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Lightpainting is an art form developed by artist Stephen Knapp and introduced in 2002. Lightpainting (one word) is not to be confused with light painting (two words), the latter of which is a photographic process recording traces of light on film or digital media to create images that must be reproduced in printed or transparency form. Lightpainting uses white light projected in space through specially coated glass that breaks the light into bands of color, producing optically complex virtual 3D images that sit at the intersection of painting and sculpture. Lightpaintings can take the form of moveable wall-mounted panels but the most spectacular effects are achieved in large-scale architectural installations. Layers of metallic coating are applied to glass pieces to refract and reflect colors, which becomes the palette to be used as pure chroma or mixed into a wide spectrum of colors. Glass is cut into various sizes and shapes that determine planes of color and other elements that can be used much as in traditional painting or sculpture.
Art critic Vince Carducci states:
“The lightpaintings can and should be situated within the lineage of recent art. The optical tour-de-force of much of the work establishes its affinity with the eye-bending paintings of Op Artists such as Bridget Riley and Victor Vasarely. And yet the more serene passages, in which translucent color washes over veils of other translucent color, evoke the lyrical abstractions of less-hyperactive modernist masters such as Morris Louis and Helen Frankenthaler. Perhaps the most appropriate forebears are the examples of Zen-like perceptual presence achieved by California Light and Space artists such as Robert Irwin, James Turrell, and Eric Orr. But [lightpaintings] can be distinguished from all of these...in [the] use of light purely in and of itself not as a collateral effect of pigment or architectural structure.”