Four fundamental interactions between light and matter:
emission, transmission, reflection, and absorption.
The Observer Effect exhibition was the culmination of a collaborative research project with artist Johanna Bolton. The exhibition explored the process of observation as artistic investigation and was informed by the quantum theory of the same name, which proposes that simply through the process of observing, an observer alters the thing they are looking at. Detailed investigations into everyday objects, forms and occurrences revealed their underlying complexity and depth and suggested that the observer is equally altered through the act of observation.
A specimen drawer from the Collection from the Museum of Light displays archived light samples.
The exhibition included works from Michaela’s recent Daylight Observations project, in which changes in the luminance, intensity and colour of daylight are recorded from selected locations over a specified duration.
The 365 observations of light, 365 images for Michaela’s recent project A Year of Light. An image/observation of light was posted each day on Twitter throughout 2015 for the International Year of Light.
Detail of the images from the A Year of Light project.
The Motion of Matter was a collaborative research project and exhibition with artist Johanna Bolton based upon Aristotle’s description of motion ‘as the passage of matter into form’. Aristotle postulated that no observation of the physical world could ignore the principles of motion, which he classified into four categories:
“motion which affects the substance of a thing
motion which brings about changes in quality
motion which brings about changes in quantity
motion which brings about locomotion”
Through structured and intimate observations, the Motion of Matter investigated the multitude of ways motion changes our interpretations of and interactions with the material world. Based upon the durational daylight observations begun during the residency at the Old Lookout Gallery in July 2015, Michaela’s work in this exhibition explored the interaction between light and motion. Her process of observing changes in light from a single location across a day became equally focused upon the experience of stillness as it did about the motion of the orbiting earth.
The exhibition included Projection Boxes and Light Specimen Drawers from the Collection of the Museum of Light as well as Michaela’s durational Daylight Observation prints. Johanna’s works included two and three dimensional sculptural objects, moving image and photographic prints.
Photographs by Dominic Tschudin.
It sometimes it is necessary to ‘step-off’ the rollercoaster ride of working life and find a place where time is measured by changes in light and tides and passing of long, quite days. Thanks to Karen Shepherdson, I have just returned from such a place, having spent nine days as Artist in Residence at the Old Lookout Gallery in Broadstairs in Kent, UK. The gallery is in an idiosyncratic old leaning weatherboard building on the jetty with views across the English Channel. It is slightly rough-hewn but beautiful. I found it deeply luxurious to sit and watch the sea whilst ruminating about the experience of being a body in light.
Outside the locals partied on the esplanade on Friday evenings, cooked welks in a large steaming pot on Sunday morning and spoke of the weather often. Day-trippers rolled in like a tide at 9.45am and rolled out again, significantly pinker, at 6.00pm.
Being there was all about rhythm, the rhythm of light, tide and life. My days went slowly and I spent my time researching and developing three light collection methods which will form the basis of my ongoing Museum of Light project. After some coaxing, all the techniques worked well and saw me observing, tracking and following light around the gallery space from dawn until dusk.
The result is a collection of photographic sequences, luminance and colour temperature data and visual and text-based observations of changes in light within a specific frame. My challenge now is to collate this data, investigate what correlations result from these different approaches and to produce a series of art works based on these observations.
The intended outcomes of the residency are a pocket sized publication titled ‘A Light Collector’s Field Guide’, a short film about light and global orbit and the addition of a new data set to the Museum of Light archive.
A Collected History of Light is currently on show in the Nostalgias Exhibition at the Pie Factory Gallery in Margate from Nov 1 -12. It is a beautiful and engaging exhibition, curated by Monica Takvam and Sam Vale to coincide with the Nostalgias Conference which will take place at the Winter Gardens in Margate Nov 9-10.
It has been a very busy few weeks in the lead up to the exhibition, but the work is now successfully installed. I have carried the idea of A Collected History of Light around with me for a long time and it is very satisfying to see the work come to life at last.
I had made a prototype of the light drawers earlier in year using optic fibre and a range of display technologies but none of them worked particularly well. I needed to resolve the light source in the drawers to make the piece work as I had imagined.
To achieve this I undertook a number of experiments, starting by hacking existing lcd screens and adding led arrays. This was interesting but did not bring enough focused light into the archive. Next, I explored the possibility of using barco led tiles (used I believe on the last U2 and Pink Floyd tours). They were great and intensely powerful and I would love to work with them in future but there was just too much kit for the scale of this installation. Finally, I decided to use a collection of pico projectors. I have been waiting my whole life for projectors to shrink to this tiny size. The luminance levels are beautiful in the drawers and they work very well when focused through the optic fibre.
I also did my first laser cutting, which makes so many future ideas a possibility. I modified the retro archive cabinet, loomed cables, cut optic fibre bundles with a hot blade, folded and shaped black wrap, built custom projector housings and visualised light data into viewable looping sequences.
The resulting art work is poetic, ephemeral and lyrical which rather belies the very matter of fact and persistent problem solving that was required throughout its creation. It was hard work and stressful at times but so very satisfying to see the completed piece being enjoyed by its audience.
A very big thank you to everyone who has supported me in my somewhat mad process. Sending a shout out to Richard Godbold, David Tree, Allie Gazzard, Sam Vale, Peter Brownhill, Justin Rhyme, Paul Wood, Victor Crew, Yaron Lifschitz and Peter Barwick.
I saw the Light Show at the Hayward Gallery recently and I am happy to say it was one of the most pleasing exhibitions I’ve been to for some time. There was a lovely sense of the pleasure of discovery and strong links to my current research and practice; light, perception, wonder and phenomenal experience.
I certainly wasn’t excited by all of the artworks but the were a few I really loved; Olafur Eliasson’s Model for a timeless garden is animation in real-time, in which clouds of water particles become miniature galaxies and moving fountains are momentarily frozen in mid-air. Brigitte Kowanz’s Light Steps is a beautifully simple visual illusion which creates an imagined spatial dimension, Carlos Cruz-Diez Chromosaturation (pictured above) plays with the perception of colour. By standing still in a deeply saturated red space eventually the red neutralises back to white. Moving into the adjoining green space, the greenness of green is almost overwhelming. Beautiful.
Last night Richard and I went and lit lanterns in the field and watched them drift down the valley until we couldn’t see them any more. It was beautiful, a clear cold evening with very little breeze. A welcoming for the new season and a letting go of all that needed letting go of. We felt lucky and grateful to be there.