What Time is it on the Sun? Light and Spirituality in Contemporary Art
This paper will focus on contemporary media-based art, specifically those practices which employ light and digital media to foster, encourage, or test the boundaries of the metaphysical and the spiritual. The characteristics of light explored will include its simultaneous visibility and intangibility, and its application linguistically to religious and spiritual practices (in such cases as the terms 'enlightenment' and 'illumination'). Various artistic practices will be discussed, including those of Bill Viola, Shirin Neshat, and Sharon Alward, and the ways in which these artists use light as both raw material and a non-material. Special emphasis will be on their use of light as an inherently liminal--and therefore inherently metaphysical--medium. Furthermore, the paper will discuss these artists and their specific works as occupying a realm of spiritual investigation and practice, and locate them between the twin artistic extremes of works which depict and works which embody. The paper will then conclude with a summation of the artist's own experience in working with light-based media from within a practice built upon strategies of contemplation and liminal spaces.
Keywords: Light-based Media, Contemporary Art, The Metaphysical, Phenomenology, Spirituality, Digital Media, Electronic Media, Installation Art, Video Art, Buddhism
Sessional Faculty, Department of Visual Art, University of Regina