Suzanne van Rest: An Approach to Light - Why artists keep being intrigued by light

 Mentor: John Heymans

External reviewer: Tanja Elsgeest

Enschede, 2009


Why artists keep being intrigued by light is the hypothesis answered in this thesis. Researching the history of light in art, together with the development of light in science made it clear that the content of light is still an open field for new ideas, approaches, theories and speculations. Our knowledge about light is based on possible theories, which can differ extreme. Not only between different professions, however inside professions different believes are present.
These different approaches towards the content of light can also be find in art itself. Even within the practise of one artist different ways of working and approaching light are present. The motives and concepts behind the works of artists working in one way or another with light, are bound to the discussions already present in the 17th century and still present today (e.g. if colour is a property of the world around us or a property of the brain, what the brain does after receiving the information through our eyes, where light goes to). The awareness of every artists concerning these discussions held in the field of science can not be answered, however these artists try, as scientist do, to get a grasp at this phenomenon. Every artists exploring the field of light is confronted with the fact that we still do not know what light exactly is.
With the development of technology new techniques and possibilities concerning light presented itself and it became possible for artists to work directly with the object of light. New ways to express ideas. More importantly, it gave the possibility for artists to merge the subject of light and the object of light together. It became possible to deal with the subject of light by using light as a medium.
The fascination of certain artists towards the content of light can be explained by the complexity of this phenomenon. There are many sides to explore and new insights and ideas to approach this subject. The subject of light and the object of light are constantly nourished, what keeps light an vivid and contemporary subject.