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Red Bull Illume Brings Photographic Thrills to Scottsdale Waterfront

The Scottsdale Waterfront is fast becoming one of our favorite places to check out dazzling and eye-pleasing public art in recent weeks, particularly the kind that lights up the night after darkness falls.

Earlier this month, the waterfront and the adjacent Arizona Canal featured such stunningly vibrant large-scale works as the wondrous visual projections of Ryan Griffin's Paisajes de Luz and the illuminated paper boats of Aether & Hemera's floating installation Voyage via the latest edition of Canal Convergence. And over the next several nights, the banks of the canal will host the dramatic and action-packed photographic works of Red Bull Illume.

See also: Canal Convergence on the Scottsdale Waterfront, 11/9/13

The touring exhibition is part of the Illume Image Quest international competition that's organized by the famous energy drink every three years and features some of the best action and adventure sports photography in the world. It debuted at the Scottsdale Waterfront last Thursday and showcases the top 50 shots from the contest.

Each of these exhilarating images -- which capture the over-the-top thrills of such extreme pursuits as snowboarding, surfing, and BMX riding -- are displayed in 10-foot-square lightboxes along either side of the Arizona Canal. Like with Paisajes de Luz and Voyage, the photographs pierce the darkness of the Scottsdale night with glowing artworks that are a mix of light, beauty, and a bit of visual poetry.

Illume, which will visit cities around the globe after leaving Scottsdale on November 24, is as much an exhibition of each photographer's ingenuity, determination, and technical abilities as it is of all of the athlete's stunts.

Red Bull's judges whittled down the winners from an enormous pool of 28,257 photographs submitted from around the world, and each of the 50 that made the final cut are equally stunning, obtained with methods that were almost as extreme as the sports they were chronicling.

Jeroen Nieuwhuis of the Netherlands, for instance, snapped his fisheye pic of his skater buddy Erik Journae while rolling on a board of his own, nearly destroying a camera in the process. Greece's Dimitrios Kontizas to the plunge along with his fellow BASE jumpers Hubert Schober and Kedley Oliveti to grab the skydiving shot.

Some photogs use time-lapse trickery to encapsulate a fluidic flurry of movement, such as Zakary Noyle's remarkable multiple exposure depiction of a complete mid-air flip performed by surfer Gabriel Medina in Hawaii.

Blotto Gray's photograph of snowboarder Jeremy Jones tells an entire tale in a single picture, showing the athlete leaping from a balcony before sliding off a nearby into the waiting snow below.

And Elias Kunosson's brain-bending work featuring freestyle motorcross daredevil (and fellow Swede) Fredrik Berggren roaring through the sky utilized selective blur and forced perspective to give his work a unique look.

Other photos simply illustrate the pure elation and utter danger of each pursuit, capturing motion and emotion into a single evocative image, like Samo Vidic capturing cliff diver Jorge Ferzuli gracefull plunge while passing a soaring seagull.

The clarity and quality of the photo, as well as its almost life-sized depiction in a large-scale lightbox, almost makes you feel like your zooming through the air alongside them both.

Red Bull Illume will be on display along the Scottsdale Waterfront until Sunday, November 24.

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