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Architecture goes beyond the building. The total dependence of the built in the architectural field relative to architects represent a limited and yet ironic attitude towards the profession because "the building" represents only a minimal percentage of what Architecture truly is. This research questions the true architectural invention, the next step for the once protected master mason and the missing piece in translating the architect's invention to that of other architectural contributors such as artists and physicists. From optical art to optical architecture, defines the gap between these two distanced, yet mutually beneficially related manifestations of light as an architectural medium.
Natural phenomena have long inspired the design of architectural space. From the past to our century the concepts of matter in art and architecture have changed many times but the assumed potential of matter has not. Independently or together, art and architecture both featured good examples of architectural discipline, the relations between the two explored various fields and the application of light was one of them. The ambition to recreate aspects of light to transform space and include the viewer as an integrated part of a complete work of art shares the same interest and starting point around which this research develops. There are many successful demonstrations of this approach by architects and designers such as László Moholy-Nagy and Julio Le Parc whilst artists and architects like P.K. Hoenich and Thomas Wilfred managed to represent their art through the same play of light reflections and caustics analysed in this research. Some of the most interesting applications of light-architecture by Albert Speer and the recent intervention by Troika design studio gently modulate into the direct aim or this research yet their application doesn't live up to the full potential of the light caustics phenomenon. Whilst over a historical period Optical Art developed considerably, architects still lacked in applying these same specific characteristics of light as to generate architecture, instead limited the generation of light-architecture only to simple light application whilst many others used light only as a superficial application, an afterthought applied to architecture. Whilst the exploration of light and light caustics in art advocates a functionalist understanding, where the fulfilment of the function represents beauty, architecture requires something more complex that goes beyond the projection onto a screen.
In the post-digital age, our design approach has become as important as what we design. Never before have there been such variation in techniques and methodologies, all with the potential to overcome barriers we never imagined. Designing has become a multidisciplinary language delving into new fields of inspiration and understanding that for centuries have been completely distant from architecture. Post-digital designers more often design by manipulation than by determinism, and what is designed has become more curious, intuitive, speculative and experimental. Each of these new techniques struggles for dominance in the competitive world of advanced tooling. The type of exploration this research undertakes in the optical field and the use of light as the only fundamental medium aims to transfer from art knowledge to the architectural discipline. This study sets a continuation to optical art and a starting point towards optical architecture, whilst researching and unfolding the past it will focus towards a further intricate and developed relationship between light and architecture, light and space, the virtual and the physical.
Hunting The Light
A historic outline on how light has fascinated artists and architects throughout the years - Who was important? What were the historical visions, ambitions and achievements? This chapter explains the un-exploited visions, how are caustics going to be used and how this research is going to take these un-developed visions and develop them further - Why Not Architecture? Discussing the subject of immaterial architecture, where light forms spaces, the immaterial space and how in the past such architecture was used to exploit its strong '"power" to send a messages and strengthen a political agenda. Discussing the true power of optical architecture in the past - present - future.
For many architects and artists, the ideas and approach towards their 'artistic language' evolve over time, from project to project. The conceptual understanding and search for form somehow mutate over time, evolve over experience and what first appears in an initial attempt might grow and change into another. Architecture, in its traditional definition, relies on stability and reassurance - physically and psychologically. Whilst material and the design process are envisioned to be inseparable, architects started following an addiction, an inspirational tool; light. Somehow light represented the next fascination and challenge in line for architects to overcome. The architectural rigid approach towards light was somehow limiting such exploration whilst art provided a niche where light can be created and controlled in bringing back excitement and emotion, surprise and mystery to architecture.
Enabling us to see, stimulates and shapes our surrounding, light and form represent a cohesive interweaved relation conditioning our world, our perception and the way we feel. (Major, Speirs, & Tischhauser, 2005) Revealing shape, colour, beauty and form, light determines the visual boundaries defining the formal from the formless yet provides a direct exploration of a visual illuminated world, an integral part of architecture where both together strive to transmit not only an understanding of scale and form but also a physical experience of the virtual. Optical illusion formed part of a concept for kinetic art, the first attempt to visualise unreality, visual perception- virtual vs. tangible.
It seems futile to dispute how strongly art takes a lead in the application and exploration of the perceptive qualities of light. A field of scientific theories and analysis, which are as complex as art, light represents the ideal medium for artists and architects. Through history light was used to design experience, yet still visual but wishing to be perceptive, it pursued the artists' continuous investigation of reality as a practice leading to form, space and architecture. In 'Light is the Theme', Louis Kahn expresses his strong "devotion" towards light and describes it as if it was the purpose to generate form, organisation, space and nature.
