Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Light Painting with the DC Area Reggio Study Group

The DC Area Reggio Study Group gathered at Art at the Center on December 13 for an evening of exploration drawing and painting with light.
Light painting has become a winter tradition at Art at the Center with an annual Light the Night painting event held on the longest night of the year each year.
With this smaller, more intimate group it was possible to explore light drawing as well as discuss some of the implications on learning of this sort of activity.
Reggio-inspired educators stress intentionality and learning from process-based experiences. In this case the phenomena of light movement captured by camera became the provocation for our discussion.
An advantage of this group gathering was the participants' abilities to describe personal experience as well as to reflect on how this might impact our experiences with this media with children.
Below are some of the photos created followed by observations and reflections.

Feeling uncomfortable - this was something new, something never tried before.
Complete misunderstanding of the idea based on the verbal description ...until given the opportunity to try it...then it made sense, the participant had to see and participate to understand.
There was a need to start with the basic idea first and then build toward more complexity, with experience came the ability to predict outcomes.
Another participant found that she had the most joy and delight in just playing with light and movement and that when she tried to think and plan it took some of the joy of the moment out of the experience. She saw a connection to the infants she teaches and their ability to be fully in the moment with wonder and joy.
In our set-up the camera was connected to a monitor for instant feedback. The light drawings were displayed immediately after they were made. It was discussed how the experience might be different without the instant feedback, if, for instance, the photos were not seen until they were printed and brought back to the group.
Based on the feelings and experiences shared above, we discussed how using a medium that is unfamiliar to adults puts adults on the same page as kids and allows them to experience some of the uncertainty and discomfort of trying something new. This sort of activity could be a good discussion starter for a group of parents or teachers.
We also discussed the idea of creating an "alphabet" or vocabulary of light images based on different movements with children. This would allow children to explore re-creating and remembering their experience. In addition to creating a physical record of the movement, they could work from a collection of types of marks made by movements to compose more complex movement paintings.

To prepare for this meeting, we read the chapter "Ray of Light" from the latest Wonder of Learning exhibit catalog by Reggio Children.
The quote below seemed to relate to our own experiences of wonder and joy in this process as well as our reflections on bringing the experience to children and community groups.
Our challenge is to stand beside children with an approach to reality which provides oxygen to and makes sense of the scientific thinking which is already a natural part of the hman species, but which needs to be exercised, supported and informed.
It is therefore important to offer specific and stimulating contexts and situations focusing on the idea that science questions, and is curious about, what cannot be explained by the senses - what lies beyond the visible - and seeks out starting data in order to research, test, and establish connections between things which are un-joined, observe the results and develop further tests and hypothesis.
Reggio Children, 2011 p123


  1. Were u using torches?

  2. Mostly small led flashlights and other light up toys.

  3. How did you photograph these 'creations'? What did you use to get these amazing photos? Please elaborate....THX WOW!!!!

  4. Beautiful light effects. I know how they did this :). I've heard that they are looking for brand new artits on The Artwork Factory. Checkout Here. Look if you found something interesting there also. They have beautiful art collection for sale.