The Seeping Cascadia Margin

Dancing with Light, Space, and Time

Jul. 23 2018

I am visual artist Lori Hepner, and this is my first multi-day ocean voyage aboard R/V Falkor.  I am very excited about this opportunity to see the technological approach to research at sea, as well as the actual voyage itself.  I am an artist based out of Pittsburgh, PA where I have a studio and am also Associate Professor of Integrative Arts at Penn State Greater Allegheny.

Photographic light painting by Lori Hepner
Photographic light painting by Lori Hepner.Lori Hepner

Painting with Light
My recent art-making focus has been on experiencing excursions across climate-threatened landscapes, and then thinking about how personal experience and memory twists the remembered experiences of these journeys. By combing body movement, my landscape photographs, and LED technology, I have strived to create new abstracted landscapes as two-dimensional photographic light paintings. I have focused these journeys on Northern landscapes, including a 3-week canoe trip on the Yukon River in Northern Canada, a week-long hike with artists through the Westfjords region of Iceland, and trips in both 100% darkness in winter and 24-hour sunlight in summer to the Northern-most human settlement in the world, situated halfway between Norway and the North Pole, Svalbard, Norway.  

Lori Hepner takes in the view as R/V Falkor departs San Diego to begin the journey to map the Cascadia Margin.SOI / Logan Mock-Bunting

Aboard Falkor, I am shifting my focus away from the North, as we will be going from San Diego, CA to Astoria OR. But I will still be focusing on the movement through threatened landscapes, which in this case is our oceans. I will be using the 3D mapping data of the sea floor gathered on this voyage, as well as the path that the ship makes in creating this new work.  

Photographic light painting by Lori Hepner
Photographic light painting by Lori Hepner.Lori Hepner

Expressing a Path
I have brought a selection of wearable LED devices I built. A credit-card sized Raspberry Pi Zero computer plays back images on the LEDs as I move through space. Through long-exposure, digital photography (or my real-time, light-painting projection system), I will be interpreting the path of the ship into body movements. Much like a choreographer, I will be expressing a path through movements that are translated from the route of the ship. I will turn my physical path into an expressive data visualization by using Falkor’s multi-beam data as pixels on the LED arrays, and record these streaks of light within the ship’s compartments through long-exposure photographs.

In prior projects, I have used my light painting techniques to create photographic prints, video pieces, as well as real-time performances with projections. One of these projects can be seen below and on my website:

Intersection*ology from Kendra Ross on Vimeo.


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