Drawing In The Dark

Most street artists wait for the night to come to begin their performance. Some of then, while acting in the shadow, play also with the shadow itself, leaving a printed memory of an ephemeral shape originally drawn by a road light, or interacting with the shape created in the very moment it is projected. It is a way to have a closer look to the city’s urban furniture without necessarily adding new elements or external, man-made signals. This shadow-registering technique appears to be pretty common between street artists and I would like to feature here some valuable examples.

Surely noteworthy is the work made by Roadsworth, artist featured on Pop-Up City before. He plays with the shadows assuming they are a support for his drawings and so creates an interactive, playful painting, completely visible under only one specific light condition.

Others, like Ellis Gallagher, move their experiments from the streets to into the galleries, where they can experiment with different light positions and have time to draw more complex objects. While many prefer to keep acting quickly in the streets when the night comes, like Zeus in his series Electric Shadow.

Also Michael Neff, a photographer who was featured both on GOOD and Urban Omnibus, makes use of this media: he uses chalk to draw and later registers the final result by taking a picture of it, creating a sort of shadow diary of many American cities. His point of view is, of course, focused on the visual documentation he leaves behind:

“The photograph is an important part of the process, acting as documentation and a vehicle to share the work, so the fact that the drawing is fugitive doesn’t bother me. But I enjoy hearing that people have run across the drawings in person. There haven’t been that many and they don’t last very long, so there’s something special about encountering the work out in the city itself.”