Streaming photons. Electromagnetic radiation. Reflection or refraction, waves or particles, reflected or absorbed. Crafters and artists who play with light make light itself a medium for creativity.
Some of us remember making hand shadows when we were children, or tracing silhouettes. Shadow puppet performances have been popular in SE Asia, China, and India for thousands of years.
Here’s a look at some of the creative ways light is used.
Tim Noble & Sue Webster – “Throughout their careers they have played with the idea of how humans perceive abstract images and define them with meaning. The result is surprising and powerful as it redefines how abstract forms can transform into figurative ones.”
British artists Nobel and Webster have worked together for over three decades. Their work is surprising; sometimes funny and sometimes shocking; always pushing boundaries and challenging assumptions.
Kumi Yamashita – “I sculpt using both light and shadow. I construct single or multiple objects and place them in relation to a single light source. The complete artwork is therefore comprised of both the material (the solid objects) and the immaterial (the light or shadow).”
Yamashita also makes wonderful portraits using thread wrapped around the heads of tiny brads nailed into her work surface.
Larry Kagan – “Winding and welding a tangled web of steel wires, Kagan is able to “draw” with shadows. The focus of his work is not the abstract mass of wires he creates, but rather the shadows that emerge onto the wall when light is cast upon them. His subjects vary from figures to objects to animals and geometric planes.”
Kagan’s interest in shadow art was triggered when he was photographing one of his sculptural pieces. He couldn’t get rid of the shadow in the photo. As he worked on getting an image that satisfied him, he realized that the shadow added to the interest of the picture rather than detracting from it. Over time, Kagan’s work became more and more centered on the shadow cast by his sculptures.
Rashad Alakbarov – “The works of Alakbarov comprise massive installations. Objects, either diverse or homogenous, are arranged in such a manner that shadows cast on a wall, under proper lighting, have little to do with the image of the initial installation. From this duality lies the magic of his works.”
Alakbarov has worked in other materials but in recent years he has focussed on this art form, using found objects, rubbish and other materials to create shadows.
Triantafyllos Vaitsis – “The shape, the size, the colour, the texture, the silence, the noise, the tension, the simplicity, the complexity, the brightness and many more are factors that show and hide messages and thoughts, indicate ways and reveal new dimensions…I build on these thoughts. I make the visible invisible.”
Triantafyllos Vaitsis multiplies the complexity of shadow art by creating two different shadows cast by the same object. He uses motion in some of his works, and creates portraits using shadows.
Yayoi Kusama – “With dots and infinite reflections, the Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama plays with our visual perception. Her enormous installations with her characteristic dots and mirrors are at the root of an increasingly rich tradition of environments in contemporary art.”
Kusama uses reflected light in her infinity rooms to create a boundless environment in which the individual seems to disappear.
Creative inspiration can come from anywhere. I started thinking about how light affects and influences all my crafting and art. And as always I’m amazed at the ideas people have, and how they bring those ideas into the world. It’s so energizing!