Photographer Reuben Wu casts the rust-red rocks of Arizona’s Hopi Reservation in a new light for his Lux Noctis series. Shooting at night, using long exposure times and LED lights mounted to drones, Wu ‘paints’ rocky pinnacles to create dramatic science-fiction landscapes in remote earthly locations that also include New Mexico and California.
He spoke to us about the project.
NB: The location featured above is closed to the public, and is accessible by invitation only
Where did you shoot Lux Noctis?
The project isn’t really bound by geographical borders, but most of the locations are in the US. Having grown up in the UK, I was enthralled by images of the American West as a child so it is always a place I love to photograph as an adult. I prefer more remote locations where there are few tourists about. I lot of the concept is about my own solitary experience in the wilderness so it’s important that I search for these places.
What themes does Lux Noctis explore?
I grew up looking at artists’ impressions of alien landscapes and photographs of the moon, as well as watching films like 2001: A Space Odyssey and Close Encounters of the Third Kind, so there is definitely a fascination I have with our reality exploring other worlds. A goal of this work is to show these places as unfamiliar and unexplored, but at the same time, they are still images of our own planet. It is this blurring of imagined and the real which I’m interested in, which is why I’m also inspired by the painters of the Romantic period.
What makes you decide to commit time and energy to a particular project?
I’m trying to go beyond simply taking a picture of a landscape, because there is too much of it and it takes away my sense of discovery when I travel. As an artist, there is need to create new things and form new ideas, and I see the use of technology to be something which helps that process. It is a fun and exciting way to work and one which I am very interested in. In the end you need to have inherent interest in what you do.
When you travel, what kinds of destinations do you enjoy most?
I travel a lot for work. The more remote and faraway, the better!
Do you try to send a message with your artwork?
I think the message in my work is layered with personal meaning but it is deliberately implicit. As an artist, I’m trying to articulate a vision which is not set in a fixed timeframe or location, so it’s definitely not a simple documentation of events.