Seeing light project with MISD students

Seeing Light and Space

With an emphasis on the works of Dan Flavin and Robert Irwin, Seeing Light and Seeing Space center on the importance of making time to actively see. The Flavin and Irwin workshops offer opportunities to notice and take account of the presence of light. Visiting students are asked to look for elements within the work that a casual observer might miss. Where does an artwork involving light begin and end? How much does the environment play a role in what is seen? Where is the art, exactly? And what is it? 

Pinhole Light Recordings

Light is everywhere, it is part of our lives and yet when we ask the student to describe it, we are often met with silence. This workshop focuses on not just acknowledging that light exists but also that it has a physical presence we can describe, predict and enjoy. On the first day of this two-day workshop, Chinati educators travel to the school campus and lead participants in a discussion of how the eye and brain interpret light. Students are then instructed in the construction of pinhole cameras, made of cardboard, and, if time allows, they’ll assist the educators in turning their classroom into a camera obscura. On day two, students visit Chinati and make predictions about how visible light can change through obstruction, reflection and refraction. They’ll use their cameras to record, develop and print black and white images. With every image, the students must adapt to the changing available light and experiment with the amount of exposure time that is needed to capture the light on light sensitive paper. 

Direct Animation

Colorful and playful films are the result of this project, in which students use markers to draw on16mm film leaders. These can be markedly detailed and narrative images, or they can be simple and abstract marks, or the film can contain both narrative and abstract elements. Educators commonly introduce the concept of direct animation by demonstrating and, time providing, the making of flip books to the students. 

Cinemagraph

Students use shadow puppets, silhouettes and mix additive colored light to create beautiful and often narrative 10-second film loops. The short time parameters of the gif format encourages students to become aware and refine the ways in which they edit and clarify their narratives, color choices and how their colors are mixed through additive light. 

Low Tech Screen Printing

Humble materials and imagination combine for student-made screen prints. The young artists use stickers and tape to design screens. Educators work with students to experiment with colored ink and clear extender to add transparency to colors. Each additional color and design choice add dimensionality to those deceptively simple screens. Overlapping colors produce new colors and students see first-hand how hues and varying intensities can interact with each other.  Past projects took form as abstracted mountains, a tipi, graffiti, brilliant skies, a school bus and vivid color fields. 

Photograms and Cyanotypes

Both projects focus on light phenomena, composition and hands on experimentation. Photograms and cyanotypes are both light recordings which often use objects as a stencil against a smooth surface coated with light sensitive emulsion. The photogram uses a traditional darkroom set up with photographic paper, developer, stop bath, and fixative. For the photogram, a small pen light is shined on the objects. Depending on the angle, duration and intensity of the light the paper may go from varying degrees from white to black. 

Similarly, the cyanotype uses a stencil method to create imagery but rather than a flashlight, the cyanotype print more often uses the light from the sun. The cyanotype also can be mixed in class from ferric ammonium citrate and potassium ferricyanide powder and applied to fabric, wood or any other paintable surface.