What happens when you put LEDs on a professional snowboarder? You get this incredible, haunting video from Jacob Sutton.
You know, the thought hadn’t occurred to me while I was watching and swaying hypnotically to filmmaker/fashion photographer Jacob Sutton’s video of pro snowboarder William Hughes going down the French Alps in a suit entirely decked out in bright LEDs, but holy mackerel! He’s snowboarding in the middle of the flippin’ night!
Isn’t that like super dangerous? How do you not hit a tall pine tree or veer Wily Coyote-style off a high cliff while doing something like that?
Perhaps those questions won’t be of much worry if future snowboarders have the kind of illuminating outfit Hughes is wearing, which took suit-designer John Spatcher around 300 man-hours to create. In fact, the design process went through a few ideas, including a first rough draft that used passive reflectors and a tracking mobile light source – sort of like bouncing the Sun’s rays with a magnifying glass as you toast sidewalk ants (don’t do that kids, it’s not nice.)
Ultimately, that plan was scraped in favor of LEDs. A convenient light source that better keeps its contrast and illumination, especially for a snowboarder furiously crashing through snow at more than five miles per hour.
As for the concept to this video project, Jacob Sutton, whose own previous work has been in The New York Times, had this to say on Facebook: “I was really drawn to the idea of a lone character made of light surfing through darkness,” says Sutton. “I’ve always been excited by unusual ways of lighting things, so it seemed like an exciting idea to make the subject of the film the only light source.”
Seeing how Sutton had to endure icy temperatures of -25 Celsius (that’s -13 degrees blow freezing in Fahrenheit for us true red-blooded Americans) riding a Ski-doo just to film his subject, William Hughes – even going as far as enlisting his own father to help repair the LED suit whenever it came undone at the seams – he accomplished it with flying colors. It’s a great video – and a strangely beautiful one at that.