Light in contemplation

Aggiornato il: 5 lug 2019

Contemplation is an important theme in my work. During my research I discovered the work of a light artist, Thomas Wilfred, who created light compositions that encouraged contemplation from the viewer, in the same way one might stop in a gallery and view a painting, allowing the themes and colours to wash over you..

Thomas Wilfred, one of the most important artist of mobile coloured light installations, began his experiments in 1905 .

He invented a kinetic machine where a rotating element with a tungsten-filament incandescent lightbulb which was positioned underneath a glass disc which was painted in very loose brushwork and graffito to manipulate the design pattern. This was controlled or “played” with a manual instrument. He sought to capture the essence of light as “part of the universe in flux...and therefore motion is a necessary dimension” and portray it as such: an ephemeral energy, unyielding and constant. (

This ephemeral nature of light as explored by Wilfred is the antithesis of the static classical arts, the tightly bound atoms of a marble statue compared to Wilfred’s free-flowing photons. Wilfred produced works in a variety of sizes from works designed at exhibition scale to one of the rare examples of Light Art designed for a domestic context, the Junior Clavilux.

Thomas Wilfred, Unit #86, from the Clavilux Junior (First Home Clavilux Model) series, 1930. Metal, glass, electrical and lighting elements, and an illustration-board screen in a wood cabinet. Carol and Eugene Epstein Collection

Thomas Wilfred's Lumia compostions Opus 140

In 1939 Wilfred tested a mobile Rorschach to study schizophrenia collaborating with a psychologist at the Payne-Whiney Psychiatric Clinic, in New York City. What it is very interesting that already at that time an artist thought that Light and colour could potentially be used to heal humans.

"Wilfred’s light sculptures were an effort to transcend his Lumia imagery into a spiritual experience with Lumia acting as a meditative trigger to viewer appreciation."

This extract from the website, caught my attention as this is is my aim with my work.

In my work I use the word contemplation as the act of steadily regarding my experiment. I always suggest to the viewer to "experience" rather then "see" one of my objects and related light-effects.

I see the light effects as a medium to reach a state of calm and inner silence where you could feel emotions, have memories or just be present.

On reading the feedback from my Research Sharing I feel that viewers are receptive to the spiritual and meditative qualities of light.

Useful sources:

#contemplation #lighteffect #clavilux #ThomasWilfred

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