Bhangra Lexicon or How to Paint with Light, Dance and Technology

Digital technology is more important now than ever. Not only beacause we are under an historical lockdown but because it offers a thousand of possibilities for creating new form of arts. In this specific context, digital technology let us enjoy art outside the museums and from our homes. It is the case of this exciting project in which painting, dance, music, photography and technology merge together. One more plus: it is available to watch online.

Bhangra Lexicon is a visual art project and online exhibition created by dancer Hardeep Sahota. As the word “lexicon” in its name suggested it, it is the world’s first visual dictionary defined by the movement of the dancers. However, the body is not the only tool for “drawing” the letters on the air. In order to see them appear while the artist are dancing, a system of lights make visible the words that make up the dictionary.

At first sight you’d probably won’t recognice the alphabet, and that is because Bhangra has its own alphabet. Bhangra is a music and a dance originated in the Panjab by farming communities. Sahota has documented and catalogued over 300 dance movements and gestures from this artistic expression to create a rich body of knoledge.

But how this kind of painting is possible? Sahota collaborated with photographer Tim Smith to create dynamic images that give physical for to the fleeting nature of dance through the medium of light paiting. Dancers performed key moves whilst holding coloured lights in semi-darknes, so that every nuance of their actions are traced using long exposure photography. Flowign movements translated into bright, almost calligraphic strokes, capturing the individual character of each dance style. In images made usign light painting, the dancer usually remains anonymous in the shadows, with the only focus being on the light.

You can see the online exhibition here: