Niko Luoma has built his career around using the photographic process as a tool for conceptual thinking. In his most recent series, Adaptions, Luoma draws upon art history to find his subjects for his reconstructions. He has a penchant for searching for paintings that have historically influenced how we as a culture interpret art or have directly inspired him. His choices range from Vincent van Gogh’s still life’s with sunflowers to Monet’s Water Lilies. Luoma’s approach is a subjective rendering of how these selected paintings project their presence. He uses the same negative as a receptacle for collecting each unmasking, as he slowly builds up his image through multiple exposures, using cut out templates as a means of blocking and redirecting light through a series of standard color lenses. His approach is not to duplicate the original, but to interpret it in the spirit of how it was conceived. His images literally grow from the inside out, as he never really knows what the final image will look like until it is printed. Luoma’s art is an exercise between the pleasure from the process of doing and the curiosity of discovering the result.
"I choose my paintings in terms of how interesting they are in regards to the space within them: the direction of the lines and the elements contained within,” Luoma states. He is no longer interested in what is going on in front of the camera, but rather what is going on inside it. The content of his work is all about light as it touches the film. The exposure becomes his dance, revealing the music from which he is inspired. He translates space by using light through multiple repetitions over the duration of time. His work is very much like jazz: "First you compose a theme, then move to improvisation and the unknown, then back to the theme to complete the performance,” says Luoma. Influenced by the experimental music of John Coltrane and Alvin Lucier, he incorporates the properties of chance into the process of his work, using it as his fuel to enhance his attraction to the unknown. The works from the Adaptions series are meant to be extensions of how he feels, hears, and senses his choices from art history. These photographs represent 20 years of Luoma’s experimentations with light as his silent voice.