Spectro Art

Made by Eunice Oh

Created: November 5th, 2014


Curatorial Statement

The composition portrays light passing through a cuvet in a UV visible spectrophotometer. The single beam of light is diffracted and splits into different wavelengths of light which then are measured by the machine. The emitted light splits into tiny packets of energy called photons, displaying the individual components. The machine then takes this emitted light and measures its absorbance. The instrument is capable of utilizing a single beam of light to find the concentration of its separate elements. The sample being measured is made up of various substances and this machine can isolate a certain individual component.

This piece captures the complex nature of everyday objects, but breaks them down into its simplest components. It is inspired by the Bauhaus art movement in its “honest” and “truthful” portrayal of this instrument. It uses distinct shapes, line, colors and textures to generate a more artistic element to this scientific process. The textured shapes give an impression as if it were actually painted on a canvas.

The instrument itself is efficient for observing the singular elements within the sample being measured, which represents the simple components that make up complex objects. We are not exempt from this statement, as complex as we as human being are. Chemically we are made up of the simplest of physical substances: atoms. The piece focuses on the chemical aspects of engineering and incorporates that into the universal fact that indeed everything is made up of something smaller and simpler. 



I decided to base my composition idea on what I was utilizing in the lab course I am currently taking. In this course I tested samples with varying instruments to determine concentrations and components of certain substances. The specific instrument I decided to use was the UV-visible spectrophotometer, a machine that measures the emitted light of the molecule and converts it into how much light it has absorbed. This absorbance can thus be used to calculate the concentration of what is being analyzed within the sample.

I researched the Bauhaus art movement as an inspiration for my artwork, creating a very structured piece of work utilizing various shapes and lines. Bauhaus artists such as Josef Albers utilized colors and geometric shapes into their pieces. His “color theory” greatly influenced my choice of color in representing the diffracting of the main beam of light as it passes through the sample. The juxtaposition of colored squares Albers’s Homage to the Square inspired me to also utilize individual shapes to make up the overall objects. To add more depth into my piece, I added texture to these geometric shapes to create a sensation similar to that of a painted canvas. I wanted to emulate Albers’s style in incorporating the palette knife textures into his paintings of the squares.

The shooting a beam of light and its separation when passing through the sample describes the process of breaking down complex substances into its simplest forms. In order to stay with the theme of simple forms, I decided to reflect that in my work by using as little detail as possible. Each shape is clearly defined and does not go beyond its shape. I tried to stay away from my usual painting to a more abstract and geometric style. I utilized very strong and vibrant colors; ones that would capture the audience upon first glance. This use of color for the light coming out of the sample represents both the actual process of spectrophotometry and the splitting of a complex object into its individual components.

The separation of light is simplified into basic polygonal shapes, to represent it in its most “honest” form without affecting its nature in any way. I believed that this would aid the audience in understanding the underlying meaning behind this piece. The light is in its most truthful form, so I decided to keep it as a single shape to represent a single beam of light. It was necessary to do so because I wanted to be able to convey the idea that anything complex can be reduced to its simplest form. 



Upon examining this art and engineering incorporated piece after taking this Visual Synthesis course, I have grown to understand the deeper meaning behind abstract art. I was able to observe the composition in a way that I had intended for it to be seen. The colors draw the eye first to the diffracted light and then slowly move into the cuvet and the original beam of light. The meaning seems clear enough, as I do understand how this instrument works. However, it was definitely difficult to see this piece objectively because I already know the intended meaning behind it.

Before taking this course, my view on this composition would have been very different from now. I would have tried to look at the statement before examining the piece and trying to understand for myself what the intended meaning was. I would not have thought to compare my own experiences with the piece and would thus have been quite lost as to my opinion on the artwork. I would definitely not have known to look deeper into the simple shapes that appeared on the canvas.