First Light, 1998
Back-lit digital transparency, 142 x 168 x 14 inches
In 1998 I was invited by The Photonics Center at Boston University to create a site-specific artwork based on light.
First Light is a computer-generated image. Literally drawn in light, the image received filtering treatment in the computer. The image was printed as a photographic transparency using a Light Jet Direct Digital Laser Printer. The Light Jet printer employs a red, green and blue laser that can transfer an image made in RGB color mode in the computer, pixel by pixel, onto Ilfochrome transparency film.
Architecturally installed the image is mounted on glass and backlit with fluorescent lights. The image was made to deliberately reveal units of light and color as the building blocks of the design. As with the pointillist painting technique dots, or as in this case pixels of color, are on closer inspection clearly visible. Stepping back reveals an impressionistic fusion of light and color. The impressionists wished to separate the colors of the spectrum in order to trap the innumerable shifts of natural light. Natural light, however, is not the subject of this work. Luminosity in this case refers more to a sense of awakening and of poetic illumination.
First Light is one of a series of digital images entitled "Instrumental Variations on a Theme in Dylan Thomas." This body of electronic work parallels a series of paintings that since 1993 have made reference to the poetry of Dylan Thomas. Just as a poem can be the basis of a vocal song, which in turn can be transposed into an instrumental arrangement, so can a drawing be transposed using the computer into an orchestration of light and color. "The Force That Through the Green Fuse Drives the Flower," the poem by Dylan Thomas, is the main inspiration for this commission. Thomas created poems of instinct and power to make sense of, and to give voice to, impressions both seen and unseen that filled his world. First Light does not illustrate Thomas's poems, instead it pays homage and acknowledges the same need to explore ways in which the artist can visit those places where, 'light breaks where no sun shines.'
First Light is installed in the lobby entrance of the Photonics Center, 8 Saint Mary's Street on the campus of Boston University and is visible from the street.
First Light Side Panel
142 x 14 inches