Friday, October 27, 2006

The Unbearable Lightness of Seeing

Sometimes the light in Sydney can be harsh. Today, it was so bright it hurt my eyes, so I stayed inside my studio, curtains drawn, and worked.
Don't get me wrong: I love light and shadow, and how they can change the physical and emotional natures of things, but glaring light makes everything dischordant. Colours are bleached, textures hardened. The effect can be as depressing as a dank, grey day.
Still, even on the worst days, there is dusk. The sunlight softens, becomes diffused, and everything is painted burnt umber and gold.
I love watching light shift and change. Everything touched by it is animated, and becomes somehow more real and intense. Shadows take unexpected forms, colours become more vivid and saturated. Softer light lets me stare at the shapes, enables my eye to follow a line for ages without blinking. Looking – really looking – is one of my most intimate pleasures. When bright light makes it uncomfortable, or impossible, I don't even want to be out in the world.

2 comments:

Sheona said...

The desolation that our aussie light can wreak is incredible. Glenn Murcutt observes this southern light in positive terms in so far as it "separates and isolates objects", an action that he can analogise into an architectural aesthetic of articulated parts. Others speak of the poetic 'transparency' of the Australian landscape that this light reveals.

I also wonder about a 'life of the mind' in relation to such exposing brightness...the intellectual context of heat and very bright light (?)

Dusk-wise it's all so fleeting here in Queensland. You have a little more of that seductive in-between time there in the south I think.

Love your blog.

ameliadraws said...

i have nightmares where everything is so bright the figures talking to me, between the sun and my eyes are shadowy and impossible to focus on. I wake up with scratches across my eyelids and down my face