' All material in nature, the mountains and streams and the air and we, are made of light which has been spent, and this crumpled mass called material casts a shadow, and the shadow belongs to Light.' (Kahn & Johnson, 2011)
Like many other architects and artists, Louis Kahn derived inspiration and motivation from light. The idea that everyone and everything is 'made of light' pushed creativity and curiosity for decades resulting in an infinite search of many towards an exploration of an illuminated world, space and experience. Until the invention of the industrialised lighting, architecture and light represented a limited relationship deriving solely from natural light. The industrial light innovation gave rise to a new form of architecture and illumination evoking further questions of where such invention would lead. Up until the early 20th century artists and architects questioned, analysed and explored this phenomena and architects like Duchamp and Man Ray were amongst the first to mark a defined abandonment of the traditional painted works and explore the new media, motion and light, in creating a new art of time through the fourth dimension. This marked the new era where art provided a new combination - light and mechanics. However, the mastering and adaptation of light towards a search of space, whether in design, art or both, yielded with the optical machine by László Moholy-Nagy; Light-Space Modulator. Combining film, photography and mechanics Moholy-Nagy attempted to move beyond techniques by mastering light and motion to achieve shifts within an innovative tool of space development and achieving a new layer of understanding light and space. This marriage of light, optics and mechanics started to represent a distinctive drive for architects willing to add themselves this layer of space sophistication and exploration within the application of light.
In the development of the 'colour organ' (visual music) by Thomas Wildred; the 'sun projections' by P.K. Hoenich in Haifa and the light installations of Le Parc, the experimental approach towards light becomes evident in its limited application. Light is used exclusively for its projective properties (memories of the "old" painting canvas). (Hayward Gallery, 2000) Shiny reflective materials featured the "magical" properties of optical art whilst light itself remained raw and independent from the space surrounding it. While all works including the application of light have effects on one's perception and experience, certain projects are definitely more prolific than others. Moholy-Nagy's Light-Space Modulator shows a specific interest in designing affective special interaction with light - an experimental architectural application of light that maximise its affects and hence responsiveness to users and contexts. Moholy-Nagy suggests the focus on the creation of affective light-space formations fully exploiting the technological possibilities of that time and which differentiated within the terms of art and architecture of the time. Whilst light kept its mysterious and inspirational qualities in optical art, not all architects and artists started questioning light and space and whilst traditional boundaries were still evident in some, others started questioning known historical, cultural and technological limitations and explored a new form of relationship between complex levels of light manipulation and architecture.
light of the virtual
The true nature of light as a phenomenon reveals its "magic" through many effects. In nature we find the aurora borealis caused by direct collision of solar and air particles, light and space, two formless matters emitting an intense "magic" in the sky. Each aspect of the relationship between light and architecture can be equally described as "magic". Franco Purini's Il Cielo expressed the impulse of architecture as a new form of reality. Trying to articulate postmodern architecture into an amazing and beautiful drawing, Purini adopted Modernist ethics through the very nature of his art addressing the sky (which its self also being very important) as an extension to earth. Abstract figures influenced from architectural shapes fill the skies just as an expression of a new generation of existence, a clear representation of a world depending not only on space but also on light as an extension to our know boundaries. It is our preoccupations, obsessions and passions that lead us to our most original perspectives. Echoes from Moholy-Nagy's Light-Space Modulator are somehow evolved and lead to the most original creative art by Julio Le Parc. Le Parc's works recall such vision of light and space yet the light expression becomes more interesting, complex and no longer singly object dependent. The single beam of light and its reflections generated 'creates the endlessly intricate deployment of lines of light across the surface.' (Hayward Gallery, 2000) The aesthetic capacity of light and elaborate reflections explore space and interact with the visitor.
