For our first project, we have been set with creating a sequence of images based on the idea of light and dark. Here I will briefly detail some ideas and approaches on the subject, use and meanings of light/dark which I find inspiring.

Upon considering the subject, the strongest associations I myself have with the ideas of light vs dark is that light reveals, while darkness hides. This can be interpreted literally, or metaphorically – for instance, the cloaking properties of darkness are often thematically linked to sinister or dangerous things. However, what interests me more is the ways these typical ideas can be subverted. Darkness, then, can also provide safety in its capacity to hide things, privacy in its ability to obscure, or calmness and quietness in its softening of busy detail.

Another example of subverting these usual associations is in Rene Magritte’s Empire of Light series:


In these paintings Magritte depicts day and night at the same time, in the form of a dark lamplit street beneath a daytime sky. The title comes from a poem by Paul Nouge, which unfortunately I was unable to locate. In these images, the usual positive associations of light are disrupted:

“Sunlight, ordinarily the source of clarity, here causes the confusion and unease traditionally associated with darkness. The luminosity of the sky becomes unsettling, making the empty darkness below even more impenetrable than it would seem in a normal context.”
– Lucy Flint 

These paintings are intriguing because here the light fails to reveal, leaving both light and dark equally inscrutable. The tiny artificial light of the streetlamp is more intimate and informative than the entire bright sky, which in contrast feels impersonal and disconnected, almost uninterested, in the scene beneath it. This suggests to me that the revealing properties of light have associated emotional resonance to us, acting as a metaphor for curiosity vs indifference, which could be of use in this project.

Title image source []
Body image source []