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Sunderland Repository records the research produced by the University of Sunderland including practice-based research and theses.

Library of Light: An artistic framework to explore light, material culture and social experience.

Joelson, Jo (2020) Library of Light: An artistic framework to explore light, material culture and social experience. Doctoral thesis, University of Sunderland.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)


Library of Light is a framework, an imaginative construct created for researching light practice in the fields of art and design. The research is intended to contribute to the understanding of light as a medium of art, by examining its cultural history and its role in today’s new frontiers of art, design and technology. The work has been conducted through interviews with practitioners, curators, producers and other experts involved in the processes of art and performance-making using light as a central component, from the 1960s onwards. These practices include art in the form of music, theatre, performance, fine art, film, photography, holography, digital media, architecture and the built environment, some of which involve collaboration between a number of these fields and across disciplines. The aesthetics of light based practice has evolved over the past six decades as a result of advances in digital media and technology, the integral role of which present challenges for the collection, preservation and archiving of works produced. Consequently, the project has sought to identify institutions whose roles include supporting, archiving, collecting, maintaining and presenting works involving light in the public domain and to consider the challenges entailed, from production, ownership and long-term commitment, to access and distribution. Central to this research framework is the book, Library of Light (authored by the researcher) and which presents encounters with a diverse selection of artists and designers. This undertaking was in parallel with smaller artist–curatorial projects devised to test modes of engagement and spectatorship: from radio broadcasts, artist talks, to writing and filmmaking, which together constitute a response to the experiential, temporal and performative nature of light as a medium of art. The ontological categories of Political Light, Mediating Light, Performance Light and Absent Light examine light-based practice in response to the political, social and ecological landscape, as well as new and evolving technologies and interdisciplinary experimentation. The research findings furthermore reveal the importance of language and the distinctive perspectives required to address light practice through process and materiality.

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Depositing User: Leah Maughan


Item ID: 12209

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Date Deposited: 14 Jul 2020 10:10
Last Modified: 30 Sep 2020 11:00


Author: Jo Joelson

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