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Composing with light

15/04/2022 in Your time
The bezel of the new KloK 08 MINIM watch takes on a range of different appearances, thanks to the special shaping of the glass that multiplies shadows.
 
Time has always played tricks. It is thought to be white, whereas it is actually polychromatic. From time to time, it reminds us of this by passing through a prism that magically breaks it down into seven colours, from violet to red. The explanation for the sudden rainbow when a ray of sunshine appears just after the rain is that there are water droplets suspended in the air which then act as prisms. The droplets separate out the colours which become white again a few dozen metres further on, as soon as they are grouped together in the same beam.
 
Over time, this changing light has never ceased to fascinate mankind. Many scientists have studied it and come up with various theories. Many artists have also tried to work with this elusive and fascinating material... The most significant trend is light painting, a photographic technique that consists of drawing figures with a light source. The first works of this kind date back to the 19th century. Then Man Ray  experimented with it between the two world wars. In 1949 in Vallauris, Pablo Picasso and Gjon Mili co-signed a series of portraits drawn with light. In Italy, Lucio Fontana and Bruno Munari began to use it as an artistic language, an approach that was taken up by kinetic artists in the 1960s. Fontana created a Signe lumineux suspension for the IX Triennale in Milan in 1951, a sort of scribble made of an assembly of neon lights 130 metres long which played with the void to create a composition.
 
On the other side of the Atlantic at the same time, the American Dan Flavin used coloured neon lights as brush strokes. Bruce Nauman has sculpted them into words like great signs in the beating heart of a city that never sleeps. A host of other artists have created works using fluorescent tubes. The Frenchman Martial Raysse has created light installations with beams that beautifully occupy the space. All these works can be extinguished, disappear at any moment... Ah, light, that most spectacular and fleeting of materials which constantly eludes capture. Except on film. And yet.
 
The Greek roots of the word "photography" mean "writing with light". The photographic image is created by a  chemical reaction when it hits the sensitive film. A principle that remains the same even in the digital age. Indeed, nothing is immortalised without the help of light. 
 
After all, don't most great photographers have a personal relationship with this accomplice? Each one trying to coax and cajole it, to make it appear as never before through their images. We could list all the great names of black and white photography. We will focus on the work of the Brazilian Gaspar Gasparian, whose images, with their sublime play of transparency and reflection, were pinned to our Klok 08 MINIM mood board. There were also photos of sculpted glass perfume bottles which catch the light in a thousand different ways. This sacred light which, since 2018, benefits from an international day under the aegis of Unesco in order to highlight "its central role in the fields of science, culture, arts, education and sustainable development". It’s held every 16 May, so keep an eye on your watches as it’s coming up soon!
 
 
Texte : Frédéric Martin-Bernard
Copyright Gaspar Gasparian - Composição Moderna de 1953
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