Light and Space: Experiments in Transforming the Photosphere

This course will have two primary focuses. The first will be on the experimental manipulation of materials and the environment with a view to understanding how the world presents itself to us as a reality through the medium of light. Particular emphasis will be placed on the fluidity and manipulability of our sense of reality and the environment by means of controlling, transforming or manipulating the flow and pattern of optical phenomena.The experiment-work is intended to be as concrete and open-ended as possible and with no view whatever of a final end product. We will work at the level of the table-top experiment as well as at both the larger and smaller scales of manipulating the broader environment (room, city) or of tinkering with the internal \’visual system\’ of our own physiology to better understand how our own apparatus and our training pre-order the data our nervous system receives even before it arrives (and therefore imposes a priori relationships on it). The goal will be to work with light as a means to change our habits of doing and seeing. Light will be seen as not only a carrier of (visual) information but also as a physical medium that composes space (heat, pattern, rhythm, bio-chemical and photoreceptive agent, etc.) Light\’s role in providing a scaffold for all other forms of apprehending the environment–and particularly for the apprehension of time–will form a primary focus of our research.The second focus will be on the production of a book/atlas of diagrams, models and concepts on the role of \’light\’ in history–from Plato and Proclus through van Leewenhoek, Galileo, and Goethe to Melies, Moholy-Nagy, J.J. Gibson and James Turrell–collecting, organizing and editorializing the material with a view to supplying a framework for the experiments at both the GSD and the Institute fur Raumexperimente in Berlin. This work will become part of a publication in collaboration with our Berlin partners.