Artist Spotlight: Daniel Long

Daniel is a master of cognitive illusions and high-tech wizardry. While in some works he combines technology with the art of deception, in others, he unveils the material apparatus of the medium and its ideological constructs. Using the technique of projection mapping, a skill he has refined over the course of eight years, his current project focuses on providing a critique of man’s dependence on machine learning and artificial intelligence .

What exactly is projection mapping? Projection mapping is the process of transforming regular facades, such as industrial landscapes, into surfaces for the projection of imagery. Using light as his paintbrush, brick walls, glass and other surfaces become his canvas. Daniel uses live animation and programming software in order to create complex visual forms, altering various parameters in order to portray the illusion of movement in space.

Daniel was born in New York City to a family of second generation refugees of Vietnamese and Cambodian descent. Decisively, it was when he began to travel that his creative pursuits really took off. He lived in Spain, Denmark and traveled around Southeast Asia before settling in Vietnam in 2011. It was there that he became involved with a close knit artistic community which gave him the momentum to start creating.

He began experimenting with convergences of art and technology and various inter-media practices. While projection mapping usually involves the projection of pre-digitally rendered imagery, Daniel became interested in the ‘live’ aspect of real-time animation. This places the work on another ontological plane. It exists only in that moment, thus introducing an element of performativity to his practice. An example of such work involved painting with dyes onto the surface of an overhead projector; this would then be transposed into live visuals on a screen.

He was also interested in exploring the interplay of audio-visual narratives via the creation of immersive experiences which combined multi-sensory elements. In 2013, he co-founded the company Live Audio Visual (LAV). LAV collaborated with local events and electronic musicians through creating live visual effects. In the electronic dance music community, it has become increasingly common for DJ’s to accompany their music with synced visuals, paving the way for more compelling live performances. However, when Daniel began collaborating on these projects, the idea was relatively new.

But it was the ability of illusion augmented technology to play on his surrealist fascination with magic which intrigued Daniel the most. Perhaps the most apt example of this was his Infinity Box. It was an immersive sculptural installation involving moving LED lights and multiple mirrors, creating the optical illusion of cosmic space. In past events, he has also mapped a series of moving images onto a glass window, as well as constructed 3D geometry such as cylinders and cubes. This involved the technical precision of aligning the parameters of the projector with the object. Laughingly, he says the resulting effect, “really freaked people out.”

Daniel also experimented with the art of anti-illusion. He began manipulating video tapes through bending and breaking the film while it was playing, creating static and rollover effects. This filmic reflexivity, similar to structuralist and avant-garde cinema practices of the 1920s and 1930s, worked to demystify the viewing process, exposing the material apparatus which underpins its production.

In 2016 Daniel moved back to New York, where a talented painter named Cruz was to become his mentor. This was to have a significant impact on the conceptual trajectory of his art. He began to focus more closely on ideas and what lies beyond the aesthetic.

So what now? His on-going projects with Pilotenkueche will take a decisive step away from animation through the creation of a short film. This film intends to explore modern ramifications of technology, while continuing to experiment with the art of illusion through projection mapping techniques. 

Written by: Ellisha Walkden


You can see Daniel’s work in the following Pilotenkueche International Art Program shows:

Elsewhere a Blue Line and the Absurdity of a Ghost on a Stone 

Vernissage: Sat 18 May 2019, 7PM
Open: Sun 19 – Sun 2 June 2019, 10AM – 6PM (closed Mondays)
Location: Kunstkraftwerk, Saalfelder Str. 8, 04179 Leipzig

Wrestling with Impermanence 

Vernissage: Fri 21 June 2019, 7PM
Open: Sat 22 – Wed 26 June 2019 1PM-5PM
Location: PILOTENKUECHE, 2nd Floor, Franz-Flemming-Str. 9, 04179 Leipzig, Germany
Performance: To be announced