Light Symposium – Light in Arts

Light as material and metaphor

Stephen Barker’s talk, “Light as Material and Metaphor” was one of the most
engaging talks I’ve attended while at UCI. Stephen Barker is currently serv-
ing as Interim Dean of Arts, but nevertheless enthusiastically answered our call
for talks when we first dreamed of the Light Symposium, an interdisciplinary
collaboration of various departments on campus. Stephen opened up with a
general walkthrough of light in art, and how its use has always been the center-
fold for many of the great artists. The evolution of light in art, however, as a
sort of tool to the focus and crux of a piece, was the most englightening part of
the talk for me. Stephan, speaking with increasing excitement, navigated us
through various interpretations of light, opening up new meanings and discus-
sions. Especially illuminating was the discussion of J.M. Turner’s use of light
as it progressed from tool to subject.

Improv game: how to create a graveyard in East Texas

Dr. Jaymi Lee Smith, a skilled lighting director and professor in the Theatre
department here at UC Irvine, good-naturedly took the random suggestions
from a bunch of over-ca einated scientists:
J: So how are we going to place our character in a graveyard in East Texas?
Audience: backlighting!
J: How much?
Someone in the audience: …63
Jaymi walked us through how a lighting director thinks and experiences the
stage. In the smallish, but intimate, Nixon Theatre nestled into a crook of the
arts department, next to buckets of chemicals used for developing photographs,
we were able to create outlandish scenes and asburd storylines using Jaymi’s
suggestions and expertise. It was one of the most unique experiences of the
Light Symposium: I think it’s safe to say that not many of us have, or will
have, the experinces of lighting an entire stage using top-notching technology,
and with Jaymi’s guidance, it was a blast.

Reception at Play: in Three Acts

To celebrate the end of the Light Symposium, we partnered with Samantha
Young from the Beall Center of Art+Technology to bring you Play: in Three
Acts. Each interactive exhibit by artists from around the country explored
di erent aspects of light in exceptionally entertaining ways. In the first exhibit,
one creates waves by moving through a fixture hanging from the ceiling, and
so sparks a cacaphony of previously recorded sounds that are on a 20 minutes
loop, so every iteration is different. In the other, two people race using various
lamps from di fferent eras found at yard sales form around the country. In the
third – and I will fully admit to be scared out of my wits – one is submerged in

total darkness, and like in the fi rst exhibit, one’s body movements through the
space sparks sounds that follow you around as you try to fi nd your way back
to the light. Although spooky, it was interesting, and important, to recall that
we only have light because we also have darkness, a theme that we seemed to
explore in one way or another through all the exhibits and talks at the Light