L-S_A Topic Areas

Below is an expanded list of Light-Space_Art topic areas with some questions to consider for each item.  These topics will serve as the basis for our discussion of Light-Space_Art throughout the semester.  Students should post all general questions / comments about topic areas as replies to this post.


  • What is the form the artist uses to present the concept? 2 or 3 dimensional?
  • What is the size and configuration of the physical elements of the artwork?
  • What materials and construction methods are used?
  • How does the artwork relate to the context / site?
  • Are all areas of the installation accessible or is viewer access to some areas limited?


  • In what way does light change the spatial character of the environment?
  • Does the work present significantly different information if the viewer circulates around the space or does viewer movement minimally change it?
  • Does the light move or is it fixed and stable?
  • Does the artwork incorporate changes to light levels, light color, etc…?
  • Do some locations within the space present a “better” view of the piece than others?

Lighting Mechanics

  • How are the mechanics of the lighting elements and system addressed?
  • How was it constructed and how does it work?
  • What is the importance of the specific lighting technology used in the intended meaning of the work?
  • Hardware vs: Light  – Is the primary interest the lighting source, illuminated objects, or the light itself?
  • Are the elements used highly specialized or are they commonly used in “everyday” applications?
  • How is light and shadow distributed in the artwork?

Optical response

  • How important is peripheral vision in the optical experience of the artwork?
  • Does the viewing of the work change the way we process visual information – effect our perception or awareness?  How does this happen?
  • Is extreme adaptation to contrasting light levels or varied color a component of the work?
  • How does afterimage impact the visual experience?
  • What goes on in the eye & brain?

Emotional response

  • What is the quality of the experience with the artwork emotionally?
  • What words can we find to define the experience?
  • Does the work reinforce common lighting conditions or evoke dreamlike, unusual phenomenon?
  • Does the work reinforce religious references of light and dark?
  • Does the artwork create a comfortable or uncomfortable environment?


  • What is the conceptual idea the artist is working with?
  • What theories and philosophical ideas does the artist reference when discussing their intent?
  • What notions or thoughts are they addressing or challenging?
  • What worldview / ideology is represented in the work?
  • How legible is the concept in the result?

Records + Representations

  • How does the artist communicate their ideas prior to realizing experiential work?
  • Do they use any representation tools as part of the process for investigate their ideas?
  • What records are there of the completed work and how effective are they at representing the first hand experience?

48 thoughts on “L-S_A Topic Areas

  1. Emotional response
    Is memory part of the experience? For instance is daylight/sunlight/moonlight a factor in framing or evoking an emotional response?

  2. Lighting Mechanics
    Is the light system self-operating or is the user or the artis in charge of it’s operation or response? Is it programmed in an specific way?

  3. Records + Representations
    How does the method of representation affect your perception? What are some examples of photography or video most accurately represent the first hand experience?

  4. Emotional response
    How may the materiality or immateriality of the installation affect our sensory perception? Which senses are most stimulated by immateriality?

  5. Records + Representations
    First-hand experience is far different from second-hand experience through a camera. How can light artists keep their art records without any disparity of those experiences?

    Can viewing different types of installations in a particular order affect the viewer’s visual impression of each successive installation?

    Will the viewer’s emotional response differ depending on how long they experience the exhibition or whether they view it in groups or independently?

  8. Lighting Mechanics:
    Should the artist be conscious of how much energy is sued? The code for galleries is much more different than other space, but should the artist take into consideration how efficient the work is.

  9. Concept:
    How many iterations of your concept must you produce before truly understanding what your product will be? Is it a nominal value or can it stem from one?

  10. Concept : Is the artist(s) part of a larger/gorilla movement? Are his/her/their views shared by other artists in the field? Are his/her/their views shared by those outside field and to what degree?

  11. Space/Time : Does the installation engulf the participator? -Does the participator loose spacial references during one’s experience with the installation? -Does the installation have a full-body effect on the participator?

  12. Records + Representation

    Does it make different between photography and video recording? Is there any factors
    influence record and representation ?

  13. Lighting Mechanics : How much impact does a controls system have on the artwork/installation? How advanced is the controls system? What would the artwork/installation be without the controls system? Is the actual programming (coding if applicable) of the controls system an extension of the design? Is there a line where the program is considered to be doing too much of the work?

  14. Lighting Mechanics:

    Should pieces of art made in the 1970s be updated with today’s technology and light sources if those sources better emphasize the original desired effect?

  15. Representation:

    Since light art must be calibrated to the human optical system in order to be perceived, but must be documented with a photographic system, there is a distortion. Does this always necessarily have to be a degredation of the work or can a representation actually be more powerful?

  16. Lighting Mechanics:

    Some light art could not be created without a very specific type of source technology – are there any artists that use this fact as a critique of technology and the perception of modern man?

  17. Concept:

    A successful piece of art often allows multiple readings of itself. What are the intentions of light artists in regards to the reading of their concept?

  18. Emotional Response
    How do different light producing mechanisms result in different emotions, do the limitations of certain light producing mediums in terms of their visual wavelengths inherently limit the emotional response they elicit?

  19. Records + Representation
    Should light-art speak for itself in terms of the reaction of the viewer or is it ok for the viewer to be primed with a title or caption about the work? Can the transitional progression to the artwork prepare the viewer adequately with out written cues?

  20. Form
    Is the form of the light producing element and it’s surroundings important or is the intangible form that the light takes as an ephemeral element the focus?

  21. Optical response
    Does the human eye generally perceive light and color in the same manner from individual to individual? How might the individual emotional response and color preference vary based on varying perception? The most obvious example is color blindness where colors appear similar, but perhaps differences in perception go far beyond this.

  22. Form: Going beyond 2 or 3 dimensional perspectives of light and into the 4th, in which the light becomes a temporal experience changing over time. Evidence that light is a wave function not a constant.

    Space & Time: How can the experience of the light only exist through the presence of the viewer in the space? How can the viewers experience past or future viewers within the space?

    Lighting Mechanics: Do the people experiencing the art have control over the mechanics? or are the controlled by the mechanics of the light…

    Concept: Capturing the intangible or framing the already present?

  23. Does the work aim to alter the viewers perception of the space?

    Is the light used to create, enhance or alter space?

    Is the lighting effect used emulate a natural occurring phenomena?

    Is the focus of the work about a shared or internal experience?

    Is the work improved by having more then one person interacting with the piece?

  24. I’m still intrigued by this idea of revealing or not revealing the technical reality of light instillation. Are there some examples of artists who deliberately choose one or the other, and if so, what is their explanation?

  25. I guess maybe this would fall under CONCEPT as a topic area, but I’m wondering how we talk about the difference between using natural/existing light, and light fixtures/electrical. What is the implication for the viewer? To me the two are profoundly different in feeling and OPTICAL RESPONSE.

  26. Again on concept, I know how I feel when responding to someone’s work, but what is it that they are trying to communicate? I often feel this is ambiguous, perhaps deliberately. But sometimes you also hear convoluted explanations about concept that don’t seem to add up for a viewer maybe. Not that the artist isn’t entitled to convoluted explanations of their work, they are!

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