Illuminated Floor Artwork;

Research Outcomes for the Department of Culture and the Arts (DCA) Grant

Grant Proposal

The grant application proposed to: create a body of illuminated work that more broadly explores illumination as a metaphor used in everyday life, philosophy, literature and spirituality. The grant was a contribution towards research and development and not for a specific exhibition.

The Project

It was important the series operated beyond the idea of mere lighting to express a sense of wonder in the shift between day and nocturnal presence. I wanted to create a series of illuminated forms with an intentional ambiguity that evoked a sensorial response from the viewer.

My longstanding interest in pattern and layering has continued throughout the research undertaken, in combination with the amalgamation of hand and industrial processes. However, this approach was directed into new territory through experimentation with new material substrates, surface treatments, and the inclusion of an illuminated component. The incorporation of ubiquitous patterns captured during the research timeframe was another project imperative. As the project unfolded, it made sense for many of the works to be comprised of interchangeable components, building a ‘library’ of different stratified surfaces able to operate as floor pieces with a transposable ability. The pieces could also move from horizontal to vertical positions via the use of fabricated acrylic armatures. The format of floor works allowed for ease of layering and stacking ‘strata’.

The project comprised conceptual and practical research with an emphasis on the freedom to play, test ideas through practical experimentation, and serendipity. As part of the process, requiems were regular events for failed experiments. The experimentation with pattern, substrates, and illumination, has significantly contributed to some of the surprising elements in the outcomes.

Methodology

In the initial developmental process a range of material prototypes were produced that informed the direction of the project. This process consumed several weeks but also continued throughout the research. The testing of ideas required several prototypes in paper, fabric, acrylic, wood veneer, mirror acrylic and sandblasted glass. Key industrial processes included routing, laser etching, and sandblasting. These processes were often used in combination on a single substrate. The particular processes were chosen for their ability to achieve one of the aims of the research – to make industrial processes appear ‘non-industrial’ or hand produced - as a form of disruption or contradiction to their incorporation.

Parallel to the theoretical research mentioned above, drawings of random, ubiquitous patterns evolved that were digitally reproduced for industry application. For example, whilst making ice cream in a refrigerated ice cream maker, an ice crystal pattern appeared on the inside of the refrigerated container before the ice cream mixture was inserted. The image was documented, drawn, and converted into a digital file. On another occasion a cracked glass screen was photographed in an airport check-in lounge. This was also documented with the intention of transferring an image of cracked glass onto undamaged glass.

Each pattern became an integral part of the layering, but often provided a disruption to the reading of the work. This often came about by sandblasting both sides of glass surfaces or layering laser etching on both sides of acrylic mirror. The double blasting creates a blurred effect, giving rise to ambiguous interpretations of the work.

After initial drawings, several patterns were explored via hand cutting mask out material and sandblasting, others were digitally rendered and industrially fabricated onto a range of substrates.

Initial experiments with LED’s proved not to be as interesting as Flatlight due to the non-point source aspect and it was difficult to disguise their presence. It became obvious that Flatlight offered more potential as a material for this project. It fitted my natural proclivity to layer as a methodology to build forms. Its ‘flatness’, thinness, lightness, ability not to emit heat, non point source illumination, were ideal qualities for its incorporation into the layering process. Flatlight almost became an ‘invisible’ illuminated layer – visible only through the light it emitted but importantly, not detectable as a light source.

In addition to patterned surfaces I also explored the incorporation of text as a surface aesthetic. In this sense, the use of the word immanence was significant. Research revealed the word itself is ambiguous. However, whilst the illuminated aspect is somewhat disguised in the series, it’s reference to an illuminated ‘inner’ aspect of the work was the conceptual intent.

Industry Liaison

The key industry people were: Cooling Brothers Glass; Artcom Fabrication; WestAus Glass (for sandblasting); and Sun Industries for the supply of Flatlight.

Outcomes

A series of sixteen illuminated floor pieces built from multiple, interchangeable layers, that can operate as individual illuminated forms, and present the potential for large scale artwork forms or building integrated applications. Many other surfaces were produced but sixteen illuminations completed. ‘Completed’, however, is not entirely correct as the works are ‘open’ in the sense that they encourage playful interaction: through substitution of substrates , and the addition/subtraction of layers.

Acknowledgements:

DCA
Department of Culture and the Arts
Cooling Brothers Glass
Artcom Fabrication
Sun Industries
WestAus Glass
Jamie Macchiusi – digital design
Quyen Do – digital design

September 2015
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