When Mary came into our class on Tuesday and was lecturing on the topic that light is a material, I wasn’t so convinced. I do believe that there is an aspect of light that a designer can very much play into and control, but I believe there are much larger factors that must go into a design to create light as a medium, such as other mediums. I began looking into some more technical aspects of light to see what I could find.
What exactly is light then? Scientifically it is electromagnetic radiation that is visible to the human eye and responsible for the sense of sight. While light’s intensity, frequency, wavelength spectrum and direction can all change; it does have a constant speed in a vacuum, which is actually one of the constants of nature.
The one aspect of light that really caught my attention was its responsibility for the sense of sight. If we are trying to argue if light is a material or not, someone who is blind would not be able to experience light as a material visually. And since light is not a physical substance, they wouldn’t be able to experience it by touch either.
I see light as more of a material enhancer, just like color or an applied texture. I think of a material as a physical object. Adding color or texture to a material can dramatically change the visual aspect of the material as well as the space it is in, but the physical properties stay relatively the same. I see this argument strongly with light.
An example of this argument could be seen in Ando’s structures. His buildings would still structurally be standing and have much of the same physical characteristics without light; but with the light, the space is elevated to a whole new level of experience. I know this topic is very opinion related and there are many sides that can be taken on it and I know Ando and Barragan would very much disagree with me on this topic. I do see light as a very valuable design element, just as a I do color, but I do think there is a large role in the physical material that light is paired with to create a space.