The emotive expression with a wide range of experimentation is clearly evident in P.K. Hoenich's Sun Art. Whilst describing them as a free to all tool or method to develop self expression, Hoenich freely presents a wide range of expressive art visuals which from pleasurable to horrific, from playful to delightful transmitted emotional beauty through its sublime characteristics alongside the presence of the natural. For the very first time Hoenich managed to represent his art through light reflections which happened in everyday life, through his mastery in combining natural phenomena, art and mechanics. Natural instances such as sunset or sunrise were interrupted and somehow managed to bypass the course of nature in achieving his artistic expression. The use of one's free imagination and personal judgment infused with creative insight has been perceived through Thomas Wilfred's Clavilux, and his ' colour music'. Wilfred brings an analogue design process into the discussion towards a virtual visual. Whilst art involving such complex application of light started facing an unknown barrier, that using reflection and direct light started gaining momentum in the search of space and experience. Specific light effects such as refractions and caustics always lacked the full engagement with the architecture. While Moholy-Nagy and Le Parc started questioning the volumetric intentions that would have lead us to the most original creative architecture, others produced 'perpetually changing paintings; and projections on the walls of dark rooms.' (Hayward Gallery, 2000) Puzzlingly enough these architects and artists opted to focus and base their creative activity in light discipline more on the self-expression and stop at image level. The challenging shortcomings in light application and lack of technological tools are evident in the translation of these artworks into the architectural field but were less evident in the field of art. The application of light reflections and caustics brings closer the surrealist characteristics of the sky down to our feet and transmits the luminous sky light to the user. In the same way how the sky becomes animated in Bompas' Love Shack, enlivening the experience of the place.
This research does not aim to give an answer or an end to a new definition of architecture, only because uncertainty can only be defeated through extensive experimentation, yet it provides a series of observations and experiments gradually developing through a continuous design research, will explore various approaches to envision and apply caustics as a powerful tool unfolding, expanding and transforming a truly innovative architectural geometry. Just like Purini's vision of an architectural sky as an extension of our planet, the vision of optical architecture opens a new world of architectural luxury. The "caustic globe" will go beyond all known historical precedents in terms of qualitative application of light to architecture relationship and light will generate a new form of reality, a new generation of architectural existence.
forming the formless
The Western theoretical approach depends on a strong dualist mentality. This secular theoretical vision tending towards dual comparison assumes that opposites are separate and distinct, one side completely independent and alien from the other, hence for example, philosophy is considered to be immaterial just like light whilst architecture is seen as purely material. The strong influential concept that light is nothing but immaterial, intangible and lacks structure concludes that its inapplicability to architecture was because it denied the solid materiality of how architecture has always been represented. This encouraged architects to chase after an artistic status that they would never fully attain architecturally. It is clear that such limited dual distinctive realities are per se 'fake' and sometimes replaces the real with a fictitious representation of a reality that never existed. Space manipulation defines one of the fundamental characteristics of modernism but it was just after Gottfried Semper's question about what identifies "space" that Modernism acquired such fascination. Semper's definition of space generated through the enclosure by surfaces of little substance marked the beginning of a journey towards architecture and the immaterial. (Hill, 2006)
Whilst early modernist architects considered space as the fundamental element defining architecture, other rejected such a limited attitude towards something such dynamic as architecture and, associated with Semper's vision, represented architecture as a continuation of time - a dynamic spatial extension. Moholy-Nagy's understanding of space relied on light and its development in the field of art and physics. Questioning once more the linear understanding of space as an extension to one's experience, this research accumulates technique and understanding of light behaviour and achieving full control on it to be used as medium of space-creating relations. The principle means of creation of space, where light becomes the "material" of immaterial architecture. Hidden and interconnected in one another, the terms material and immaterial become unclear, and instinctively one starts questioning the true meaning of intellectual and manual, form and formless, real and virtual. Few people today share the same Plato's approach referring to matter as modelled on ideal forms but certainly the association of the formless and immaterial with the intellectual is common. (Hill, 2006) The Platonic duality of combining ideas forming the immaterial is easily associated with the formless - intangible, same qualities attributed to light from which its fascination is derived. But formless is not absence and hence the desire to achieve an application for light at an architectural level should avoid stopping as a figuration or simulation, we must avoid the digital design endpoint and must manage to articulate a purely original architecture beyond the figurative rendering. The approach of this study and design is not about immaterial alone or the immaterial as an opposition to the traditional architectural approach, instead I delve in an architecture that embraces the immaterial and material, the form and the formless going beyond simulation and representation. Inspired by Moholy-Nagy's search for space through light, Optical Architecture reverses virtual the relationship between solid and immaterial, architecture and light so that objects appear ethereal and space tangible. (Hill, 2006)
Following the exploration of light in art one starts to question its past exploration on a larger scale. Since the early twentieth century ideas have been pushed from personal to factual. The question whether architecture was immaterial started becoming dependent on perception, which involved creative interpretation, and greater reliability on the communicative aspect of architecture. Whilst the use of architecture as defiance of gravity, as symbol of power becoming a trademark for religious and political propaganda is quite known, few are aware of the application of light architecture to achieve the same, or even stronger, communicative powers. Some of the most interesting and flawless expression of light architecture formed part of the Nazi propaganda and was designed by Albert Speer for the 1934 Nazi Party Rally at Nuremberg. Highly inspiring for this research, Speer's architecture used to attain its full glory after dark when exterior becomes interior and architecture instantly imposes its presence. Walled in by giant swastika banners, the square was open at the top to the night sky whilst the searchlights would be switched on closely spaced around the outside of the ramparts forming a Lichtdom, a cathedral of light five miles high. Speer states how he started his search for this strong communicative application of light architecture a year before at the Hamelin rally where he pioneered his strong concept. At Hamelin, however, he had only ordinary theatrical floodlights to play with and hence it was the searchlights and the extraordinary scale that gave the Nuremberg rally its dubious title to being the apotheosis of Versammlungsarchitektur - Speer's term for the architecture that brought people together. Remarkably, in many photos of this rally, like the great Saint Peter's square at the Vatican, Speer's Light Cathedral thrilled and expressed a sense of collectivity and power to the visitor through size and grandeur. Just like churches, the Zeppelinfeld where Speer designed and implemented his Light Cathedral, was a place of repressed freedom, personal expression, democracy and peculiar mass rituals, which are reminiscent of spiritual and mental supplication. Speer's Light Cathedral moved the eye and soul upwards, inspiring a longing for wider horizons of knowledge and belonging. In his book about his own architecture, published in Frankfurt in 1978, Speer makes great play with the idea that the buildings he designed for Hitler arose out of practical politics rather than ideology. The Nazis spent a lot of time getting together, so a Nazi building had to be a gathering place where everyone could become 'impressed with itself'.
"The actual effect far surpassed anything I had imagined. The hundred and thirty sharply defined beamsâ€¦ were visible to a height of twenty to twenty-five thousand feetâ€¦ the beams serving as mighty pillars of infinitely high outer walls. â€¦ I imagine that this 'cathedral of light' was the first luminescent architecture of this type, and for me it remains not only my most beautiful architectural concept, but, after its fashion, the only one which had survived the passage of time." - Albert Speer
The much avant-garde application of light as a building "material" undoubtedly resulted in great architecture and just like the surrealist movement, understood and bloomed out of exploiting the seductive and powerful potential of light and simultaneously achieving emblematic and powerful architecture. This desire to celebrate memory and authentic spiritual empowerment was also the same that drove the application of light architecture as a temporary tribute for the World Trade Centre dramatic ruin site. This example of a recent architectural design application illustrates precisely the same potential used by Speer. Besides the extraordinary scale characterising these two applications of light as architecture, one can also observe a continuous line of thought towards the true powers of this immaterial architecture that go beyond the issue of size or scale. Arcades is an example of a recent light experiential installation by design studio Troika at the Interieur design biennale in Kortrijk, Belgium. The Arcades installation was formed from 14 light columns that shine upwards in thin bars before passing through Fresnel lenses. Through an evident complete mastering to the light beams, the lenses refract the light in a series of graduating angles, creating the illusion of curving light forming gothic arches. Although representing different architectural scales, the desire to celebrate space is what constitutes a specific, shared, distinctive light architecture. These architects are showing that, for all their diversity and in context and time, it is possible to realise a unique architecture through light. Consciously or unconsciously, in ways appropriate to their specific scope of their architecture, these architects went beyond the logic barrier of defining between the 'tangible' and the 'formless' and started a new system of interaction as the foundation for the development of a new light architectural language.
"The arcade of light lies between the intangible and physical, the visible and the seemingly impossible," the designers explained. "It asks the viewer to pause and contemplate the surrounding space whilst promoting openness rather than closure."
Although architecture is a "language" to be expressed and experienced freely, we are increasingly moving towards a unique and personal architecture. An architectural language that goes deep inside ones soul and somehow light manages to embrace such understanding. The intention of this research is to explore this poetic potential and re-boost this forsaken dimension in contemporary architecture in achieving exceptional spaces. This research focuses on an alternative potential of development through contemporary tools whilst outlining the achievements and learning from the past, yet translating it to 21st century. As in the past, architects today assume that space defines architecture and such a conception of space locates the application of light in experience rather than abstraction. Optical Architecture starts when the intangible values of light become important to architecture as the main design tool utilising all achievements and understandings gained through history.
