In a world veiled in obscurity, where unpredictability and disorder hold sway, the entrancing radiance of light invites us to discover the brilliance within ourselves. Journey into the enchanting realm of “Luminescence,” where the celebrated artist Christy Lee Rogers, renowned for her awe-inspiring underwater photography, embarks on a spellbinding adventure that defies the limits of art, science, and spirituality. Prepare to delve into the enigmatic depths of her creations, where you’re warmly invited to explore the harmonious fusion of human vitality and the concealed energies that swirl around us.
Can you discuss the sources of inspiration underlying your “Luminescence” collection and provide insights into what drew you to underwater photography for this body of work?
I’ve always been captivated by light: its weightless beauty and power. So I delved deeper into the physics and symbolism behind it and was inspired by light’s association with spiritual freedom, health, healing, and goodness. Not to mention its role in the creation of life on our planet through photosynthesis.
Recently, I’ve conducted extensive research on the electromagnetic spectrum, contemplating the wavelengths of energy that surround us every day but remain invisible to the naked eye. By using water as my central artistic tool and underwater flashlights, this collection started to transform into a magical realm that I yearned to explore. It served as a way to escape the chaos I witnessed in the world and to question our capacity to change it in a different manner.
Your artistic creations have often been compared to the aesthetics of 16th-century paintings. Could you elaborate on the techniques and motivations that enabled you to infuse your underwater photographs with this evocative painterly quality?
When I capture images from outside of the water in pitch-black night, a refraction (bending) of light takes place. Light travels slower in the water than in the air, allowing me to achieve a soft, painterly feel when I precisely capture the image in sync with the movements. This was never my original motivation but rather a discovery along the way. It later became an obsession to see how far I could push it, akin to a physics and movement experiment. 16th-century art lies at the core of my identity. I had to come to terms with this because I grew up in Hawaii, as a surfer girl with little knowledge of European art. However, I felt it deep in my bones: a passion for dramatic movement, freedom, and beauty. These themes intensely motivate me, not just in art but in my life.
The title of your collection is “Luminescence.” Could you share your personal interpretation of this term and explain its connections to the overarching themes and concepts explored within your body of work?
Luminescent materials, as we observe in phenomena like fireflies, lightning, and the Aurora Borealis, possess the unique ability to transform invisible forms of energy into visible light without the need for heat, such as that generated by the sun, incandescent light bulbs, or burning wood or coal.
In “Luminescence,” the energy source elevates the atoms of the material into an excited state. Since these excited states are inherently unstable, they are released from the material as light.
While we grasp the principles of physics governing the material universe, we often fail to fully comprehend the energy production within ourselves. We tend to believe only in what we can see, but this wonder illustrates that energy permeates our surroundings and exerts an influence on material forms, quite possibly including our bodies and minds. For instance, if I were to spend my entire day at home, anxiously watching the news and worrying about the possibility of war, would I be generating an energy field that someone else could pick up on, a field that could traverse the world?
Our fascination with artificial intelligence is notable, but it may appear somewhat premature when we have yet to explore our own untapped potentials.
These questions and contemplations are an integral part of my creative journey, guiding me in the exploration of existence and humanity.
Water plays an integral role in shaping the dreamlike and ethereal quality of your art. How do you strategically employ water as a visual element to convey emotional depth and thematic richness in your artistic creations?
I’ve chosen water as the primary creative element in my images. It possesses a life force of its own, serving as the fundamental building block of all life. Water wields the power to transform everything in its proximity. Through experiments involving movement and light, it places both me and my models in a vulnerable state of chaos. By navigating this chaos to discover moments of peace, we can achieve an emotional depth that would be impossible to capture without water. This, in essence, encapsulates the overarching theme of my creative journey – the exploration of life and the quest to find peace amid chaos.
Underwater photography presents distinct challenges, particularly regarding lighting and composition. Could you shed light on some of the technical intricacies involved in producing your captivating images?
