Light And Only Light

Possible Classroom Concepts: Science – Light Sources, Artificial Light, Refection, Shadows

Language Arts – Concrete Poetry

Mathematics – Line Segments, Parallel Lines, Intersecting Lines, Shapes

Possible Art Concepts: Art History – Dan Flavin, Minimalist Art

Line, Shape, Color, Primary Colors, Secondary Colors, Color Mixing, Nonobjective Art

In my maps post, I talked about the use of neon lighting as an unusual material in Nam June Paik’s “Electronic Superhighway”. Well, before artists started using neon lights in their artworks, a Minimalist artist named Dan Flavin created installations from common everyday fluorescent light tubes found at the hardware store. His art was minimal for two reasons. First, he used  everyday fluorescent tubes and didn’t try to disguise them in any way. Secondly, his images were simple lines and geometric shapes that were not supposed to represent anything in particular (In art we call this nonobjective.). Check out the following article for more information and an excellent correlation with Language Arts:

For a science unit on light, look back at  “Untitled (to Barnett Newman to commemorate his simple problem, red, yellow, and blue)” and think about the following items to review some of your light unit vocabulary. The colored fluorescent light tubes are artificial light sources. In art, red, yellow and blue are the primary colors. Mixed together, they make the other colors. Now look at the reflected light on the solid wall. The yellow tubes face outward, so they reflect yellow on the outside of the rectangle. The red and blue tubes face inward. Note the very thin red and blue reflections around the metal holding strips. Now look in the center of the rectangles, where does the purple reflection come from? There are no purple tubes. The red and blue reflections have mixed to form the purple. Flavin has mixed colors using only colored light.

I have to admit, when I first started researching this post, I thought it was going to be a pretty flimsy integration. I could only see help with a science light unit and a weak one at that. Next, I found the poetry correlation which is cool. Then came the cherry on top. I was reading the following post. With the mention of the words “intersecting and parallel lines of light”, “BAM” a mathematics correlation appeared. Look at the examples of Flavin’s work in the next three posts and try to find line segments, parallel lines, intersecting lines, and shapes:  (I like this post because one of the examples is a video time lapse showing changing  light through the day. Add shadows to the Light Unit)     ( Next to Flavin’s pieces in this post are the original artworks that inspired the work. You probably shouldn’t show the urinal.)

Using a variation of the following lesson, students could design their own light installation. Perhaps using mostly light tubes and incorporating at least one each line segment, parallel line, intersecting line, and shape. The basic lights will be primary colors and where they intersect mix the two colors ( to make secondary colors).


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