The Caustic Tool
An introduction to the concept of Optical Architecture, further ambitions and design visions. After the historical similarities and inspirational application of light, this chapter provides an introduction to caustics; a description of phenomena and the true potential of light envisioned in such condition, description and research analysis towards a new form of architecture. This chapter offers a walk through the research tools and arising questions.
The conventional boundaries between the arts and architecture have become finer and less evident. The arising question immediately becomes how to mark these boundaries - till what extent we consider art and when does architecture start? The study of light caustics represents the perfect exponent of this question. Whilst the caustic projections evoked a visual expression of volumetric quality, these gradually turned into visual qualities and never explored. Through the concept of Optical Architecture these questions are evoked again, the experimentation and analysis are used in getting closer towards an answer; the answer lies as the fundamental goal of this research.
The application of light caustics challenges the traditional "cosmetic" application of light and represents a more sophisticated approach towards the creation of form. Optical illusions from varying angles with respect to different geometries can be amplified; developing an understanding of the resultant caustic light curves can eventually achieve a visual understanding of form that has no aesthetic relation with the geometry producing it. The abstract images generated are the refraction patterns formed when light passes through various shaped and formed plastics, glass or liquid. By careful control and manipulation of the forming process, semi-regular patterns and delicate tracery can be achieved.
This research does not follow any historical narrative but does contain a historical prelude, which gives way to a more substantial investigation of the natural and artificial light's contribution to architecture. Whilst light continues to be used through traditional methods, optical theories become bound to throw into question the limited application of light in architecture that is not using the full potential of this phenomenon.
Choreography of light
Examining the generative evolution and mutation of light as a simple behavioural phenomenon (see appendix p.1), yet achieving such complex and highly elaborate light patterns, was the beginning of a journey towards the application of such behaviour in the field of art and the creation of a new dimension for architecture. Feeding us all sorts of caustic patterns to explore, develop and expand in the field of architecture, light becomes the most important element of the system to achieve these patterns. The background to this research is in part the result of a question about one's perception with regards to light caustics. Is it utopian and/or idealistic, or even practical to try to generate such a complex answer and start thinking about the "solidity" of light through design?
The study starts with the definition of the term Caustics and a learning attitude towards it. Light caustics immediately become experience caustics, light mutation presented itself as an unbelievably wide-ranging term that has been around for time, analysed but never expressed, applied but never experienced. This research focuses on what interaction is possible between the solid shape and the virtual projection, possible interactions between spatial design aspects and caustics. Focusing on the effect of refracted light and its generation in daily life, one started controlling and "choreographing" a caustic "dance routine" on a personal, yet experimental, exploration into this palette of infinite combinations. Leading artists have interpreted their own vision of light to achieve highly complex visual representations. Describing caustics as "magical patterns" (Collet, Spellbinding Light by Alan Jaras) Jaras represents a contemporary understanding of light and material. Science is a strong tool helping him reach a high level of "control" and prediction whilst through his art he stimulates the viewer a sense of contact, of questioning reality, but at the same time, an experience of the unrecognizable. Inspired by Man Ray's own style of camera-less photography, and Moholy-Nagy's visual exploration of light and space, Jaras' work suggested how photography, demonstrating play of light and form, is still valid today.
Whilst on one hand there was the effort and exploration of caustics by various artists in history, on the other there was the strong will to question what was already achieved. Delving into the filed of art itself and experimenting through hands-on analogue methods enabled higher understanding of the phenomenon to be able to simulate and go a step further then what others had already done. When talking about light caustics as a visual collective representation of light, the meaning of such phenomenon and the dispersion of scientific information is of course always implicitly present. However, this proposal is to explicitly shifting from the perspective of an outsider, who can only oversee an aesthetic representation, to the subjective application on translating such visualisation into architecture. Imagining this phenomenon only as a theoretical formula, a scientifically defined method of specific viewpoints towards the generation of caustics drove this research towards the Architectural Caustics study by the École Polytechnique Fédérale De Lausanne (EPFL). These studies focused on the investigation of specific manipulated surface generated caustics, controlling caustics as any other design element through optimised geometry. (Kiser, Eigensatz, Nguyen, Bompass, & Pauly) Whilst the experimental possibilities are infinite, EPFL's research represented a contained, controlled and sterile approach towards this phenomenon.
