Ghana proposed and UNESCO proclaimed the year 2015 to “International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies.” It is “meant to remind of light’s significance as an elementary necessity of life for people, animals, and plants and thus also as a central component of science and culture. Scientific findings about light allow a better understanding of the cosmos, lead to better medical treatment options and to new means of communication.”
Quite a few anniversaries in the area of optics will in fact be celebrated in 2015. Four-hundred years ago French engineers developed the first prototype of a machine run on solar energy. Two-hundred years later Augustin-Jean Fresnel published his first work on the theory of wave optics. In 1865 James Clerk Maxwell laid the foundation for the electromagnetic theory of light. In 1915 Albert Einstein introduced his general theory of relativity, and in 1965 Arno Penzias and Robert Woodrow Wilson discovered cosmic microwave background radiation and thus evidence to support the big bang theory. Themes of the UN year include light pollution and saving light but also the development of economical, energy-efficient light sources for developing countries.
The International Year of Light addresses not only physicists and astronomers but also representatives of industry, medicine, and architecture, urban planners, artists, philosophers, sociologists, and not least museums. Light has influenced human culture like no other natural phenomenon, they say, and played a formative role for human civilization.
Light in all its manifestations has fascinated philosophers, physicists, and artists equally at all times, shaping their thinking and their imagination. Physically, light has the character of waves as well as particles. Metaphorically, it symbolizes genesis but also stands for knowledge and Illumination.
Glass can absorb light, can let it shine through, can reflect or refract or even multiply it. Perhaps glass is the only material that can change light in so many ways. Not for nothing was it considered a magic matter in the Middle Ages, which connected the visible with the invisible world, the earthly reality with the divine in heaven.
Within Light / Inside Glass
By initiative of VICARTE, the research unit for “glass and ceramic for the arts,” a partnership between the Faculty of Science and Technology and the Faculty of Fine Arts at the Universidade Nova de Lisboa, and in collaboration with the Istituto Veneto di Scienze Lettere ed Arti, the two curators Rosa Barovier Mentasti and Francesca Giubilei invited fifteen international artists to develop works on the subject of light and glass. Teresa Almeida, Mika Aoki, Enrico Tommaso de Paris, Armanda Duarte, Veronica Green, Alan Jaras, Anna-Lea Kopperi, Richard Meitner, Eric Michel, Doigo Navarro, Fernando Quintas, Silvano Rubino, Elisabeth Scherffig, Cesare Toffolo, and Robert Wiley now present an exciting spectrum of diverse works at the Palazzo Loredan in VENICE.
Aurora Borealis: In-situ Light Installation
In September 2014 it opened, the MUZE’UM L LICHT & LANDSCHAP near Roeselare in Belgium. The simple white building of reinforced concrete lies on the light meridian and was designed by the Belgian architect Marc van Schuylenbergh. The deliberately minimalist Gesamtkunstwerk, measuring ten by thirty meters, is like a monumental light generator. Through a well-calculated longitudinal cleft in the roof, which is oriented on the meridian, the light falls into the interior and onto the patio. In the course of the day, the sun rays continuously draw ever-changing lines on the ground and on the white walls, bringing the room to life. In this ambience the Belgian artist Wouter Bolangier, born in Aaslt in 1964, has now set up an in-situ light installation. Besides his own works, which here are characterized by a strong geometry, the exhibition continues to show the monumental work from the opening exhibition Souvenir of the Past by the Dutch architect Han de Kluijver, born in Liedrecht in 1950. An integral part of Bolangier’s installation is the microtonal sound textures of the composer György Sándor Ligeti. The reviver of New Music, who was born in Romania in 1923 and died in Vienna in 2006, became known to a broad public with his composition for the film music of Stanley Kubrick’s 1968 film 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Uta M. Klotz, editor-in-chief, Cologne
Translated from German by Claudia Lupri
Alan Jaras: Refractograph