It is easy for us to imagine an instance in which the invisible meets the visible. Imagine a beam of light, which is normally invisible, striking a reflective surface and bouncing into our eyes. The light that was invisible is now visible. From our perspective as observers, it has been transformed.
Now please imagine an instance in which the invisible meets the invisible. Imagine light striking glass. If the glass is perfectly transparent, it is virtually invisible. When a beam of light strikes it, we will have no way of knowing.
Credit: Meeli Koiva.
I am fascinated by the systems and structures we use for understanding the world around us, bringing context to the unknown and chaotic. Light and glass play a crucial role in this endeavor, from the transmission of information through fiber optics, as well as the revealing of the distant unknowns, and the microscopic world right in front of our eyes.
“Alternating Entropy” Piece. Credit: Justin Gingsberg.
Life as we know it would not exist without light, yet in our day-to-day routines we hardly give it a thought. What we consider to be concrete material objects surrounding us, are only collective molecules at certain vibrations. And if that was not enough to wrap your brain around, those vibrations only reveal their unique colors to us because of the frequency at which these molecules occupy, and therefore absorb and reflect light. Then, if you thought your whole world was solid, as the basis of which you build your life foundation, it is known that we actually don’t see solid objects, but our brain interprets the light frequencies sent to it from the reflected objects! And you thought you just got up with the sun to start your busy day!
States of Illumination, Ausglass’ 17th Biennial Conference held in Adelaide (Austalia) in February 2015, was themed with purpose to connect to UNESCO’s International Year of Light, giving organisers and presenters a topic full of creative and scientific wonder.
Over 250 participants came from around Australia, New Zealand, Asia, North and South America, and Europe, to Adelaide, home to a thriving community of artists working with glass and a city bursting with arts festivals.
Participants of the Ausglass’ 17th Biennial Conference. Credits: Ausglass’ 17th Biennial Conference.
Glass and light share a long history in art. In ancient times, glass was used to mimic rare gems, its preciousness was important enough to be mentioned in the Bible (Job 28: 17). Glass’ ability to absorb, redirect, and reflect light on the intense coloured surfaces of the imitated stones played a major role. Much later in Europe, glass was cut and painted, and arranged to convey stories. Church windows used the light that transmitted through the massive windows to convey didactic stories that were painted on glass panels. In contemporary art, light is used to encapsulate and create an illusion of tangible space, defining negative spaces that become the object itself. The renown Czech artists Stanislav Libenský (1921-2002) and Jaroslava Brychtová (1924-) discovered that through negative modeling a new conception in sculpting with glass could be developed; and light became an essential component on the creation of narratives within sculptures itself.
This year, as a Collaborating Partner of the International Year of Light 2015, Berlin Glas e.V. will be organizing the workshops in its youth programme – Kids Blow Glas – to focus on light, glass and art.
Kids marvering glass. Credits: Berlin Glas e.V.