14 Apr 2015: Kevin Ou paints with light
‘I was holding the camera – set on long exposure – with one hand, right in the middle of Orchard Road during Christmas, and I was just jumping around like this,’ laughs Kevin Ou as he stands up and waves his arms around like a madman. ‘I had a few friends with me, and they were like, “This is getting embarrassing.” Passers-by were even trying to look into my viewfinder to try and see what sort of photos I was taking.’
The images, if they had managed to sneak a peek, are as trippy as they might have imagined. The festive lights are captured as long, thin and multi-coloured streaks mid-dance – like a screenshot of the iTunes visualiser. ‘I wanted to return to the roots of photography,’ he explains. ‘The word “photography” comes from the Greek words “phós” (light) and “graphis” (stylus). Together, the terms mean “drawing with light”, and I wanted to interpret that literally. Many people do this by moving the light source, but I thought it might be interesting to move both the lights and the camera.’
Entitled Kinetic Abstraction, the series was shot in Singapore, Hong Kong and Nepal, and takes a very different approach from that of Ou’s existing body of work: he specialises in commercial and portrait photography, often of A-list celebrities such as Snoop Dogg and Emma Stone. ‘Most of my shoots are staged and carefully set up, so this is something I’m not used to at all,’ Ou admits.
The prints are shown at the second edition of The Sew-Out Show by tcc – The Gallery, and they’ll also take the form of cushion covers, bowties and other accessories. Visitors decide on an item, then use stencils to trace the outline of the accessories onto a section of the artwork. Local design collective The General Company will handcraft the products, whose prices range from $50 to $180.
‘I love photography and I love fashion, so this is a great way for the two media to combine and be made into something that’s completely yours,’ says Ou.