Solid Light: Anthony McCall

         by Alessandro Trabucco

In 1973, with his work Line Describing a Cone, British-born American artist Anthony McCall (1946) began his works series of “solid light”, created through projections of very intense beams of light, obtained through the use of a particular technology.

Everything started from his careful observation of the three-dimensional light volumes originated by the powerful cinema projectors, that develop in a conical shape along a horizontal line before turning themselves into two-dimensional moving pictures on the screen.

Pure light, as electromagnetic emanation containing in itself a precise information, invisible in the route between the source and its destination, to eventually finding its full expression once it spreads out on a flat surface, a wall for example.

The difference among the images of a film and McCall’s works consists in the content they express.

The artist chooses to reduce to a bare minimum the information he projects, using exclusively primary geometrical forms such as circles, waves, ellipses, minimal signs having the highest definition and luminous intensity. His research is part of those artistic trends that, between the end of Sixties and the beginning of Seventies of the last century, analytically speculated on the language and the components themselves of the used medium, proceeding to a deepened decomposition of its constituent elements.

During his forty-year research, the artist has been able to experiment the improvements that have led from the analogical technology to the current digital technology, keeping the same quality of the achieved result.

Demonstration of this is his personal exhibition Solid Light Works, set until 31st of January at the LAC in Lugano, new centre of Art and Culture in the city of Canton Ticino, where there are four great works covering a time span of ten years, from 2003 to 2013, and among these even the digital version of his first work of 1973.

These works, installed in huge rooms completely darkened, welcome the visitor and attract him into their “interior”, made curious by the solid consistency of the volumes they create. McCall diffuses an artificial fog in the space, that emphasizes the corporeity of the luminous beams, which become a sort of essential immaterial architectures, “habitable” and physically attemptable spaces. It comes natural and instinctive the temptation to “touch” the light, as if it were a rigid but transparent membrane, in the same way that the crossing of these genuine veils of light disposes the observer towards a state of meditative and temporal total suspension, in a meditation able to bring back to conditions of great peace and inner serenity.

Photo credits:
Anthony McCall

1 |  Between You and I, 2006 Installation view, Peer/The Round Chapel, London, 2006 Photograph by Hugo Glendinning
2 |  Doubling Back, 2003 Installation view, Whitney Biennial, New York, 2004 Photograph by Hank Graber
3 |  Face to Face, 2013 Installation view, Sean Kelly Gallery, New York, 2013 Photograph by Jason Wyche_01
4 |  Face to Face, 2013 Installation view, Sean Kelly Gallery, New York, 2013 Photograph by Jason Wyche_02
5 |  Line Describing a Cone, 1973 Installation view, Musee de Rochechouart, France, 2007 Photograph by Freddy Le Saux
6 |  Line Describing a Cone, 1973 Installation view, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, 2001 Photograph by Hank Graber
7 |  Long Film for Four Projectors, 1974 Installation view, 2003 Photograph by Hank Graber_01
8 |  Long Film for Four Projectors, 1974 Installation view, 2003 Photograph by Hank Graber_02
9 |  You and I, Horizontal (III), 2007 Computer, QuickTime movie file, two video projectors, two haze machines
10 | You and I Horizontal, 2005 Installation view, Institut d’Art Contemporain, Villeurbanne, France, 2006 Photograph by Blaise Adilon

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