Text: Vellachi Ganesan

05. Dec 2010

The Light Within

I have always known somewhere deep within myself there lies light. In the darkest hour of the night, during the silence of a sunrise or as the sunlight filters into the thicket of a forest, I have felt the presence of this light, of myself, of my own being come forth. Such moments hold the deepest human experiences and it is in pursuit of such moments that I continue my journey. Sometimes, I have found these moments in manmade works too, in architectural space and artistic experience. Works, from Turrell’s installations to Zumthor’s ‘Therme’, have touched me deeply and made me feel free, present and human. The presence of a certain light quality in their work speaks to me in a way words cannot describe. I have contemplated these ideas for some time, and sought to explore them in my own ways. What is it about the light in these spaces that make them so evocative and touching? Can I, as a designer, also create such work? To answer these questions, perhaps we must ask the most basic question: What is the primary relationship between man and light?

Our relationship with light is perhaps one of the most basic and most integral to our human existence on many levels. This relationship dates back to the beginning of human history, and even earlier, into our evolutionary period. Light is an element that has always fascinated the human being, an element so powerful that it has been responsible for a human history of language and literature, art and architecture, spirituality and religion, and a domain of science. Light has inspired and fuelled our history, because of the way in which we, as human beings, are taken by, touched and impacted by it. And that means that there is an intimate and innate manner in which light touches our humanness. The relationship we have with light precedes all our expressions of it. How can we unravel such a basic, real, primal relationship between the human being and light? The answer lies in delving deeper into the way we have expressed light, in language, literature, art, architecture, spirituality, religion and science, and by exploring it thus re-veal the human spirit from which these expressions of light were created. In addition, we must explore the basis of human experience with light – sight, dreams and the construct of the human mind –imagination. This essay is an exploration of some of these elements, with the intention of coming closer to having a sense of what light essentially means to us. […]
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The full version of the article can be found in PLD No. 74

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