Entrepreneur and lighting consultant Thomas E. Farin once said, “Light is the first element of design. Without it there is no color, form or texture.”
While this may seem obvious, light can often be an overlooked quality of art. There are some artists, however, that use light as their primary medium, shaping its intangibility into sculptures that seem to defy physics and push the limits of your imagination. Here are a few breathtaking examples of light as art:
The Torafu Minamo by the Torafu Architects
The Torafu Minamo bends light into a haunting water-like display–without the use of water. Their architects have instead have added a soft reflective material to the floor that then projects external light onto the wall and ceiling. By stepping on the floor, the lighting pattern stays in constant motion, giving you an uncanny underwater effect.
Elliptical Prelude and Chalice by Thomas Wilfred
A spellbinding apparition from the imagination of Danish-born American artist Thomas Wilfred. This piece explores the kinetic abstractions of light through shifting colors and an overlapping geometry. Like the Torafu Minamo, the display is a result of projection. However, it offers more vivid gradations of color and texture, as it is a direct projection from a single tabletop source.
The Aeolian Light by Quays Culture
While offering a more tangible display consisting of 12,000 individually suspended fixtures, the Aeolian Light depends on the lighting produced to evoke images of the windy docks of Salford Quays. This dramatic visualization takes life as the lights change color and the local winds kick up, causing the fixtures to sway as you walk through them.
LASERsHOW by Matthew Schreiber
The term “laser” originated as an acronym for “light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation.” Few art exhibits capture this distinct form of light like the LASERsHOW by Matthew Schreiber. Housed in a 10,000 square-foot exhibition gallery, these pieces can take full advantage of the seemingly infinite nature of light as well as its precise geometry. The above example features an array of differently angled, overlapping lasers, which produce an immersive three-dimensional display.
Octagram by James Nizam
Through the use of programmable lasers, 22 aluminum coated mirrors and a haze machine, the Octagram produces an unrivaled display of geometric precision. Like a rigorously choreographed laser show, this piece gives light the appearance of tangibility, though we inherently know that is just an illusion. Still, this piece plays with your mind, challenging your preconceptions of light in a way that other artistic mediums cannot.
As Thomas E. Farin insisted, “light is the first element of design.”
And yet, it is still often seen as a background element to more tangible mediums such as paint, clay and marble. In response to this general oversight, some artists have adopted light as their primary medium, angling and manipulating its immaterial form in hopes of creating entirely unique structures. Structures with impeccable geometry and limitless dimension, structures that catch the eye and spark the imagination and, hopefully, structures that garner appreciation for one of the most fundamental, yet overlooked components of visual art.