perceiving light (“licht wahrnehmen”)

„he asked them: what was created first, the light or the darkness? he received the answer: this question is not yet decided.“ […] that the creation of light presumes a prior darkness and so the older right of the dark, but that the dark doesn’t make sense without the brightness of the spirit, is perhaps the whole problem, the question that „is not yet decided,“ the question of the possibility or impossibility of the irrational. it already makes itself noticeable but stays outside nevertheless, knocking.” (1)


the contrast between light and darkness, as well as between light and optical refraction, is fascinating on many levels.
this essay deals with the evolution and journey of the element of light in the history of fine arts, touching the borders to an overall society, and why the so called “light art” has nothing to do with a truthful meaning of spirited light.

when an artist dedicates him/her/itself to the process of abstraction of material and visual components, the matter light – which until then has been more a “means to an end” – becomes a leading subject.

in what ways is it represented? can we perceive this substance as a self-contained and independent object, or even as a subject or protagonist of a work itself?

an essay about how light is perceived and treated in the fine arts.


(1) emmanuel lévinas, neue talmud-lesungen, neue kritik, 2001. hierbei zitiert lévinas arlette elkaim- sartre übersetzung aus dem hebräischen: aggadoth du talmud de babylone. la source de jacob, ain ya’akov, verdier, 1982


online read / download available (in german)