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Bird Rock resident’s art sheds new light on light

Carl Dutch stands with one his art installations that uses metallic and fluorescent material to manipulate light.
Bird Rock resident Carl Dutch stands with one his art installations that uses metallic and fluorescent material to manipulate light.
(Ashley Mackin-Solomon)

Carl Dutch puts his background as a photographer and an inventor of light-based technology to work in pieces on view at L&G Projects gallery in La Jolla.

Bird Rock artist Carl Dutch has a fascination with light — the way it changes, the way it works, the way we seem to capture it but really don’t.

After a lengthy career as a professional photographer and an inventor of light-based technology, Dutch is now turning his attraction to light into an artistic endeavor on display at the L&G Projects gallery in La Jolla’s Village.

He worked the past few years in his studio experimenting with different media and creating different optical illusions before landing on the installations now on view. The pieces feature metallic material cut, folded and stacked “literally like what is inside a telephoto lens,” he said. It’s also coated with fluorescent material.

Mirrors are added to create a 3D illusion and the perception of projection. The whole creation is contained in an acrylic box that further manipulates how the light is perceived. Despite the appearance of light being emitted from the installations, the pieces do not require power.

Artist Carl Dutch's fascination with light is embodied in his pieces on view at L&G Projects gallery in La Jolla.
(Ashley Mackin-Solomon)

“It’s taking the light from the sky and what is being reflected from the buildings, catches it and the lens magnifies it, so it gets more intense,” Dutch said. “They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but with this, there are a thousand angles from which you can view it.”

He added that he sketches and tinkers with the pieces for years before they are fully fabricated.

“I’m always trying to push the envelope with the optical qualities,” he said. “It’s all about the research and development and seeing every variation of one light and what it can do, but that adjustment is how you get the end product you want. I’m still working on how to get more dimensions; that’s the challenge.”

“I want people to feel a certain sense of wonder and enlightenment and go from whatever is happening in their daily life to a place of inspiration.”

— Carl Dutch

For now, three pieces are on view and at least two more will be hung in coming weeks. More may be created, as the light the artist is inspired by is in abundance in La Jolla.

“I had a fascination develop from living on the coast with seeing how the atmosphere changes the light we have here,” Dutch said. “There is so much inspiration in La Jolla. But a lot of this [work] is inspired by my time as an advertising photographer and using special effects and cool lighting techniques — that was kind of my specialty — and manipulating light.”

He said he would create light-based Halloween shows for neighborhood children and “make it look like the house is on fire or have ghosts all over the place.” He filed for patents on LED products in the early 2000s, including one for an illuminated ice cube that can be put in drinks.

“I’ve been exploring light for a long time — what makes light, how it works, the optics, creating texture with it,” Dutch said. “I really like the contemporary art world but was also into the physiology of light. It creates illusions.”

Of the works now on display, he said: “I want people to feel a certain sense of wonder and enlightenment and go from whatever is happening in their daily life to a place of inspiration. People see different things. Some people get a sense of meditative calm, others see strength and impact.”

A piece by Carl Dutch captures any available light, even in a storage room of L&G Projects.
(Ashley Mackin-Solomon)

L&G Projects owner George “Theo” Theodorakos, who is representing Dutch, said the pieces are a symbol of “where the gallery could be going” in terms of conceptual art.

“The other artists we show are paintings, oils, acrylics, portraits and abstracts,” Theodorakos said. “Carl’s work blows people’s minds away. I put the work in front of the gallery and people see it and come in because they have questions.”

L&G Projects is at 7940 Herschel Ave. Learn more at landgprojects.com. ◆