Luminous Creatures Haunt Darkened Landscapes in Hannu Huhtamo’s Dreamlike Light Paintings

Source Colossal  

“Serenity” (2021). All images © Hannu Huhtamo, shared with permission

Glowing swans float atop a lake, a jellyfish-like creature hovers in the air, and supernatural alien blooms spring from the ground in Hannu Huhtamo’s ethereal light paintings, which position radiant creatures among darkened landscapes. Long-exposure photography has been the Helsinki-based artist’s medium of choice since 2008, having spawned a robust repertoire of plants and animals both real and imagined.

As shown in the making-of video below, each completed work contains minutes or even hours of heavily choreographed painting, all captured in camera with no post-production editing. “If I start from scratch, it takes about a week to learn how to draw the new shape with light,” Huhtamo (previously) shares. “First, I want to do some simple sketches on paper. After that, I try to figure out how to do all the elements by using my light tools. I usually divide the form or a shape into sections and then practice each part separately.” Finding the proper location for the life form is the most difficult step in the process because the environment needs to feel natural for the intended creature and be dark enough for the composition to glow.

To create the works, Huhtamo primarily uses various sizes of optical fibers, which give “smooth transparent light trails that have a nice organic texture.” These fibers require sufficient power to be effective, so he attaches them to 1,200 to 2,500-lumen flashlights with custom adaptors. Colored filters in turquoise, yellow, pink, and green slot between the two elements to produce vibrant hues.

Huhtamo is currently working on a few collaborations and commercial projects, and you can find more of his paintings and information about prints on his site and Instagram.


“Imaginary Sea Creature 1” (2022)

Top left: “Âmes Libres” (2019). Top right: “Wild Ones” (2021). Bottom left: “The Bond” (2019). Bottom right: “Risen” (2021)

“New Terrain” (2022)

From the ‘Imaginary Sea Creature’ series (2022)

“Photon” (2021)

“Starmade” (2021)

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