FQ: I created my first light composition in 2012, around the same time I took my first digital-photography class. I began thinking about the roots of photography. When we break it down, photography simply translates to “drawing with light,” and my studies in art history led me to wanting to make a kind of photography that didn’t exist, consciously carving my own path. My experimental practice led me to developing this idiosyncratic language of image-making that blends drawing, painting, and photography. I use my camera like a brush, visually sampling streaks of light from the built environment, specifically in Los Angeles—car lights, street lights, neon, and more. Like a hip-hop beat, I sample light and the electric bodies that move through the Los Angeles night, arranging my kinetic photographs into densely rendered digital photo-montages, or light compositions.
At this point in time, there was virtually no one working with light painting within contemporary photography, so it became my mission to develop this process of experimental photography. From 2012 onward, I built a body of work from these compositions that explored themes of history, place, and migration. One of my most seminal works is A Repetition of Power, which I created around the 50th anniversary of the 1965 Watts Rebellion, and which displays the problematic reality of racial profiling that still exists for Black and brown youth.
My process for this work was essentially developed from scratch, building the composition from fragments of light. These compositions hold an elusive quality, where many find it hard to wrap their heads around how they were created. Each composition contains the movement and abstract essence of Los Angeles streets, as a reflection of lives lived, and my own process of looking for answers within the work. I’ve recently begun diving back into this style of work and exploring the possibility of animating my light compositions and bringing new life into older works. Each piece takes me months from start to finish and is definitely my ultimate labor of love.