Artistic expression can come in a variety of forms. From traditional mediums like painting or photography to more unique offerings, such as snow art or, in this case, pyrotechnic art. Such a fantastic, awe-inspiring art form is the staple of holidays such as New Years or the Fourth of July (in America). People of all ages love fireworks. Human beings have been fascinated by the phenomena of fire for thousands of years. Below we’ve compiled some incredible artists that specialize in making things go “BOOM” in the most vibrant of displays.
Bompas & Parr
Sam Bompas and Harry Parr are two creatives who specialize in immersive experiences. In order to ring in the New Year in 2014, the Mayor of London commissioned these two artists to craft an unforgettable experience between the Westminster Bridge and Hungerford Bridge. What makes this firework display so unique? The audience was not only able to see the show but also smell and taste it.
Apple, cherry and strawberry mist, peach snow, and ‘floating oranges’ were all available and on display. The show even came complete with edible banana confetti (WHAT?!). If you’re thinking, “Well, technically all fireworks are multi-sensory”, you are right… however, this was probably the first time in history that specific fruit flavors have been curated to accompany a pyrotechnic display.
London’s mayor himself, Boris Johnson, said,
”A spectacular display of pyrotechnics that you can taste and even smell! Where else but London would you get such an experience? Whether you are getting a sensory overload along the river or having your new year reality augmented at home, our partnership with Vodafone is creating a fantastic first for London, one that will help kick off 2014 in magnificent style."
You can see more fruit exploding in this video than you may have ever thought you would see.
Swiss-born visual artist Olaf Breuning is another artist that is familiar with using various exploding devices in his art. He’s based in New York City and has dabbled in several different kinds of visual art including photography, drawing, sculpting, and filmmaking. Breuning has employed fireworks and smoke bombs in his work as you can see below.
Hailing from the Windy City, Judith Sylvia Cohen, better known as Judy Chicago, is an artist that has had a long and storied career as an artist. She is a feminist artist that celebrates the accomplishments of women throughout history. Her most well-known work is The Dinner Party, which is on permanent display at the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art at the Brooklyn Museum.
In honor of her 75th birthday, Chicago designed and executed a pyrotechnic display that she dubbed A Butterfly for Brooklyn. This event occurred in April of 2014 in Prospect Park in Brooklyn, New York. Fireworks were arranged in the shape of a butterfly to represent feminine liberation and resurrection. Full of sparklers, flares, and plenty of explosions, the performance was a success by all account and another great showing of pyrotechnics.
The unquestioned king of pyrotechnic art in all of its glory, Cai Guo-Qiang is a Chinese artist based out of New York. His father was a calligrapher and traditional painter that worked in a bookstore in China. Like most artists, Cai draws his inspiration from multiple places. He has worked with fireworks and also gunpowder paintings. He undertook his first pyrotechnic projects in the mid to late 80s when he was in college.
Guo-Qiang moved to New York in 1995 with the help of the Asian Cultural Council, an international organization that aids in and facilitates artistic exchanges between Asia and the United States. He had already made a name for himself in pyrotechnic art by this point and only furthered his influence in the arena. Cai says, “The most powerful artwork is when there’s fear.”
Some of Guo-Qiang’s most famous works include Head On, Sky Ladder, Projects for Extraterrestrials, and was also the Director of Visual and Special Effects for the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. Any research on pyrotechnic art begins and end with multiple mentions and features from Cai Guo-Qiang.
Netflix features a film on Qiang and his work called Sky Ladder. A chronology of his work dating back to 1988 can be found on his website, and check out the feature film by Bloomberg below!
We know this is exciting stuff, and while you may be feeling inspired to go create some magic with fire now, please don’t try this at home unless you are an experienced professional! Got an illuminated experience to share though? Comment below!