LEDs and Polycarbonate Tubes Free Photography from the Picture Frame
Clint Baclawski's 'Light Bulb' series explores what happens when photography and light come together.
Close-up of Chromogenic. All images courtesy of the artist
Massachusetts-based artist Clint Baclawski challenges the conventional standards of photography and plays with viewers’ sense of perception. His Light Bulb series plays tricks on the viewer’s eyes, simultaneously revealing or hiding the image from plain view depending on the angle at which one physically approaches each piece.
Made of Plexiglass, the works are composed of archival pigment backlight prints mounted in polycarbonate tubes which are then slid over LED or fluorescent light tubes.
“The impetus for this new work was born very serendipitously while I was working on an earlier piece,” Baclawski tells The Creators Project. “I was finessing a lot of complex wiring while constructing my own custom-made light boxes and was in the middle of this project when a back-light print fell off my workbench and landed on one of the light bulbs. I looked at it and thought I really have something here! So I wrapped the print completely around the bulb and taped it down and the Light Bulb series was born.”
For the first piece in the series, titled Chromogenic, Baclawski experimented with the way that that “staggering the light bulbs in an up and down pattern” would create a unique, and homogenous, tone in the light. Chromogenic shows photographs of nature in a spectrum of color that shifts from yellow/green to grey to purple/blue. From afar, the piece simply looks like a row of bright tubes in different colors but up close the viewer can see leaves and branches.
Initially, Baclawski started experimenting with polycarbonate tubes and LED light bulbs “out of necessity.” Fluorescent bulbs often died quickly so Baclawski inserted each print into a polycarbonate tube, “letting the surface tension hold the image in place.”
Each work sparks a dialogue among the space, its visitors and the artwork. The artist describes this exchange as “site-related rather than site-specific.” His recent installation of Lush at California Polytechnic State University, for example, was partially guided by the particulars of the space.
“The gallery space there was a perfect 1400 square foot square and I had the image of that fixed geometry in my head the whole time that I was creating Lush— ever mindful of the way that the exuberance of the images I was creating would resonate within the strict symmetry and structure of the gallery space,” writes Baclawski.
Each piece further explores the possibilities of moving beyond the “constraints of a photographic frame.” Baclawki’s work brings to mind the oeuvre of artists like Jeff Wall, known for his light box photographs. Light Bulb Series puts even more emphasis on light and how it can create further experimentation in both art-making and art displaying.
“Light itself is reconfigured. The bulb for me is fresh with possibilities that continue to reveal exciting new forms, investigations and work waiting to be done!”