Luminescent Environments

Luminescent Environments

Many artists believe in manipulating the landscape in order to examine the relationship between man and nature. For the exhibition A Slight Shift at the Sous Les Etoiles Gallery, New York, three artists –Charles Petillon (b.1973), Javier Riera (b.1964) and Barry Underwood (b.1963) – employ distinct manmade mediums such as sculpture, LEDs and light projections in order to provide poetic interpretations of the environment and propose new images of reality.

Pétillon’s Invasion series injects the perhaps intangible concepts of beauty and possibility into seemingly banal topographies through the placement of white balloon sculptures. The goal of these balloons, the practitioner says, is to “change the way in which we see the things we live alongside each side without really noticing them.” An illuminated, cloud-shaped cluster stands in the centre of a field, where the contrast between the bright light, shadows and deep green creates a scene that is enchanting, playful and threatening all at once.

In another image, an alien structure rests on top of a lake on a clear day, and its picturesque reflection on the surface of the water emphasises the object’s size and potential to create strange, aesthetic experiences. This is one such example that encourages viewers to re-evaluate their perceptions of normative sites, looking instead to alternative spatial encounters.

Through marking natural terrains with LED lights and luminescent substances, Underwood, an environmentalist artist, expresses the immutable traces mankind leave behind. His photographs document sites that the has intervened with, depicting, ambient scenes such as a violet-hued lake in Osaka that has been disturbed by glaring magenta lights and strips of bright blue neon beside fallen tree trunks. The images demonstrate Underwood’s ability to collaborate harmoniously with the environment whilst disrupting its natural order to create surrealist, digitally enhanced landscapes that are reflective of our increasingly synthetic world.

A Slight Shift is at Sous Les Etoiles gallery, New York, until 14 April. More information about the exhibition can be found here.

1. ABDB1 (2013). Courtesy of Sous Les Etoiles gallery, New York.