When you ask urban art enthusiasts about the combination of light painting and graffiti, the names of Bond Truluv and Florian Krause will for sure get mentioned a lot. This duo makes an interesting pair, because Florian has more of a traditional photography background, while Bond is known for his funky fresh styles. In that sense they represent the best of both worlds. As light painting is becoming a bigger part of urban art every day, we sat down with these two light Germans to get their thoughts on this new medium, and their upcoming duo show Neon Nights at the Name Gallery in Amsterdam.
– By Alexander Pope
Instead of you guys introducing yourselves, we would like to ask you to introduce each other. Florian, let’s start with you: how would you describe Bond Truluv as a person and artist?
Florian: Bond is a very easy-going person with a good sense of humor, not taking himself too seriously. In comparison, he’s very serious about his art. I have followed him chasing his style for years now, and it’s just stunning how he develops. You can always identify his unique style. As important as his style, is the spots he hits. If you read his CV, you see that his claim is much more than writing letters. There is a kind of philosophy behind his pieces corresponding with their surroundings. From a photographer’s perspective, he’s doing 1A in this subject. He’s improving skills in light painting, and he knocks my socks off with each new picture. Distinctive style at mind-blowing spots combined with light painting – all in one person, that’s Bond.
Distinctive style at mind-blowing spots combined with light painting – all in one person, that’s Bond.
Bond, how would you describe Florian in return?
Bond: Florian seems to be a very dedicated and well versed photographer who not only knows his tools but also has stepped beyond classic modes of photography, experimenting with the basic fundamentals of it, pushing it to a highly advanced level with a very own look and feel. In his well balanced compositions the elements and layers he adds actually interact with the murals and surrounding elements, changing the whole atmosphere according to his own imagination, creating a surreal, dreamy version of the actual graffiti wall he´s corresponding with. The outcome looks absolutely natural, creating a perfect illusion, where the different walls glow in the dark as if they’ve never done anything else in the first place. With Florian’s work you will find yourself getting lost in this abstract parallel world, dissecting all the elements of his images, shaking your head and wondering “How did he do that!”. He seems to really enjoy his profession in a very passionate way, traveling long distances, meeting up with different artists to collaborate and interchange, always looking forward to shoot more walls.
For those that don’t know, how does light painting work exactly?
Florian: Light painting is a photographic technique in which exposures are made by moving a hand-held light source in front of the camera. You put your camera on a tripod in the dark, open the shutter and each ray of light that moves in front of the camera will be frozen by the camera sensor. Pure light painting means you paint something with light. In our works this is slightly different, as we use torches and other light sources as brushes to light-up the wall. Sometimes we also add more traditional light painting.
Bond: You either do the math and calculate all the right shutter speeds for the given light-scenario on the spot or you find it out through trial and error. My camera offers a maximum of 30 seconds of predefined exposure but there is also the bulb function – with which I’m still struggling – that offers unlimited exposure. If you expose too long, and/or add too much light, the image will be overexposed and you get white noise. In other words, its screwed and you spent some minutes and battery power for a bad pic. For me, it was always a lot of trial and error and especially when it comes to the hand-held light sources there is a lot of experimenting going on, tinkering new glow-stuff, trying new flash lights, etc.
What can you tell the people about the history of the mash-up between light painting and urban art?
Bond: Actually, from my perspective Florian is the history. Pure light painting goes way back with people like Rezine doing a lot of crazy stuff in this field. But the merge with actual paintings and light brushing as supportive or enhancing effect came from Florian. Between 2005 and 2008 I spent a lot of time painting in abandoned industrial areas and at some point the spots in the well-lit top floors became scarce so I moved down into the sometimes 2-3 stories deep basements. Plenty of walls there, and a somewhat interesting atmosphere to paint as well. To take a photo of the finished piece, I used my torch and long exposure shots. Back then I only had a small half-automatic Sony (W15) and later a Canon G10 and I had problems to get the focus right, so it never really worked out the way I wanted to. When I got a SLR last year I had forgotten about the earlier attempts. Once I saw what Florian was doing, I felt inspired to finally realize the ideas I had had some years before.
