Barry Underwood’s Magically Surreal Photography

Published June 21, 2014
Updated July 22, 2015
Abstract Light Installations

Rodeo Beach, Source: Barry Underwood

Set against a forested, earthy backdrop, the luminescent glow in Barry Underwood’s photographs is startlingly beautiful. Yet the colorful, glowing elements are much more than photographic manipulation. Underwood uses a combination of LED lights, luminescent materials and photographic effects to create each of the abstract landscapes in his work. The resulting images are magical, curious and effortlessly intriguing.

Barry Underwood Wendover II

Wendover II (For John), Source: Barry Underwood

Cornfield Sirnas Farm

Cornfield Sirnas Farm, Source: Art Hopper

Parade Field Colorful Light Installation

Parade Field, Source: Barry Underwood

Underwood Abstract Light Photograph

Miwok Trail, Source: Barry Underwood

Before installing the LED lights and luminescent material, Underwood immerses himself in the location, supplementing his tastes by reading about the landscape and its history. This period of research and experience ensures that each light installation is based on that specific landscape, acting as an exploration of the social and ecological histories that have shaped the land. According to his personal statement, Underwood focuses on community and land-use in a variety of urban, suburban and rural locations.

Orange Abstract Light Landscapes

Orange, Source: Barry Underwood

Underwood is influenced by many mediums, including landscape art, paintings, film and photography. His interest in landscape history motivates him to build installations in a variety of places, from lakes and forests to mountains and meadows. Each individual image tells its own story—some are light and joyful, while others are dark and eerie.

Surreal Light Installations Barry Underwood

Aurora (Green), Source: Barry Underwood

Barry Underwood got his start in theater as an actor and set builder. Yet after taking his first photography class, Underwood fell in love with the medium, eventually graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in both Theatre and Photography. He then pursued an MFA in Photography at Cranbook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. Over the past decade, Underwood has exhibited work all over the United States, earning multiple highly coveted residencies. These residencies often become the locations for his newest artwork.

Earth Engines Series

Source: Radd Blog

If you enjoyed these photographs, you’ll surely love the paintings of these surrealist artists!

Kiri Picone
Bay Area transplant Kiri Picone is a writer and marketer who loves bizarre news and the color purple.