The power of light

by Kitty Drake in December 2020
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Art & design

The Light Observer is a biannual magazine that investigates our relationship with light. One of the first spreads features the Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson’s Room for One Colour (1997). The installation uses mono-frequency lamps, which beam light of an almost single frequency, giving the viewer the sensation of having extraordinarily keen vision. 

Light is central to art, but it is still surprising, and a little odd, to dedicate an entire magazine to its study. But, as The Light Observer makes clear, to devote a magazine to light is to devote a magazine to sight itself. The photographer Amiko Li has a piece in this issue about his own obsession with light and the way he writes about it is interestingly personal:

“Light is a necessity; I am proud to capture it at the speed of 1/125 a second. I think about the measuring unit: a light year. It sounds as if light just heads straight to its destination, no stopping for tiramisu, no hesitation. As a companion of light I feel lonely as well… I only see light when I am alone… noticing it is summer already and stretching out my arms.”

Li’s photographs are sensual and fleshy: you feel you would like to reach out and stroke the faces in these pictures; to bite into the apples. To understand the significance of light to a person is invasive. At its best, The Light Observer gives you an uncomfortable sensation: you are borrowing someone else’s eyes.

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