Modern Art’s Lightbulb Moment


The light bulb has long been synonymous with bright ideas. Many creatives term their moments of genius ‘light bulb moments’.

US photographer Jon Smith, however, has taken this metaphor to whole new level with these explosive images. His project exploring high speed photography sees his fill household incandescent lightbulbs with various materials, before exploding the bulb. The material bursts forth from the shattered glass, with explosion varying from glitter and paint, to goggley eyes and sequins.

Smith says he likes light bulbs as they are so mundane. ‘People see and use light bulbs every day. They’re something we don’t pay attention to,’ he said.

‘By shooting them, having them explode and filling them with different materials creates an interesting juxtaposition that I’m really drawn to.’

The photographer’s rapid response catches on film the moment of explosion. The blank screen (Smith uses his garage as a make shift dark room) behind the bulb becomes a temporary canvass for a very abstract print poured forth from the glass bubble.

The resulting images ooze energy and drama, with many people likening them to fireworks across a dark sky.

In some of Smith’s particularly beautiful shots, the photographer dips the outer casing of the bulb in paint once the material has been inserted; making the eventual explosion a fusion of two materials, propelled from two different angles.





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