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Les Artistes Marc Piemontese On the 18th of October 1989an earthquake shook San Francisco,leaving behind victims and considerable material damage. What caught the attention of one city dwellerwas the “incredible spectacle ”resulting from the blackout: ‘There wasn’t a single light in the entire Bay area. The only luminous points were those of headlights” [11.This shows to what extent electric light has become a determining factor in our daily lives. It has long given rhythm to human activity, freeing it from the solar cycle. It increas es our comfort and our security in the streets: light is order, pushing disorder into darkness. It is a part of our pleasure and festivities,a luxury of staging and play in the “cityof light.” Light is no longer limited to the strictlyfunctional: light in order to see. With the acceleration of scientific and technological innovations it has become light to be seen:we have passed from utilitarian light to aesthetic light. Light has become an object, in the sense of an illuminated object, giving artists, those incorrigible seekers of meaning, a new material to work with, as manipulable as the rustic qualities of wood, the nobility of marble or the cutting edge of steel. AN EXHIBITION ON LIGHT? Twenty-five years after the exhibition Kunst-Licht-Kunst,the first major show of works using artificial light as a principal means of expression [2] (organized by Frank Popper in Eindhoven, the Netherlands), the Centre National Art et Technologie (CNAT) in Reims, France, posed the question of what aes thetic and technical changes had occurred over the past two decades. Created in 1987with the express intent of realizing and producing cultural events that bring together art and technology , CNAT has demonstrated, Art/Science Forum features roursc d~smjitions oj inlerdisciplinaty university teuchingprograms und dcsmptions ojorgunizations dedicated to the interartion o f ad, srimrp ond technology. et la Lumiere-Artists and through its exhibitions, to what extent light is at the heart of its research [3]. In January 1990,CNAT’sdirector invited me to curate the international exhibition Les artistes et la lumikre, which took place from 9 March to 19 May 1991at the ManPge, a completely renovated nineteenth-century building with a surface area of 900 square meters and exceptional technical equipment, suitable for large-scale shows. The common factor that governed the selection of artists for the exhibition and avoided exclusivity was not the enlightened despotism of the exhibition ’s curator but rather the alliance of art and technology. B y “technology”I mean a set of tools, of techniques and of procedures: that is to say, matter as much as operation. B y “art,”I mean works of art based on contemporary materials that are the fruit of the artist’smastery of the technologies used or, at the very least, that indicate that the artist’sknowledge of those technologies was sufficient to allow a dialogue with the engineer or the technician who helped realize the project. In a time when technicians are Light ever more the holders of knowledge, it is the artist who reconciles technical and humanist cultures [4]. Artists’ considerations when delving into Light Art are multiple. First of all, the source of light must be determined. Immaterial light almost always comes from a material source: the sun, fire, an incandescent lamp, a neon tube, laser, etc. Also to be considered is the apparatus used. Artists’ attitudes differ greatly as to the place light occupies in their works. The source can be invisible or shown ostensibly. Depending on the artists’ choices, works tend toward different meanings: technical, magical or sociological [5].The pieces shown in Reims were therefore divided into three groups: light as environment, light to be seen, and virtual light. the question of artists’ commissions as Perhaps it seems out of place to raise ~ ~ _ _ _ _ M a x Pirmontese (freelance curdim) 9 ruc de Poisy, 75005 Pans Franct Received 9 Octobei 1991 Solicited hy Roger F Mdllnd Trdndaled hv Victoria Bndge? Moura~aon ~~ __ ~~~ Fig. 1. Roger Glab,nluminationdu Makge, lightinginstallationof high-pressuresodium projec torsand spotlights,51 x 32 x 13 m, 1991. (Photo:AlainHatat)Here shownis the artist’slighthg design for the Madge...


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