Meet The Artist Literally Tripping The Light Fantastic
Artist Gabriel Pulecio’s Brooklyn studio, Lustix, is an industrial, cavernous space. It was a bit intimidating, but the artist himself was as welcoming as could be. He walked me through the space, introducing me to the other carpenters and artists he shared it with (including a wonderfully fluffy, little pup named Gizmo). However, once he led me into his personal studio, thats when the magic really started to happen.
Filled with flashing lights, big machines, and little bits and pieces of previous projects, Pulecio’s studio looked like Santa’s workshop for ravers. In the middle was his current project, tentatively titled the “Light Collider.” He’s been working on it specifically for Day for Night, a Houston-based festival that mixes music and light. When I walked up close to the piece, I could tell how precise every detail had to be. And it became even clearer when Pulecio handed me a smaller prototype that I immediately broke (don’t worry, he fixed it). Exploring his magical, lit up space, Pulecio and I got to talk about tripping, a music video he did for LCD Sounsystem, and his weird Tumblr that he won’t show anyone else.
You did a music video for an LCD Soundsystem, right?
Yeah! The Franz Ferdinand cover, right? That was through Domino Records, and they did this huge album of Franz Ferdinand’s covers. “Live Alone” was one of the last ones on the record. I knew someone at the record label. I don’t know why, but that was the video that they hadn’t finished. So, I gave them a really basic demo of lights. It looks kind of vintage-y, but it’s all done off a computer. It was fun, and they really liked it.
Were you a big fan of either band?
I like both of them a lot. In the beginning, I didn’t really love the cover like I loved the original, but after listening to it like a hundred times I was like, “This is actually good.” Now I hear it, and I don’t even care. I killed it after doing the video. It’s a seven minute song! It took seven weeks to edit that.
What type of music do you like listening to?
When I feel really stressed, I actually listen to a lot of reggae. I like to just chill. I also listen to electronic music–I like it loud. Nowadays though, I like to chill with my reggae. I’ve also been listening to a lot of my friends music now too. He’s doing the audio for the installation.
What does he sound like?
He does a lot of spooky, kind of dreamy stuff. A lot of drum and bass–a little like Aphex Twin? For the installation though, we’re aiming for scary. We’re going for very spooky and weird. It shouldn’t feel too electronic, more atmospheric. It’ll be mysterious, but also interactive. We want people to get close to it, and the lights will follow you up and down the structure. The light should follow people’s bodies.
Wow, that is so spooky! Do you ever worry about someone, who’s high, viewing your work and freaking out?
I hope they freak out! The installation is going to be so protected. I don’t want them to trip on the art, just trip with it. [Laughs]
Are you a big fan of tripping?
I mean, I have some very weird Tumblrs that make it look like I do.
What are they? Can you show me one?
Oh, I don’t know. They’re really dumb. It’s all really stupid jokes and dogs. It really looks like I do drugs. I have real Tumblrs too, but I also have some strictly for the LOL’s.
Can I put them in the article?
No way! I don’t show anyone these Tumblrs. They’re just a raw escape for me. I don’t want people knowing how weird I get in my spare time. [Laughs] It’s really weird.
How would you describe the work you do here, in your studio?
My current projects are a continuation of what I’ve been doing in motion graphics. I see it as a materialization of motion graphics. It’s mostly about playing with light, and the result of lighting. Normally, I do a lot of things by design. It’s pixel by pixel–every pixel has been thought out. You think, “This pixel is too red. Let’s make it more orange.” Now, I’m sort of doing the same thing, but it really surprised me. It’s these pieces that create an instance of the design. I’m mostly focusing on light, refraction, and some 3D printing.
How did the collaboration between you and Day For Night happen?
It happened through my friend Alex. I met him a few years ago when I was using this very special software. Now, it’s being used in all kinds of installations, but four years ago it was nowhere. He asked me what I was up to, and if I had any new installations, so I pitched him the “Light Collider”…the name is in the works. [Laughs]
I like it!
Do you? It’s like the Hadron Collider. I hope it will look like that once it’s all done. But yeah, they really liked the idea, so here it is!
Were you inspired by the Hadron Collider?
It’s more of a conceptual thing. The light’s not really colliding, but refracting and reflecting everywhere. When light runs through the structure it creates a really whimsical effect in it, but if you just hit it with a focused light, you can really see the light on the wall.
It looks like little light fountains shooting out of it.
Oh really? That’s not a bad way to put it. Once the whole thing can rotate, it will create a really cool effect. It’s like shining a light through a transparent forest. You can see all the branches, but all of the branches intersect so you get a silhouette that contorts. The whole idea idea is about how it is transparent itself, and how light transforms it.
All of your light work really reminds me of some Daft Punk lighting.
Oh my god! The Alive tour that they did actually changed my life! That pyramid changed my life. Every bit of music turned on a light.
Is that what got you into light work?
I was already kind of into it, but it totally changed my perception of how to sync it with music. You never see it that synced. Every tiny beat had a light with it. That show was absolute madness. It was so random. My friend just had an extra ticket and invited me.
Is there anyone else that you would want to do a light show for?
I really love the Chemical Brothers. The new album is great. It’s exactly the same stuff those guys have been doing for years, and it’s still great!
Check out more of Gabriel’s website here, or check out his Instagram here. The Day for Night festival is taking place in Houston, TX on Dec. 19-20. Besides work from Gabriel and other visual artists, it’ll also feature performances by Kendrick Lamar, Janelle Monae, New Order, and more.