Friday, November 13, 2009

Van Gogh and Light

The more modernist writing I read, the more I feel like a modernist artist. Or at least find insight through their writing. For example:

"...If you take some sand in your hand, if you look at it closely, and also water, and also air, they are all colorless, looked at in this way. There is no blue without yellow and without orange, and if you put in blue, then you must put in yellow, and orange too, musn't you?..." -From Van Gogh to Emile Benard, Arles, second half of June 1888
As a photographer I think of how white light contains all of the available colors to an artist. The choice of materials and their hue, colorfulness, and lightness determines how much of the spectrum is adsorbed and how much is reflected.

Photography then can be seen as arranging physical objects because of how our camera will capture their interaction with white light. In a photograph a blue bottle is blue because some of the wavelengths that didn't get reflected including orange.

Back to Van Gogh, he was adding colors he knew intuitively were in his subjects. He started with a canvas and then added color until he created an image. Anytime I push the shutter I am photographing the result of subtracting wavelengths from visible light.

When I am
photographic oil and water interacting, I am photographing the place where color is created. The light that reflects off the water has traveled slightly further than the light that bounches off the oil. The mixtures of reflected light your eye at different points in their wave but at the same moment in time. This is this constructive interference of the reflected light that creates the beautiful colors found on the underside of a CD or a soap bubble.

Interestingly, a similar effect is used in the coating of my cameras lens. The difference is that the thin film deposited on the lens is designed to create destructive interference, rather than constructive. I enjoy the idea that I am photographing constructive interference through a destructive interference.

I wonder what Van Gogh would have thought of this?

No comments:

Post a Comment