Japanese Artist Creates Ethereal Effect with Light Refracted from Stained-glass

Source: LightLive Blog

Japanese artist Tokujin Yoshioka opts for minimalism and presents to viewers a nine-meter-high stained glass window that run from floor to ceiling. (All Photo Courtesy of LightLive Blog)

The window is a key element in the design of sacred spaces. Coloured glass was used in Gothic cathedrals to bathe the church interior in a "divine" light that makes reference to the afterlife. Even in the 20th century the church window is still playing an important role, as shown in the design of a window at Cologne Cathedral by the painter Gerhard Richter.

Japanese artist Tokujin Yoshioka has taken this tradition to a new level. He is actually a designer, gaining prominence for his playful and minimalist designs, such as the polygonal-shaped Hook stool for the Italian furniture company Moroso or a wristwatch for the Japanese fashion label Issey Miyake. However, in recent years he has focussed increasingly on architecture, developing a keen interest in the relationship between light and the perception of space.

The artist utilizes geometry to emit multi-colored beams with stained-glass window. (All Photo Courtesy of LightLive Blog)

Mediterranean light show

And so the Rainbow Church project came to fruition. Yoshioka designed an art installation for the Museum of Contemporary Art in Tokyo - a nine-metre-high stained glass window that runs from floor to ceiling. Chapelle du Rosaire, a small monastery chapel built in 1951 based on plans by Henri Matisse, served as a major source of inspiration. Yoshioka visited the chapel during a business trip to Vence on the French Riviera, seeing for himself how the French painter Matisse had used blue, yellow and green glass surfaces in combination with black and white wall tiles. The three different colours of the stained glass windows were intended to portray elements of nature - the lemon yellow symbolising light, the dark green representing vegetation and the ultramarine blue depicting the sky. The Mediterranean light flowing in illuminates the chapel window and mixes the individual colours. The barren walls of the interior play host to a light show of multi-coloured surfaces whose geometry, brightness and tone changes constantly, depending on the sun.

The seeming art installation uses up to 500crystal prisms that refract the inflowing light to generate rainbow-colored light geometries. (All Photo Courtesy of LightLive Blog)

The colours of the rainbow

Drawing inspiration from the Chapelle du Rosaire, Yoshioka works with variations of light in the Rainbow Church. However, unlike Matisse, he relies on geometry rather than coloured surfaces to create the desired effect. The stained-glass window is made up of 500 crystal prisms that refract the inflowing light to produce rainbow-coloured light geometries. They fall on the ground, the walls and the ceiling, covering the room in a light that almost seems supernatural. The synergy of architecture and optical illusion produces a spatial kaleidoscope that transforms light into matter. In this way, the designer has succeeded in redefining the concept of the stained-glass window whilst simultaneously joining the ranks of a centuries-old tradition. 

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