With Florian’s work you will find yourself getting lost in this abstract parallel world, dissecting all the elements of his images, shaking your head and wondering “How did he do that!”
Florian: Well, for me, I saw that combi first done by infamous light painter TCB around 2008. He light brushed some dirty pieces in tunnels where he did his sick light painting stuff. At that time, pure light painting started to bore me, so that was great inspiration. Fortunately, the Meeting of Styles event just happened in my hometown, which was a big playground for me. Photographer Luna Park used that technique as well for shooting the first Underbelly Project 2010 in New York. It’s just a great technique for spots where you can’t bring much light equipment, and the result looks like it was done with a big light set and maybe even more. So by my count, we were the only 3 people I knew back then. Today, I can’t even count the amount of the photographers combining these two art forms.
Light painting itself is a form of ‘street art’ – in the broad sense of the word – yet the viewers can never witness it in the streets themselves, the final result can only be seen through photography. In that sense, it takes up a weird space in the urban art scene. What is your take on that?
Florian: What both art forms have in common is that photography is the medium to document the art forever and make it visible to the internet. But for me that’s almost it. The essence of Urban Art is to be seen by as many people as possible in public and to beautify the city with some color. That’s not the case with light painting. Good street art with clever placement also provokes a direct reaction. Even if the main audience for street art changed in the past years from the people in the streets, to the internet audience – light painting and Urban Art have different fans in my mind.
Florian, you have worked with some of the biggest names in graffiti and street art. What are you looking for in a piece in order for you to combine it with light painting?
Florian: I always need a special light-inspiration in it, which I can pick up to compliment the piece. Motivated ground lighting is very important to me, so the wall seems to glow. Just lighting the wall doesn’t count for me. It’s hard to generalize, but ideal walls are bright paintings with highlights on dark backgrounds. And rotten spots are always welcome!
Bond, do you feel the same about your pieces? Is there always a preconceived notion of light painting when you are rocking your styles is it more of an afterthought?
Bond: Well, it started as a necessity to take a proper photo of my piece. Usually you spent a lot of time and resources on a wall that you will in most cases never see again, so I always took proper care to take a good photo home with me. When I found out about the technical possibilities it was like a whole new toolbox opening up. So many new and vivid effects! Lately I plan my pieces and the spots according to light painting aptitude. The lights are part of the toolbox now and I take them along like I take spray paint with me.
We want to give an overview of the pantheon of light-painting as it is as of now, coming from our perspective.
How did you guys end up doing a show together?
Florian: When me and Peter Ernst Coolen from Name Gallery in Amsterdam were talking about a light paint-photography exhibition, we thought Bond just couldn’t be missed.
Bond: Florian and I had been in touch via email planning a collaboration and exchanging photos and questions for some time before, so I was particularly happy when him and Peter invited me. I think it makes perfect sense and the time is now.
What’s the inspiration behind the works in the show?
Florian: To raise the level and compliment the pieces with light effects without getting cheesy. It’s definitely worth coming.
Bond: I prepared a bunch of new works, showcasing the latest techniques along with some classic images. We want to give an overview of the pantheon of light-painting as it is as of now, coming from our perspective.
How do you see the future of light painting in combination with urban art?
Florian: It strikes me that more and more photographers try it, that’s good. It’s about going out at night and have a good time and be creative. And when so many people do it, it will generate classy work for sure. I will go on doing it as long as there are new walls. Thanks to all writers for inspiration!
Bond: I see it’s spreading out, more and more people use it to highlight their work. From my point of view there is still a lot of space for innovation and I hope to see more people using it up to its potential.
Wanna see more of Florian Krause and Bond Truluv? These two style pushers have a duo show coming up at the Name Gallery in Amsterdam. The opening will take place on September 19th from 17:00 – 20:00. Visit the gallery blog at www.thisisname.com for more info or check the event page.
The full interview will be published in Street and More Magazine #3. Available here from September 27.
More on the web
Case x Herakut lightpainting video by Florian Krause