This video shouldn’t affect me. It’s a snowboarding movie–the stuff of X Games and energy drinks–and the snowboarder is even wearing some crazy head-to-toe bodysuit covered in thousands of LEDs.
But whatever alchemy photographer/director Jacob Sutton mixed with his two RED cameras over three “long nights” in the French Alps transcends any expectations you or I may have had about snowboarding videos. His piece is called Glowing Man, and it captures a graceful yet vulnerable subject, carving his way through the trees in the dark.
“I never really worried about it looking absurd,” Sutton tells Co.Design. “You always worry about whether something is going to be visually powerful…I spend a lot of time wandering around or staring into space trying to visualise these things in advance, but you never know how well they are going to work.”
The piece was a gamble. The Glowing Man suit, created by John Spatcher of Flatcat Consultancy, took 700 man hours of fabrication and testing. Then it had to be worn in temperatures reaching -13F. On top of that, much of the footage was captured at high speeds by a cameraman who was on a snowboard (at night) himself.
But the result is something unlike any video–let alone any snowboarding video–I’ve ever seen. The suit becomes an extension of the character that, by illuminating the powdery bursts of snow in his wake, is tied at a very intrinsic level to his environment. Glowing Man feels like he couldn’t exist at any other place or in any other time. He’s a lone ghost haunting this one mountainside.
“I guess it is quite a lonely piece,” concedes Sutton. “I’m not sure it’s lonely in a sad way, though. For me it has a more haunting soulful quality.”