From out of the Shadows

Lighting concepts inspired by stories on shadow and light…

Xeno / 2007 / Floor Lamp

“The moon is luminous like a frosted lamp; the light seems to come from inside”
Xenophanes (5th century B.C)

The poet and philosopher Xenophanes spoke of the moon as if illuminated from within. Early astronomical theories pondered the true nature of the moon and attempted to explain the phenomenon of its light source and shape. It was not obvious to all who studied the moon, the sun and the skies that the moon was indeed illuminated by the rays of the sun or that it was spherical. Ancient astronomers were both scientist and philosopher thus the pursuit of truth was quintessentially human and although Xenophanes got it wrong his name is often cited to emphasize the human aspect within any discovery. To this end we are wise to proceed cautiously when presented with a single point of view and explore things from many sides.


Venus / 2007 / Standing Lamp

The discovery that Venus was not a star centres on the two most celebrated astronomers in history, Galileo Galilei and Johanes Kepler and the observation of a shadow.

Sent via Guiliano de Medici, Galileo forwarded Kepler an anagram in 1610. To avoid the risk of divulging his discovery prematurely but without relinquishing the option of claiming the invention, Galileo disguised his message in a code; Cynthia figuras aemulator mater amorum – The mother of love emulates the figure of Cynthia.

To decipher the riddle Kepler examined the myth of Artemis and Apollo born on the sacred Mount Cynthos. He concluded that Galileo had intended for Artemis and Cynthia to be viewed as one, as Artemis was usually depicted as the maiden goddess of the hunt bearing a bow and arrow. Later she became associated with the moon and her brother Apollo the sun. Thus Kepler arrived at the thought – “the moon’s crescent is like a bow pulled taut in the sky” and the solution to the anagram is: “Venus is like the moon, she imitates its aspects”.

In Galileo’s words, the planet Venus is tenebrous – dark, murky and obscured by shadows. His observation of a slender crescent shape on Venus’ hemisphere confirmed that like the moon Venus has a complete cycle of phases as it passes around the sun.

Whilst Galileo’s discovery is remembered to be the one that toppled the concept of the Earth-centred universe, I cannot help but think he did so with the assistance of a beguiling and beautiful goddess.

 

Satellite / 2007 / Suspension Lamp

Contrary to what people may think there is no “dark side” of the moon as no part of the lunar hemisphere is permanently in the dark but this concept is possibly the most profound and enduring of all shadows. Why? Perhaps it has something to do with the concept of the shadow; an area void of light – and as in the case of the moon, most of us cannot and will not ever travel to it to appease our apprehension of a dark and arid landscape with no atmosphere and little gravity.

In August this year my view of the moon was forever changed. Walking late one evening to my local store I came across a man who was looking through a very large telescope set-up on the footpath. Curious to know what he was looking at I stopped to ask him. With little hesitation he encouraged me to look through the instrument and to my amazement I found myself looking at the surface of the moon – as if it was only several feet in front of me!

This image is now recorded in my memory as one of the most extraordinary things I have ever seen. A mountainous surface of white powdery talc emitting a luminous glow, the moon appeared ‘heavenly’.

Satellite is a white opaline disc with a three dimensional relief on both sides emitting light. The design compresses all the phases of the moon into a white field and the ‘dark side’ of the moon

Heart Light / 2007 / Table Lamp

Parmenides’ poem On Nature written in the 5th century B.C. is one of the fundamental texts of Western thought. A philosophical awakening inspired by the phases of the moon Parmenides set out to demonstrate that change, all change is illusionary and that in order to truly exist one must look beyond appearances.

Parmenides concluded that the moon itself is constant and its mutations are mere illusion, the spectacle of the waxing and waning moon is the moon succumbing to shadow tricks. Drawing the analogy between the moon and all of reality Parmenides pondered the changes in lives of men – life and death, love and hate and proposed all to be just special effects, as with the phases of the moon.

The heart of shadow is truth – a shadow cannot lie. They are valuable tools of knowledge, they don’t hide they reveal. The drama, suspicion and trickery attributed to shadows are an effect of our own projections we see both what we want and fear.

 

T-Light / 2007 / Table and Suspension Lamp.

Until just a few generations ago shadows were always moving. The shadow zones concomitant to light emanating from fire both from the sun and flame. Shaky, unsettled and fluctuating in shape and size the ubiquitous shadow was susceptible to air and the clouds.

Shadow and light are linked in the history of technology. Electrification erased the use of candles, torches and lamps and a new luminous quality of light with new shadows appeared: sharp, static, fixed and constant, the modern shadow is produced by the flick of a switch. In spite of this invention shadow play endures, as the light of the sun is not so easily turned off and we are forever inclined to move.

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