountains, and Tree with Yellow Blossoms,