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Light Research @ MMU

The power of daylight: Spencer Finch and David Claerbout

Besides those artists who use artificial illumination in their art, it is also interesting to identify those drawn towards the daylight, like James Turrell.  Two artists whose shows I have recently seen are Spencer Finch and David Claerbout, both inspired by sunlight and its qualities. Spencer Finch recently exhibited at the Turner Contemporary Gallery in Margate, a seaside location in Kent, England, which inspired the great JMW Turner to paint its ever-changing skies. Indeed, the huge window on the seaward side of the gallery allows visitors to focus on these dynamic transitions themselves. Finch is fascinated by the interplay between light, colour and perception, and his work celebrates the ways in which colour continuously changes according to the light that falls on it.  Amongst the works in Margate was Passing Cloud (After Constable) (2014), a sculpture, made out of translucent fabric suspended from the ceiling that alters in transparency and opacity according to the light that fills the space from outside.

spencer finch1

In Back to Kansas (2013), Finch has replicated colours from scenes in The Wizard of Oz in a grid of painted squares that change their hue in response to the varying daylight, and ultimately to the whites, greys and blacks of twilight, revealing the dynamism of colours and our changing perceptions of them under different luminosities. Thank You Fog (2009) consists of 60 photographs arranged in a line at head height that frame exactly the same forest scene. Black to start with, the trees emerge periodically through gloom and fog and under changing light conditions, so we get a sense of how this scene changes from moment to moment

David Claerbout1In a different vein is David Claerbout’s The Quiet Shore (2011), recently shown at the Museum of Contemporary Art as part of this year’s Sydney Biennale The work is a 36-minute black-and-white film shot on the coast of Brittany, France, consisting of a sequence of still photographs. It includes numerous, luminous images of scenes of the smooth, wet, mirror-like surface of the beach. Like Finch, Claerbout celebrates the very distinctive forms of light that bestow distinctive qualities on places. But unlike the endless transformation conjured by Finch, he focuses on a particular time, on the stillness of the silvery water that produced such luminous effects towards the day’s end. The overwhelming beauty of this gleaming luminosity was intensified by the highly polished floor of the gallery room in which it was installed, doubling its power.

David Claerbout3

November 26th, 2014 - 13:34pm

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