LIGHTPAINTING – ATTEMPT OF A DEFINITION
In the meantime, the term light painting describes all possible variations of working with choreographed light in front of the camera, even if, strictly speaking, this is not correct. In its original meaning, the term light painting was used exclusively to describe the painting with light of objects, rooms, landscapes, etc. that exist in reality. The creation of light traces is correctly called light drawing, light writing, light calligraphy or light graffiti. In the meantime, however, these terms can hardly be applied meaningfully to many of the different artists’ working methods. For this reason, the term light painting has become established as a kind of generic term, even though there are and will certainly always be different interpretations and I consider the generic term “light art photography” to be more appropriate. For me, the term light painting describes the work with moving light in front of the camera. During a single exposure, traces of light painted by the light painting artist are recorded, as well as the controlled lighting of the scene and possibly other components. In my opinion, picture montages, collages or retouched pictures are not light painting. That is completely emancipated from the quality of the result. “It’s just another sport”, as my esteemed colleague Stepko likes to say. I don’t want to devalue or even demonise art forms like “digital art” at all. But one has as much in common with the other as marathon running and car racing. Nobody admires a race car driver when he wins against a runner. And it would never occur to the runner to compete against a racing car.
Even if many photographers insist on the opinion that only the result would count, most light painters do not share this opinion. For them, working with moving light in front of the camera is the most important aspect and not the good, quick result concocted on the computer. SOOC (Straight Out Of The Camera) is an important quality feature for most light painters. Ideally, the picture is finished after the shutter is closed and is not edited on the computer.
A painter paints with brush and paint on a canvas until the picture is finished. He does not digitise the half-finished picture, then edit it on the computer until it meets his requirements and then print it out again. The reason for such a procedure in this case would probably be the lack of manual and artistic skills. Otherwise, he could paint the picture without such trickery. Such a painter will hardly be taken seriously, no matter how good his skills in digital image processing and the final result may be. And that’s exactly how I want to be taken seriously as a light painting artist. I work with moving light between the one-time opening and closing of the shutter. Everything that can be seen in the result happened in front of the camera in real time. If the lightpainting is not successful, it is repeated and not corrected later in the warm living room in a comfortable way (non-destructive). I don’t push ones and zeros back and forth on the computer to create artwork.