About the SA Blog Network



The art of science and the science of art.
Symbiartic HomeAboutContact

What Artists Know About Light That Physicists Are Missing

Email   PrintPrint

Whether you learned that light was a particle or a wave in high school physics, you likely inferred that only physicists could ultimately weigh in on the subject. Technically true, I suppose, but there are a number of artists demonstrating quite deftly that light is a medium, too.

Artist Darren Pearson is one such person. Pearson paints with light directly, rather than using paints to reflect and absorb certain wavelengths. This direct method of expressing images with light is done with a flashlight and a camera capable of a long exposure. If you’ve ever seen a night image of cars on a highway where their headlights blur together into a snake-like line, then you have seen this concept illustrated. Pearson sets up at dusk facing the camera with flashlight in hand. He opens the camera shutter remotely, turns on his light and begins to draw in the air. To a passing observer, he must look like a crazy man, flailing wildly about for no one in particular. But when the shutter finally closes, he is left with this:

Darren Pearson light painting

Darren Pearson's Hypacrosaurus, Yosemite, CA

and this:

Darren Pearson light painting

Darren Pearson's Bioluminescence, La Jolla, CA, 305sec exposure, 2012

and this:

Darren Pearson light painting

Darren Pearson's Rise and Shine

And if that isn’t impressive enough, he recently stitched together over 700 of his light paintings to create a stop-motion video of a skateboarding skeleton. It took over a year to create:


Darius Twin: The Light Art Photography of Darren Pearson
Prints for sale
Darren Pearson on Twitter | Flickr | Tumblr | Instagram

Kalliopi Monoyios About the Author: Kalliopi Monoyios is an independent science illustrator. She has illustrated several popular science books including Neil Shubin's Your Inner Fish and The Universe Within, and Jerry Coyne's Why Evolution is True. Find her at Follow on Twitter @symbiartic.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

Rights & Permissions

Comments 1 Comment

Add Comment
  1. 1. verdai 3:29 pm 11/30/2013

    O.. Please.

    Link to this

Add a Comment
You must sign in or register as a member to submit a comment.

More from Scientific American

Scientific American MIND iPad

Give a Gift & Get a Gift - Free!

Give a 1 year subscription as low as $14.99

Subscribe Now >>


Email this Article