FRArt Painting in light. An artistic exploration of new and uncanny properties of white light through a “quantum” light sourcePainting in light: introduction

  • type: Article
  • ref: DOC.2021.206
  • Date begin: September 1 2019

Color and light have long fascinated both artists and scientists. However, these two “disciplines” were fundamentally separated in the modern era, each one confined to its own methods, goals, and temporalities, and there are few examples of an approach to these phenomena that comprise both the artistic and the scientific.
The project carried out by Adrien Lucca may well represent a means of reconciliation. After spending ten years investigating the properties of color from an analytical and esthetic perspective, the artist’s interests shifted to the characteristics of white light. His research focused on developing a device that could produce such a light, apparently “neutral” and visually stable, whose spectrum he could then modulate to generate variations in the perception of colors of certain materials. Lucca in fact insists that the color of light and its effect on the color of objects are two independent parameters. By programming a light source’s wavelengths (in this case, using LEDs), he has been able to obtain pigment shifts from grey to pink, lemon yellow to white, red to green, etc.
He accomplished this through in-depth research and the use of colorimetry, computer programming, and lighting; his work also benefited from the support from a number of experts, including the chemist Thomas Pons, the designer Mathieu Zurstrassen, and the computer scientist Nathan Boulet.
In the fall of 2020, varying configurations of his “programmable white light  synthesizer” were presented at LMNO Gallery in Brussels, the Liège Public Art Triennale, and Villa Empain, also in Brussels. He is currently preparing a report for publication describing his research process, with all its trials, tribulations, and successes.
This initial research phase will also conclude with a two-day conference to be held on November 18-19, 2020, organized by Adrien Lucca and Marjolijn Debulpaep as part of a collaboration between their affiliated institutions (La Cambre and IRPA), which Villa Empain then also joined. These two days will focus on light and color, with particular attention on the fields of preventive conservation and art restoration. This event will help Lucca situate his discoveries within a broader cultural context, in which the manipulation of light also involves ethical and institutional questions of considerable, contemporary relevance. Ultimately, it is a call to restore the ties between the sciences and the arts that came unraveled in the modern era.