Illuminated Nature: Dazzling Light Art in Fields and Forests

For every human interaction with nature that is sad and destructive, we would like to hope there is also one that is meaningful and inspirational, enhancing rather than extinguishing the beauty and wonder of the woods or the sea. Photographer Barry Underwood creates stunning full-scale light installations in natural settings that exemplify the positive relationship that we can have with the earth, working in a sort of artistic collaboration with nature itself.

Underwood’s light art photography seems to bring out the magic that we already see in the darkness between the trees, or in the fog that hovers above a lake on a cool morning. Each photograph expertly frames a scene, while Underwood’s additions to the composition – whether in the form of light graffiti or illuminated objects placed in the landscape – make them feel a tad surreal.

Building on a portfolio of landscape light art that stretches back to 2007, Underwood has added some new works to his website. “These images are documentations of full-scale installations that are built on-site in the landscape,” he says in his artist statement. “Using illusion, imagination, and narrative, my photographs explore the potential of the ordinary. I approach my photographic work with a theatrical sensibility, much like a cinematographer or set designer would.”

“By reading the landscape and altering the vista through lights and photographic effects, I transform everyday scenes into unique images. Light and color alter the perception of space, while defamiliarizing common objects. Space collapses, while the lights that I install appear as intrusions and interventions. This combination renders the forms in the landscape abstract. Inspired by cinema, land art, and contemporary painting, the resulting photographs are both surreal and familiar. They suggest a larger narrative, and yet that narrative remains elusive and mystifying.”

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