Lost in the Night: The amazing work of Troy Paiva

The magic night-photography of Troy Paiva is sealed in my head since I saw his pictures for the very first time.

Nice pictures of ruins, forgotten and abandoned places always hold a special interest for me (and many others), but Troy Pavia´s photos are much, much more than that!

Everything about his "night paintings" opens up new worlds in an already forgotten one. New geometries and new meanings unfold within and around his chosen subjects.

Paiva is an "UrbEx", an urban explorer, who goes out of his way to find the ruins of the 20th Century. Abandoned motels, empty swimming pools, forgotten and left behind machinery in the desert, broken neonsigns and junkyards of the apocalypse of planned obsolescence.

This list alone makes my ballardian mind reel, but apart from the attractive choice of his subjects, Paiva´s technique brings new life to these dead objects. Because most of the areas he is shooting at are off limits, he is forced to shoot at night, without bright flashes, without complicated set-ups and with the full moon as his main source of light!

In fact, most of his work is done with long exposure times between two and ten minutes. During this time, Paiva "paints" his pictures with the help of one or two gel coloured flash lights or a strobe. The rest is just the natural light of the moon or the glow of far away cities.

According to Paiva the photos are not treated after the principal photography is done. Apart from minor corrections there is no extensive photoshopping, no re-touching or dark-room gimmicks! They are deep excursions into the art of darkness.

Paiva´s light painted objects almost glow from the inside. Everything is ultra-sharp and lit as if bathed in an alien light.

Broken dashboards of decayed limousines resemble mysterious space-ship-commando bridges.

Dissected 747s, beached for decades, are shining like new under the desert moon. They appear as if they are waiting to be picked up by excentric customers from this supermarket of the bizarre. Unable to ever fly again they now pose vainly for their final close-ups.

Rusty and deformed signs, that have long lost their messages seem to stretch towards the sky like antennas reaching for faint signals.

In my mind I have often designed invsible sleeves to non-existing records with these pictures and I more than once wanted to write a post about his work.
Somehow I could never find the right angle to do so. Tagging a selection of pictures with some Ballard-quotes always seemed too simple, even for my standards.

So I was amazed that the wonderful people at Ballardian found a better way to celebrate Paiva´s work. They tagged his paintings with some Ballard-quotes AND did an Interview with him in which they asked him about his affinity with Ballards work.

Brilliantly naming it The Light-Painter of Mojave D, a clever hint at one of the Stellavista-stories "The Cloud-Sculptors of Coral D" It´s a great read and gives a very good insight in the way Troy Paiva works. Interestingly Paiva´s brother is also a professional "night photographer" and a look at his pictures shows that you can do the same thing without it ever being the same.

Paiva has published "Lost America", a book of his work in 2003 and his second one, "Night Visions" is about to come out within the next weeks. There is also a chance to get a limited supply of autographed copies. Go here for further information and links to buy/pre-order his books and prints of all of his photos!

A sheer endless supply of his work can be also marvelled at on Troy´s Flickr site.
Get lost!

Click pics for large size or visit the linked sites!


A.J. said...

gorge work!
( i ordered the book )

iain said...

astounding work, hauntingly beautiful....