Michael Reid Sydney’s inaugural lightbox exhibition was entitled, Light Years and exhibited in May 2019. The term denoted a long distance; a great improvement and speed.

That long distance refers to just how far the technology has come; from the hot and inconsistent fluorescent tubes; from the heat damaged prints, and from the clumsy, heavy box.

The new LED form of the lightbox finally allows this art-medium to stand beside large scale photographic prints, no longer as a cumbersome experimental box, but a captivating, slimline and resolved mode of presentation.

Photography and photographers have always been great adapters to technological advancement. They have had to move at speed to keep up with constantly evolving benchmarks for capturing and presenting their work. Light Years is attuned to this sensibility, whilst nodding also to the rapid acceleration of the market for contemporary photo media over the last decade.

In the years prior to the launch of the iPhone in 2007, the international art market for contemporary photography could be counted in single digit percentages. Today, at least 50% of all contemporary secondary market offerings are photo media. This Light Years exhibition, the first of its kind in Australia, will provide an additional gravitational slingshot to further accelerate this prodigious growth and development.

Outside of photography artists have begun to experiment with the visual and sensory effects of artificial light over the last 25 years. Often taking their cues from the theatre, these pioneering works included dynamic whole environment light displays which directly involved the viewer. For artist’s like James Turrell, the affecting quality of light on the viewer is undeniable. These lightboxes, beyond a printed surface, have that affecting presence in a room. The illumination heightens our experience of colour, light and detail, resulting in an image more richly experienced by the viewer.

Over the last century and a half, photography and the photographer have literally captured light. Today, the lightbox amplifies and projects that light back outwards to the viewer. The surface of diffused light reaches out to draw people in- just as the golden glow of religious icons has done, for millennia. With Light Years, we stand mesmerised in front of the warm, comfortable light of the new.

Each significant contemporary artist in this enluminure, has selected an iconic image to highlight the colour, detail and visual ambition capable with this new medium. These are Australia’s leading photo-media artists, presented by Australia’s leading photo-media gallery. As always, Light Years ahead.

Michael Reid