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Dustin Yellin Studio

Light as an Artistic Medium
Location
Brooklyn, NY
Custom Integration

Introduction

Inspired by the intersection of art, nature, and science, Brooklyn-based artist Dustin Yellin, primarily creates three-dimensional “paintings” that are encased in glass and exhibited all over the world. His signature artistic style is revered both for its tongue-in-cheek social commentary and technical complexity. 

His work has been displayed in such storied spaces as the Corning Museum of Glass, Museo del Palacio de Bellas Artes, SCAD Museum of Art, with featured exhibitions on Los Angeles’s Sunset Boulevard and a temporary exhibit in Lincoln Center with the New York City Ballet. Yellin's own Brooklyn studio also serves as a space to display his newly completed pieces, right alongside his current works-in-progress. 

Background

Yellin’s work is famed for the thousands of intricate paper and painted elements that are suspended in glass, creating what Yellin describes as “frozen cinema.” Each piece is hand-cut from vintage and modern media alike, including everything from magazines to encyclopedias, and then painstakingly affixed to layers of tempered glass. With each new layer, Yellin and his team build upon the work of the past, just as people accrue memories and history accrues detail. The action unfolds in Yellin Studio, where newly installed Ketra lighting is instrumental in illuminating the delicate work.

HubSpot Video

 

“If these works aren’t properly lit, the viewer loses so much of what has gone into each object.”

- Walker Waugh, Studio Director, Dustin Yellin Studio

Challenges

The layers of complexity that make the Psychogeographies so compelling are also what make them a challenge to light. It's extremely difficult to present these works, in part because they're made primarily of glass—a medium that notoriously presents many of its own lighting challenges.

Tempered glass contains a green tint, which can be quite difficult to neutralize—and glare from surrounding spotlights can obscure details. To fully appreciate the nuance of the works, viewers must be able to see with perfect clarity the thousands of tiny elements suspended in the glass that make up the larger work.

The last lighting challenge of the Psychogeographies lies in Yellin’s desire to display the series in the light he created them under: natural light. This preference is one that’s been historically difficult to accomplish indoors at all, let alone seamlessly and consistently.

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Photography: Dustin Yellin Studio and John Frattasi

The Solution

Now, Yellin Studios leverages Ketra’s range, tunability, and precision to realize the artist’s specific vision for each piece. Zeroing in on the right light for every piece and perspective brings their detail to life, enhancing the viewer experience and enabling them to see the “story within a story.”  

Using Ketra, light becomes an artistic medium itself, giving Yellin a new dimension to tune, mix, and play with to display his works as they’ve never been seen. Simple app-based programming also means he can customize lighting on the fly, neutralizing the green tint in the glass or boosting Vibrancy to make the colors more dramatic. This customization allows the Psychogeographies to continue to evolve as artworks, even after the last pane of glass is laid 

With Ketra’s Natural Show, the studio’s interior lights perfectly match the rays of natural light—extending it smoothly throughout the space. Yellin and his team can assess his works under perfectly calibrated natural light or dial in different colors to achieve the desired effect without the glare or fading caused by the sun’s rays.  

This enhanced viewing experience isn’t limited to Yellin Studio. While artists rarely have control over how their work is lit once it’s installed elsewhere, several collectors have opted to display Yellin’s works under Ketra lighting. The elevated experience offered to artist, viewer, and art-owner alike sets Ketra apart, rendering it a preferred lighting method for the pieces, both within his studio or within another’s home. 

“Light is so important. I’m really a freak for light. If you don’t have light on these pieces, you can’t even look at them. Without light, they might as well be destroyed.” 

-Dustin Yellin, contemporary artist and founder of Pioneer Works

Looking Ahead

Currently, Yellin is directing his creative energy to several upcoming projects, including planning for “The Bridge,” a 1,000-foot tall monument shaped like an oil supertanker. The structure stands on its head to serve as a tourist destination, as well as a stark reminder of the perilous results of global climate change. Building upon his repertoire of ambitious, socially conscious projects, Yellin continues to foster a more connected world through his self-founded nonprofit cultural center, Pioneer Works. Since 2012, he’s worked to bring together innovators from across the arts and sciences, and he isn’t stopping anytime soon.  

Whatever comes next for Yellin, there’s no question it will be infused with passion, thought, light, and color—and will be a journey well worth taking.  

This project was made possible thanks to Matt Emmi and his team at OneButton, who served as Dustin’s lighting collaborator and ensured his artistic vision was achieved.

Products Used

S30 Track Luminaire
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