Ray of light Geometric Public Art Beautifies Ancient Architecture
Some of the best urban art pieces are those that appear to be something they are not. Those memorable artworks that linger in our minds, even if we cannot give them an exact meaning. The reason they are so impactful is that humans tend to put such an emphasis on the truth of their visual interpretations of the world. When these optical rules are circumvented, viewers delight in an intriguing surprise. Perception itself is played with in the public light art of Tamar Frank, through geometry, unexpected materials, and the magic of light itself.
“I’m a visual artist with the accent on visual”
Light is the source of all vision and the primary material with which Tamar Frank creates unique artworks like Ray of Light, giving her the ability to make profound artistic statements in the most subtle and elegant of ways.
The location of this iconic light installation is the enchanting coastal town of Cascais, Portugal, which sits just west of Lisbon on the Atlantic Ocean. Along with its beautiful historic architecture, it was also the first place in Portugal where electric street lights were installed. Frank studied this previous history to create a site-specific artwork that emulated the beams emitted from lanterns.
What looks like lasers is actually nylon fishing line. At night, lights illuminate the line to give it an impressive glow. The beauty of the work derives in part from its balancing of visual contrasts. The ancient gray stone of the wall is juxtaposed with colored light typical only of recent technologies. While the fortress may have had a geometric perfection in the past, asymmetry has arisen in the decaying process, the flat monochrome surface is now dotted green with plant life. Once again, contrasting these slight imperfections is the rigid exactness of the line of light Frank’s hand has crafted.
Often light art installations are confined to the nighttime hours, unable to be seen with an overbearing sun overhead. Because of the extraordinary creativity of Tamar Frank, her artwork is visible in the day as well, due to the incorporation of physical, non-light materials.
“Sometimes an installation reacts on the change between day and night where it gets taken over by artificial light at dusk. The essential aspect where daylight differs from artificial light is that daylight changes with the movement of the sun and weather conditions whilst artificial light can be fully controlled and modulated to fit the installation.”
It is yet another example of the well-balanced dichotomies present in this urban art piece. Just as all objects change depending on the light cast upon them, such as the nearby ocean or the Cascais fortress itself, Frank’s piece is planned to highlight and comment upon these changes. Thus, instead of locals only giving a quick glance, the piece calls for repeated visits and gives a long-lasting impression.