Painted Desert

The Painted Desert series grew out of a collaboration with the performance troupe Vessel. Part photography, part costume design, and part interactive performance, the project was commissioned by the Mesa Arts Center. A lot of planning and hard work went into the photoshoot in the Painted Desert. But the real highlight of the project was presenting it in front of a live audience, as did at the Spark Festival in Mesa last spring and will do again this evening at the Phoenix Art Museum.

As a photographer, I’ve presented my images in a variety of formats and venues over the years—magazines, gallery shows, books, film, etc. But this is the first time I’ve used photography as part of an interactive performance. The photographs are projected on people and objects as part of the piece. When we presented the show at the Mesa Arts Center, the entire complex became a moving art gallery of sorts, with images flowing across walls, ceilings, floors, and even people in the audience. As you can see in the photos below, the Vessel performers became living screens for the projected images.

Spark! Festival  Spark! FestivalSpark! Festival

Vessel is the brainchild of Rachel Bowditch, a respected performance artist recently named one of today’s 100 top creatives by Origin Magazine. It was a joy and an honor to work with her. For more about Rachel’s work, check out her website Vessel Project.

Here are a few more photos from the series. For more images, check out the slideshow here.

 

Solstice 2016

Each year at the end of June, Santa Barbara, California, officially kicks off summer with a three-day solstice party. The highlight of the weekend is a parade famous for its whimsical floats, colorful stiltwalkers, goofy performance artists, Brazilian drummers, and giggling kids donning masks, costumes, and painted faces, and of course the amazing samba dancers wearing feathers and sequins (and not much else). The annual event got its start in 1974 and now attracts upward of 100,000 visitors and more than 1,000 participants from near and far.

The 2016 theme, “Legends,” evoked lots of characters from American folklore and Greek Mythology, from Paul Bunyan and Tarzan to Medusa and Aphrodite. There were a couple of floats commemorating the late artist Prince—a legend of a different sort. Santa Barbara Mayor Helene Schneider, donning an inspired airplane costume, came as Amelia Earhart. Inevitably, a pair of Elvis Presley and Donald Trump impersonators made an appearance. And because the Solstice festivities coincided with Pride weekend in cities like San Francisco and New York this year, there were more than a few same-sex couples waving bright rainbow flags.

Below are a few of my photos. You can check out the complete set here.

For the complete set, go to: Santa Barbara Solstice 2016

See also photos from previous years: 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, and 2010

 

Burning Man 2015

Burning Man 2015 Photos by Scott London

Burning Man 2015 will be remembered for the wind, the dust, and the unseasonably chilly temperatures. But it was also a year of first-rate art installations, stunning fire performances, startling art cars, burning pianos flying through the air, and much else besides. It was my 4th year covering the event for Rolling Stone and if you head over to their site you’ll find about 20 images of mine gathered under the heading, See Trippy, Surreal Photos From Burning Man 2015. Some of the same images also appear here (but without the pesky ads!), along with about 80 others that try to capture something of the art, the people, and the performances from an all-around incredible week.

View photos

The Santa Barbara International Film Festival

The Santa Barbara International Film Festival turned 30 this year. The 12-day event—which just wrapped up yesterday—has become one of the more prominent events of its kind in the U.S., in no small part because of its proximity and ties to Hollywood, but also because of its perfect timing—right in the middle of awards season, when actors, directors, producers and other industry insiders are out on the Oscar trail. As in previous years, there were more than a few folks in town who happened to be nominated for Academy Awards and are hoping for a big win at the Oscars. As usual, the festival schedule was jam-packed with screenings, tributes, panels, award presentations and other events. A film-lover’s dream. My photos above represent some of the highlights. (For coverage of previous years, check out On the Oscar Trail.)

Photos from Burning Man 2014

Burning Man 2014 photos by Scott London

2014 marked my eleventh consecutive year at Burning Man. It was as wonderful and enchanting as ever, complete with big art, beautiful people, dear friends, stellar performances, and—of course—wild infernos.

Burning Man 2014 coincided with the publication of our new coffee-table book, Burning Man: Art on Fire, with writer Jennifer Raiser and fellow photographer Sidney Erthal. So in addition to the usual festivities, there were a lot of interviews, signings, and other book-related activities—which seems crazy because the dusty Black Rock Desert is the last place you would want to bring a book!

This year Burning Man started off with an intense thunderstorm, one that actually shut down the event for almost 24 hours. It offered up a perspective of the playa I had never seen before — open desert, stormy skies, and a playground of large-scale art installations completely devoid of people. Thankfully, the weather improved by midweek and was nearly perfect for the remainer of the event.

It turned out to be a great year for photography, if not a great year for me personally (due to an ill-timed kidney stone).

It was my third year covering Burning Man for RollingStone.com. You can view the Rolling Stone set online under the title, “Burning Man 2014’s Trippiest Photos.” I’m not sure how “trippy” they are. (Frankly, I think other photographers do “trippy” better than me.) But I did try to capture some of what the editors describe as “the desert festival’s coolest cars, happiest campers and most mind-blowing art installations.”

I’ve gathered a set of 100 personal favorites from this year’s festivities here on my own site: Burning Man 2014