Urban Resonance

A Next Gen winner’s moments of illumination

NASA’s photograph of the world at night shows the borders of our electric civilization in glowing detail. Artist Christina Seely has been following the points on this map around the globe as part of a photographic series called Lux.

She’s focusing her camera on the light of urban centers in regions that cumulatively discharge 45 percent of the world’s carbon emissions. What she captures there are quiet, ethereal images that hover over a frightening message about pollution and resources.

Seely, who is a member of 2007 Next Generation® Design Competition winning team Civil Twilight, will eventually photograph 43 settings. To date she has completed 25 in the United States, Western Europe, and Japan. In each city, she’ll track down a professional or personal contact to help find a location. Whirlwind trips—in Europe she hit eleven cities in five weeks—are tempered by long exposures. A single shot takes anywhere from one to four hours to achieve the best film exposure.

“I avoid shooting anything like the Empire State building or the Eiffel Tower to keep the viewer away from the idea of the post card, or from thinking too specifically about the city,” Seely explains. “The photographs are all titled by their latitude and longitude. There is a key so you can figure out where they are. The idea is that you start thinking more of the unilateral impact of light pollution in the city.”

Through trials like rain in Birmingham and crowds in Kyoto, the late nights have begun to pay off. Today Seely’s large format, limited edition photographs are being shown and are starting to sell through her dealer Jane Deering. Amidst the acclaim, Seely is looking for grant money to complete the series, and hopes to eventually publish the photographs as a book.

Currently Lux is on display at Carlton College through March 31, where Seely recently gave a talk on addressing light pollution in art and design. Portions of the series will also be at the RISD Northern California Alumni Biennial at the Oakland Art Gallery opening March 4 , and at Washington DC’s Project 4 gallery in early summer.

For more information see www.christinaseely.com.

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