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.
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.
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.
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: www.lorihepnerl.com.