Strangely enough, being underwater is quite unnatural for the human body. Adding to the challenge for the models, I often shoot at night to create complete darkness for the lighting effect. Typically, there is a specific zone of light that I guide the models to position themselves within, but with their eyes closed, it can be hit or miss. As a result, the compositions and lighting become more of a sculpting process as we proceed. It truly demands patience and the perseverance not to give up when it seems all is lost. In this collection, I introduced the use of high-powered underwater flashlights, which turned out to be more challenging than I initially anticipated. Faces would sometimes get lost in the intense light and become overexposed, necessitating some practice to control the light intensity properly.
Striking a balance between traditional artistic methods and contemporary technology is a common challenge in the realm of art. How do you navigate this equilibrium, particularly when crafting artworks deeply influenced by historical art styles?
Most of the time, I don’t consciously ponder it but rather let it unfold naturally, feeling my way through the creative process. The moment I begin overanalyzing the significance of it all, I lose my path. I firmly believe that art should be unrestricted and should not be bound by any particular method or technology. What I aim to convey is a timeless concept—the sensation of freedom and liberation from the various constraints that weigh us down, and the realization that we are far more than we ever imagined. The spirit of the Renaissance lives on.
In your capacity as an artist, what specific messages or emotions do you hope to evoke in those who encounter your “Luminescence” collection?
For the “Luminescence” collection, my hope is to transport the viewer into another realm of magical color and light, igniting the urge within us to create our own Luminescence.
Your career has garnered international recognition and prestigious accolades, such as the Open Photographer of the Year at the 2019 Sony World Photography Awards. How have these achievements influenced both the trajectory of your career and the evolution of your artistic journey?
These accomplishments have undeniably expanded my opportunities for worldwide exhibitions and engaging in more substantial projects and commissions. I’ve had the privilege of meeting many remarkable individuals along this path, for which I am immensely grateful. I firmly believe that my artistic journey is just commencing.
Are there any upcoming projects or thematic directions that you are eager to explore in your future creative endeavors?
Yes, I have several significant projects in the pipeline, and my notebooks are brimming with fresh ideas that I’m constantly thinking about, hoping to find time for. I’m enthusiastic about commencing work with the charity Save the Children on a new program, as well as conducting test shoots using a new camera in an ocean setting. Moreover, one of the things that currently excites me the most is a newfound interest in drawing and sketching, which seemed to emerge out of the blue.
As an accomplished artist in your field, what valuable guidance or recommendations would you offer to emerging photographers and artists who aspire to cultivate their own unique style and make a significant impact in the world of art?
Follow your heart and stay true to yourself. Maintain your integrity and, at times, release your inhibitions to allow yourself to become the best version of who you are. Lastly, never cease creating and learning.
Who is Artist Christy Lee Rogers?
Christy Lee Rogers is a visionary artist who submerges herself in the realm of underwater photography and videography, creating captivating imagery. With a virtuoso command of Chiaroscuro lighting techniques, her work conjures comparisons to the luminaries of the Baroque era, none more so than Caravaggio himself. In 2019, her exceptional talents were celebrated as she clinched the esteemed title of Open Photographer of the Year at the Sony World Photography Awards, firmly establishing her as a powerhouse in the realm of photography.
Her remarkable talents have earned her the distinction of being a two-time finalist for the prestigious Contemporary Talents Award from the Foundation François Schneider in France, highlighting her worldwide acclaim. What’s even more captivating is that her exceptional skills captured the attention of Apple, leading to a unique commission to create mesmerizing underwater imagery with the iPhone 11Pro. This groundbreaking collaboration not only featured her work but celebrated it in captivating behind-the-scenes process films produced by the tech giant, thrusting her extraordinary artistry into the spotlight.
Beyond photography, her artistic touch resonates in unexpected places. The music industry felt her magic as her enthralling artwork graced album covers, including the iconic “Orchesography” for the 80s sensation, Wang Chung. Her talents extended to the stage as well, where her images illuminated the 2013-2014 performance season of the Angers-Nantes Opera in France, highlighting the boundless scope of her creativity. In a remarkable milestone, she crafted the cover image for the 2021 Lavazza Calendar, a masterpiece titled “The New Humanity,” solidifying her standing as a celebrated and versatile artist, transcending mediums and captivating audiences worldwide.
If you want to be at the forefront of Christy Lee Rogers’ latest artistic endeavors, be sure to join her vibrant community on Instagram.