With a background in working with different materials such as steel, aluminum, bronze, ceramics and glass, Roger Borg decided upon working with neon tubing as his current medium of choice. Having seen a television program on neon, he was inspired to incorporate neon into his artwork. Essentially that’s how his company 419 NEON, which produces commercial neon signs and architectural lighting came about.
Roger Borg received his Masters of Fine Arts in Visual Arts from Mason Gross School of the Arts, Rutgers in 2002, and subsequently attended the world renowned Pilchuck Glass School in the summer of that year. By 2003 Roger had formed the company 419 NEON, which produces custom neon signs and lighting for the trade. He continues his art and design work through his studio, producing original artwork as well as one off and limited edition neon lamps. Roger’s artwork was exhibited at the Museum of Neon Art in Los Angeles in 2004, and his works reside in a number of public and private collections. Additionally, Roger continues his involvement with Pilchuck Glass School as a contributing artist to the annual fundraising auction held each October.
After familiarizing himself with the knowledge and technical expertise in crafting neon lights, Roger set out on his path to further explore his artistic ideas in the medium. He began to return to the foundations and history of neon, using it as a communicative tool to inscribe his own handwritten thoughts. As well, Roger delved into focusing his works on the various available colors. He lined up multiple tubes of neon next to each other on the wall, making large blocks of solid, saturated color. While at first, Roger only employed single colors, he eventually began to look at the interactions of multiple colors. The expert knowledge of his craft teamed with a strong creative background allowed Roger to pursue lamp making as a creative outlet for all the ideas he had. Each series has led him to the next, and he continues to create new and unique designs, both free standing and hanging.
The following are a couple of our favourite lamps by Roger Borg:
This series is Roger’s expansion of neon in three-dimensional spaces, shifting it away from flatness. These lamps trace the edges of three-dimensional shapes, but have no real solid form beyond the contours of their sides. They have open interiors, and only their edges are delineated.
A recent piece melding some of the aspects of the radial stacks’ construction with the porous nature of the open series, this lamp inlays a small triangle inside a larger counterpart. These outer triangles are then lashed together to form a sort of faceted conical shape, which hangs from above, creating a light approaching midday daylight.
The largest of the open series, the asymmetrical character of this lamp foments a certain unease and tension. When viewed from certain angles, it appears ready to topple, while from others its stability is not in question. It is in a perpetual state of both balance and imbalance, and although it’s at odds with itself, it remains merrily content to reconcile this dichotomy.
A precursor to the slant lamp, Roger used this piece to explore the regular shape of a cube. It was a way to begin to delineate and frame an area of space, and although much smaller in size than the slant lamp, this lamp provided Roger the insight to scale up the idea.
The stacked series moves further towards addressing a solid three-dimensional shape. By placing individual hand bent neon components atop each other, a larger and vertical form emerges, growing from the individual layers. Their contours are determined by the edges and perimeter of each individual cross section. Taken together, the aggregate shape of these layers establishes the simplicity or complexity of the object as a whole.
The color stack evolved out of an interest in color theory, in which Newton proved that white light was the product of the full color spectrum. In deference to this, Roger decided to construct a lamp which combined an array of distinct color bands, but which produced and diffused a pure white light.
As its name implies, this stacked lamp was built using the “scraps” generated from the production of other works. These small pieces varying in color, were redesigned to form a lamp with a coherent profile. However, this regular form contains within its shape an orgy of color relationships stretching both laterally and vertically. Each side is a display of myriad combinations of color, which when taken as a whole, produce a wonderfully warm glow. This lamp builds upon the ideas inherent in the color stack, all the while adding a greater degree of complexity to the interaction of color layers.
These free standing floor and table lamps explore the primary colors of additive color theory (red, blue, and green). When all three primaries combine, it forms a white light, but when only two primaries interact with each other, they form the secondary colors of yellow (red + green), magenta (red+blue), and cyan (blue + green). This series provided Roger a platform to explore color interactions, and became a seed from which many other lamps sprouted.
RG, RB, BG
As the very first free standing lamp that Roger made, it was a precursor to two different series of lamps; the radial stacks with their vertical cores of neon tubes, and the color and scrap stack. Specifically, this lamp was a vehicle to look at only the primary and secondary colors of light theory. The central core became the totality of this interaction, which then subsequently cleaved into the three separate combinations that produce secondary colors.
According to Roger, “Implicit in this narrative is the challenge of a core aspect of traditional lamps. Whereas their illumination is reliant upon an interior light source concealed and diffused through an exterior, Roger’s lamps instead generate light directly from their entire exterior surface. The light is produced and emanates from this external shell; it does not hide behind, rather it stands out in front. The need for an interior bulb is rendered moot. The bulb is now the shape, the shape is now the light.”
You can see the rest of Roger’s works at RogerBorg.com