Light has always fascinated humans, and it’s no wonder that artists have been using it to create mesmerizing works of art for centuries. Whether it’s the stained glass windows in churches, the neon lights in city streets or the projections at concerts, the power of light to evoke emotions and transform spaces is undeniable. However, in recent years, contemporary light art has taken this fascination to a whole new level, pushing the boundaries of what is possible and inviting viewers to experience art in a completely new way.
What is contemporary light art?
Contemporary light art is a relatively new but rapidly growing field of art that uses different types of light sources as the primary medium for creative expression. It includes all forms of light-based installations, sculptures, projections, performances and interactive art that use light as a primary tool to create a visual experience. These artworks may be focused on exploring the properties of light itself, for instance, its colors, intensity, direction, and movement, or may explore the social, political, cultural or environmental issues that are highly relevant today.
The History of Light Art
As previously stated, light has been a significant component of art throughout history. However, contemporary light art specifically emerged in the 1960s and 1970s when artists began using light to create installations, sculptures, and performances that explored abstract visual concepts. This movement is often referred to as Light and Space or California Light because of its origins in the West Coast art scene in the United States. Light and Space artists, such as James Turrell and Robert Irwin, created installations that played with perception and the viewer’s experience of space by manipulating light and color. Since then, the genre has grown to include artists worldwide, with many using technology to create awe-inspiring works that go far beyond the traditional use of light in art.
The Evolution of Technology and Contemporary Light Art
One of the primary drivers of the growth of contemporary light art has been the evolution of technology. Advancements in computer programs, LED lighting, projection mapping, and interactive sensors, have enabled artists to create mind-boggling works that were, until recently, impossible to conceive. For example, Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, a Mexican-Canadian artist, has been creating installations that use sensors to detect the presence of viewers and transform the lighting and sound of the artwork based on their movements. Similarly, Olafur Eliasson, a Danish-Icelandic artist, has been using mirrors, prisms, and light to create stunning installations that explore the way we perceive our surroundings.
Contemporary Light Art and Sustainability
Another important aspect of contemporary light art is its relationship with sustainability. With conversations around climate change and environmental issues reaching critical levels, artists are increasingly exploring ways to use light as a tool for creating environmentally conscious artworks. For example, Daan Roosegaarde, a Dutch artist and innovator, has been working on a project that uses bioluminescent algae to highlight the negative impacts of pollution on our ocean ecosystems. By shining light on these algae, Roosegaarde hopes to spark a discussion around how we can reduce our impact on the planet.