Dreams. Light. A world just outside our visual conception. Artists have spent centuries exploring these types of ideas through visual art, looking to the ways we can bring the internal and otherworldly into an experience that resonates with everyone. Each of us, after all, have experiences that aren’t simply about the objective world around us, but involve our feelings, spiritualities, emotions, and more.
In general, art about the otherworldly or simply non-visual experiences tend to come from artforms that lend themselves to the abstract: painting, animation, and the like. But that doesn’t mean these cannot be experienced in the more “grounded” of arts, including photography. This is where the art of photographer and visual artist Lucea Spinelli comes in: combining the familiar, the real, with the unfamiliar, the experience outside the visual realm.
Lucea Spinelli’s latest series of photographs, Phōtosgraphé, aren’t photography in the strictest of sense, Spinelli herself, in an interview with Architectural Digest, describes each of the portraits as “stop motion, light painting, long-exposure photography, motion art, et cetera. I usually refer to them as spirit portraits or, as the name suggests, light drawings.”
Each of the photographs, or light drawings, in “Phōtosgraphé use long exposure and light sources to add an element of surrealism to standard photographs. A picture of a swing set at night, for example, becomes a picture of light swinging from an abandoned swing. Seeing the piece brings a number of questions: what causes the swing to move? Who is there just beyond our usual perception? How does our world obscure our objective experiences?
For Spinelli, Phōtosgraphé is a chance to create something that blends photography, moving art, and philosophy into a single experience. “Studying philosophy and politics gave me language to understand realms of consciousness that exist outside our perception,” she explains in the interview, “I see dreams, spirits, and interpretations of the divine as stemming from these realms, and they are what drive my creative exploration.”
Possibly an unexpected side effect of her pieces is how they translate onto the web. Each moving image in Phōtosgraphé is instantly gif-able, as it were, and many of them are showing up online as continual loops of experience. The way her art moves from real world to online experience makes the series one with our virtual selves, which adds a layer to the otherworldly experience the pieces speak to and cause spectators to feel.
Spinelli grew up surrounded by photography, with both her parents working as commercial photographers when she was a child. She “had a camera in hand from a young age” and while she never had formal training, a “childlike fascination” with the medium has led to truly unique results. Like the pieces themselves, Spinelli’s work exists in the fringes, on the borders, and in this space she is able to create feelings in her audience that traditional approaches to photography and art simply cannot.