Friday, February 26, 2010

Helen Pashgian's Untitled
Working in Light
Pomona College Museum of Art

Helen Pashgian "works material in such a way that it hints at immateriality. This new work definitely does this. Does she spiritualize the material world or materialize the spiritual? I suppose the latter. But, in this object lesson of hers, a unique truth does emerge. A resonance not found in ordinary physical objects comes forth that bridges the material and the immaterial, the visible and the invisible. And allows a supra-formal reality to be perceived."
-James Turrell

I found that this particular work resonated with me more than a lot of the other works in our art museum, seeing as I had just endured a discussion on the constitution of light and shadows. Is a shadow an object? Most people would say no, it is merely an illusion. But a shadow is quantifiable. I can point to it, manipulate it, create and destroy it. It is a remnant of light - a part of a gradient in which some brightness still exists. Seeing as light exhibits wave-particle duality, it is in fact made up of photons. Therefore, light can be said to be an object, as minuscule as its comprising matter may be.
But then, can a shadow be called an object when it cannot exist on its own? After all, you cannot show me a shadow. It is always a shadow of something else. Is the shape of a shadow but a quality of the light in that specific space, thus taking away a shadow's own qualities as its own object?

So as I walked between the pillars of color, light diffused through the acrylic so as to create soft, dreamy beams of light, I could help but to be entranced by the shadows lurking in the dark spaces of the exhibit. My brain spun, my eyes struggling to find something substantial in the madness of my situation... but all I could do was stare.

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