Luxes Magazine Mexico


The light Images of Tamar Frank


Felipe Orensanz Escofet

foto's: Daphne Schappert, Philip Driessen


1. Your work is closely related to the spatial contexts in which it is inscribed. How would you describe the dialogue your projects have with architectural and urban spaces?


The starting point in my work is defining the architecture and/or urban space and surroundings. Here I try to discover what is specifically unique about the location and sense how one physically moves through and around it. The main focus is on the visual aspects that the space is built up in but every location also carries a function and a history. These are drawn together and create the starting point in developing a light installation.


2. Your installations use both artificial sources as well as natural daylight. How do your projects embrace the natural/artificial dichotomy of architectural lighting?


Initially I started working only with daylight. I built neutral spaces as scale models and allowed daylight to enter. With the use of openings, filters and color I created 'light images' that enveloped the space. The scale models turned into life size installations. Using artificial light primarily held the function of substituting daylight. Now I use both. Sometimes an installation reacts on the change between day and night where it gets taken over by artificial light at dusk. The essential aspect where daylight differs from artificial light is that daylight changes with the movement of the sun and weather conditions whilst artificial light can be fully controlled and modulated to fit the installation. I like to especially react on the uncontrollable aspect of using daylight. The intensity of a light installation can change where light is captured and intensified at any moment. Just as it happens in nature.


3. What kind of perceptual and emotional effects do your projects try to have on the spectator?


With my work I try to captivate the spectator and to also catch one off guard. It is not so much a surprise effect but one of a gradual understanding of what can and cannot be seen. At times I try to enhance things that are already there thus giving new attention to an existing feature. Sometimes I use strong contrasts and deviating perspectives to create something that is not there but is visually perceived as such. The incentive is to invite the spectator to experience a heightened visual sensitivity and how this defines our sense of orientation. Many things go by unnoticed. A minimal change can draw new awareness. Another aspect I hope to achieve is that the spectator submits him/herself to be enveloped by the work. By losing the conventions of what we know and recognize we can allow ourselves to purely 'experience' as a child does. I try to appeal to the essence of seeing.


4.  Because of the fact that their primary material is light, your work is peculiarly time-sensitive (as opposed to other more traditional forms of visual art). How does your work deal with issues like time, permanence and durability?


It depends on the setting and situation that the work is established in. Many of my installations and projects are of a temporary nature. They are usually established specifically for the location. When the work has a shorter life-span there is more room for experimenting in using fragile materials. I work with light as a medium but light manifests itsself through matter in various forms. However insituations where the work is expected to maintain a longer life-span i.e. projects in the public space or within the architecture of a building a different approach is needed. The work has to be substainable and preferably low maintanance. Some installations deal with time in a different way when they are dynamic. Here a light program allows a sequence to occur which the spectator can undergo from beginning to end. This has been a recent development in my work.


5. Architects and visual artists usually work with physically tangible materials. How does working with an immaterial source such as light change the basic and fundamental principles of art?


In principle working with a less tangible material does not need a different approach when it comes to the essence of what all art and architecture deals with: line, colour, composition, division, dimension, etc. The essential difference is that it cannot be presented in a traditional form as an artwork that can be hung on a wall. This makes it more difficult to present and sell to the larger public through a gallery. But with projects in the public space where the work is integrated in the environment and architecture I have a much larger audience of unsuspecting passers-by. Here a new realm is reached outside the walls of museums and galleries creating a more open and direct response from the spectators. At first sight it might not always be clear to define when a work is art, space, function and/or design. This ambiguity interests me. Like I mentioned before, I try to come to a closer understanding in the essence of the visual world. To me light is a source. A painting also needs light to manifest itsself. Working with something intangible is challenging and at the same time liberating. Literally less weight.


6. In spite of its immateriality, light is capable of creating and defining visual borders (which is evident in many of your projects). To what extents do you believe that light can actually be used as an architectural element?


Here I come to repeat that light in general is the essence and defines how we perceive things. Especially in architecture light can be used to draw focus to certain elements. It is evident that architects also use light to feel the space and make us feel and experience how we move through it. Alavaro Siza's architecture is a good example of this. Now that I am in Portugal I always set out to admire his work. The Serralves museum is a beautiful building where light space and emptiness is brought to a perfect balance. It is very pure to me. Besides daylight artificial light can be used ideally to define broders, focus points, rhythm and direction. Light in itsself an architectural element to me.


7. Working with artificial light has an inevitable dependence on lighting technology. Is technology usually an opportunity or a limitation?


I see the development in light technology as a possibility to further implement ideas that might not have been possible before. It is interesting to work together with innovative light companies that are open to trying out and developing new light forms. I have recently been working with interaction and synchronizing light and sound within a program. Also working with leds has opened new possibilities for me. The small size and low heat emmitence of the diodes enable me to work with light under extreme weather and temperature conditions and to apply light in combination with materials such as fine fibres, paper, resin and other heat sensitive substances. So to me technology only brings more opportunity in my work.