Lookit! Lookit! Lookit!” -Peppermint Patty
“I’m lookiting!” – Charlie Brown
Charles Schultz, Peanuts (2/18/63).
Sight. Insight. Foresight. Second sight. Sight unseen. To look. To see. Seeing is believing. I saw the light. From the time that a prehistoric artist carved a pattern of lines onto the side of a stone 40,000 years ago, humans have been creating art we can see with our own eyes. Paintings on the walls of caves led to paintings on the walls of temples and then churches. Then came tempera on wood panels, oils on stretched canvas and then every surface imaginable, from a human body to a subway wall, This was painting. Three dimensional objects embodied supernatural beings or the people and animals of the real world, then began to represent the human body, and to tell stories, and then to incorporate all the substances in the world. This was sculpture. Buildings were always the most practical—they had to function as dwellings or places of worship or seats of power, tombs and temples-but from the beginning, the appearance mattered. How it looked, not just how it performed its given task. This was architecture. Technology brought us pictures made with light and a camera—photography–and more technology brought us moving pictures—movies and television.
We started with the sun, reflecting light off the objects of our world and into our eyes. We saw lightning and fire, and we learned to capture flame and use it to light the darkness. We burned wood, coal, peat, various oils, then gases. We made electricity into light. No matter what the building is for, or the painting, sculpture, photograph or film is about, it is also about light—about the way light illuminates a face, or a shape, or a color, the way light (and its alter egos shadow and darkness) reveals and hides, tells the truth or lies to us.
Our eyes take it all in—or do they? The illusions of perspective, of three-dimensionality on a two-dimensional surface, the phenomenon, called persistence of vision, that allows us to see Muybridge’s Sallie Gardner galloping, or (spoiler alert) Kim Novak falling to her death the second time in Vertigo, these are tricks that light, in collusion with our primate brains, plays on our eyes.
Under the heading Visual Arts (see above), I have created multiple meta-lists for the following visual arts:
I hope you will explore.