Light, colour and the human experience
I am still battling to find that elusive thing, the philosophical enigma that will paint my work in an MA-worthy shade. While I have toyed with various veins of study, it seems difficult to find one that lends itself to something of interest to more than the tiniest of minorities… undoubtedly a poor choice for marketable photography.
Historically, the inclusion of glass in places of worship (beyond straightforward illumination) was to allow the light of God, in the guise of beams of light, into the building. This was built upon by the inclusion of biblical representations painted on the glass, allowing the uneducated congregation to view scenes from the bible: the conception of stained glass had been born. I have gone into more detail on this matter HERE. My photography of such glass is using that same light and capturing it in a manner that it can be reproduced in any of a host of different methods. It would be foolish to claim that my research is concerned with capturing and portraying an extension of the light of God, although that would certainly be difficult to disprove! Such religious quackery is rife in the USA… you can pay for healing sessions ($50 for half an hour) in which you are bathed in coloured light that is passed through quartz crystals: HERE. Perhaps more realistically my hopes should be to deliver content that is calming and reassuring in nature – although this would be difficult to quantify.
I do still believe that using photography as a medium for trying to bring ‘the wonders of God’ to the people, as depicted in the religious stained glass, is valid and relevant. Browsing such images on a tablet would be the modern take on viewing the windows in a church, with light passing through the object. The gradual decline in church and chapel usage would suggest such remote access to the religious images could only be a good thing – perhaps it might be more appropriate for me to include the pertinent biblical references, rather than (or as well as?) research on the chapel. The concept does require polishing, but I hold fast to the notion that it is an appropriate research project and hope that the images should speak of light, colour and the human experience.
Another take on my work regards the physical passage of light thorough a medium. This is something that does really interest me: I am a scientist; I have taught optics, refraction and reflection to children and I have produced numerous optical effects for dramatic productions. There is a wealth of possible research here – the refraction of light throughout coloured glass is a perfect study topic for an MA… in Physics. I have investigated this in more depth HERE.
Perhaps my notion should be to attempt to answer the question ‘can the photography of stained glass be considered art?‘ I am going to great lengths to do more than perform a simple reprographics task and do believe that my work is very definitely art – certainly by definition:
art /ɑːt/ (noun) the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power.
The photographs I have taken and the permissions I have for their use are tied to the straightforward sharing of an accurate representation of the stained glass to the public. A change in direction may lead to the shelving of all current research, communications and plans, which would be a costly waste.
I do need to nail down the precise path of my research, or more specifically, find that elusive thing that gives a raison d’être to my existing research. This is definitely not something that comes easily to me.