Thinking about Color and Light

Hayward Gallery Light Show

I’m envious of Londoners for many reasons, this is one of them. These are images of the Light Show, an exhibition currently on view at the Hayward Gallery until the end of April. The show presents the work of artists generated over the past fifty years, all using light to create a variety of stunning effects. There’s just something about light that is so alluring. Even when it isn’t warm and inviting, it can still be captivating… like when it’s saturated and immersive as it is in several of these installations.

Hayward Gallery Light Show

Hayward Gallery Light Show

Sometimes I think that works like these have influenced the expression of architecture. But it’s not exactly the same and it’s not always done very well. There are beautiful and responsive facades (like James Carpenter‘s “Light Podium” at 7 World Trade Center) and there are also some decidedly less sophisticated uses. I think many architects are moving away from a trend in the aughts to plaster everything with LEDs. “Imagine it, boys: you’re not just staying at a hotel off the highway, you’re staying at a hotel off the highway that can change color!” Do we really need parking garages or sneaker stores to gently cycle through the visible spectrum?

But there’s still something about light and color, and the way they interact. It’s why this game is so fascinating, why these lightbulbs can get away with being so expensive, and why this installation in London is selling out daily. The visible spectrum excites our retinas, and we don’t even have to think of how to respond. We just open our eyes and look, the wavelengths of light sloshing around in our brains will do the rest.

Found through We Make Art, Not Money

February 22, 2013 / By