Audrey Penven: Dancing with Invisible Light


Model: Trista

“She shimmered, and Laney could detect just immediately below the threshold of consciousness a flow of data….” – William Gibson, Idoru

This Friday in the Bay Area, photographer Audrey Penven‘s first solo show, Dancing with Invisible Light, opens at the Pictopia Gallery. These futuristic images were created by exploiting a property of the Microsoft Kinect game controller. Mike Estee, who modelled and assisted in the shoot, explains the process behind these images on his blog:

The controller uses a computer graphics technique called “Structured Light” to build a depth map of the field of view. This allows the Xbox Kinect camera to discern shapes and ultimately build a skeletal model of the person standing in front of it. It does this by projecting a grid of tiny infrared dots across the room, and reading the position of those dots with another camera. Those infrared dots show up really well on an IR camera as they’re quite bright. Projected against a person, they create interesting contours and patterns.

A community of Bay Area artists, models and makers came together to pose for this series, working together in pitch darkness to craft these images. Penven describes the experience:

As a photographer I am most interested in the nature and quality of light: how light behaves in the physical world, and how it interacts with and affects the subjects that it illuminates. For this shoot my models and I were essentially working blind, with the results visible only after each image was captured. Together, we explored the unique physicality of structured light, finding our way in the darkness by touch and intuition. Dancing with invisible light.

Prior to releasing this shoot, Penven posted some early experiments combining the IR camera and the Kinect. The haunting early sketches have the air of sci-fi surveillance footage, and are just as fascinating as the final product.


Model: Mike Estee

More images after the jump, and many more in large format on Audrey’s Flickr page. The opening reception at Pictopia is on April 1st from 6-11pm, and will feature a musical performance by Doctor Popular and vegan cupcakes by Idle Hands Baking. See you there!


Model: KC


Model: KC


Model: C. King


Model: Ian Baker


Model: Star St. Germain


Model: Mike Estee

3 Responses to “Audrey Penven: Dancing with Invisible Light”

  1. asha beta Says:

    remarkable images, love the richness and sensuality that emerges from the interplay of human form and techno mapping!!
    Brilliant idea and execution!

  2. Vivacious G Says:

    What Asha said. Thanks!

  3. A.J. Fox Says:

    Images are amazing and to think they were partially created by a gaming console, unbelievable!

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