Whilst this research considers EPFL's study as highly valid and inspirational in the level of complete control of this fascinating light phenomenon, yet it marked a clear trail in moving away from the goal-based caustics manifestation towards a more dynamic and subtle research to instate caustics as an architecture generating tool.
The Multifaceted Light
The search of computerised simulated complexity per se is, at present, most often a rather shallow approach. The term 'caustics' has been widely used in the digital simulation rendering systems vocabulary, but its qualities have been under-investigated in the discourse of contemporary architectural design exploration. Pushing further Thomas Wilfred's Clavilux and P.K. Hoenich's Sun Art idea of delightful transmitted emotional beauty through caustics for the first time the use of computer-generated tools was optimised taking full advantage of its inbuilt physics engine to obtain a more accurate and analytical study.
The multifacetedness of light caustics is spectacular. Today's digital simulation tools offer sufficient backing for the most obscure approaches towards this light behaviour that was never implemented before. Having built enough technical understanding in order to be able to feed specific parameters to such engine becomes a virtual drive of a natural phenomenon. There is no conceivable artistic niche which has not sparked a development and application of light, visual art, drama, dance, kinetic art; light is a multidiscipline extravaganza yet architecture now stands in full lead in finding a constructive and critical application.
Caustic light simulation of specific geometric forms, further contribute to the light choreography research within the virtual spatial dimension. The unfolding and evolution of the caustic patterns acquire a different meaning, the evolution of the caustic curve (see appendix p.3) may not embody the volumetric qualities of a space yet complexities in the light mutation have been resolved into simple evolutions. The conventional boundaries between the final caustic projection and its potential special qualities started to blur. The "negative space" of the curve shapes an abstract, yet logical, gradation of such evolution translating a study of light into one of volume and space. The geometric shapes become a changing illusion three dimensionally. Gradually these new formations started turning into a volumetric spatial difference between light and dark - different measures of expression into clear and transparent transit spaces.
The quest of this research differed from the scientists' and mathematicians' main target to achieve the highest possible level of control and manipulation of caustics. At the same, the research established new and specific connections between the caustic patterns, which fascinated artists through history, and the mathematical aspect fascinating scientists, through the virtual.
All the research was based on practical experimentation through both analogue and digital simulation with a physical fabrication backing.
The early part of this study was set out towards the investigation of 'distorted reality'; a substantial research into rising questions and feed one's imagination through the bending, distortion and manipulation of light. The photographic research progression of caustics generation, from simple everyday objects to specific combinations of materials and colours, documented the initial widespread understanding and transformation of light perception. The curious combination of light types, altering light positions and surface patterns revealed unexpected structures within the medium of light forming semi-regular patterns and rather complex interlacing. The integration of liquids and coloured plastics into the tested objects, modified the way the plastic refracts light and hence the associated varies. The desire to translate such amusing visual complexity of light to architecture constituted a distinctive drive to work towards a new concept on the basis of visual perception. On the other hand there were specific optical rules and theories, which marked the conceptual limits of our experimentation and a good base for progressed analysis of light caustics simulation.
Specific geometrical 3-D shapes served as analytical bodies in generating a clear visual connection between the analogue results and the digital simulation. But surely, the search for digital simulation did not relate to any caustic analysis undertaken before, yet it provided an acceptable level of control in optimising light caustics result of much higher complexity. The focus of most computer graphics systems is aesthetics rather than scientific accuracy. Rendering systems supporting Caustics resulted as a good tool for data logging, specification understanding and mastering of the required conditions - from inaccurate to precise. Recording the shift in the projected caustic curves, position of object, light source and angle of incidence built sufficient information to further understand what shapes give which type of caustic curves, determining if there is a direct path to the light source and how this was changing.
In seeking to define accuracy and re-assess certain aspects of this phenomenon, this research engages in a continual serial exchange between the visual and the technical. The search to achieve a pre-defined final image represents a fascinating yet contradicting strategy against the versatility and the "uncontrollable" nature of the phenomena, killing its seductive and surrealist attributes.
Evolution of Caustic Curves
The basic caustic patterns generated by the simulations, reached the same visual characteristics achieved during the analogue analysis. Whilst simplified to basic geometries still the final result managed in conveying the perception of space and 3-Dimensional qualities typical of caustic curves. The generated curves varied to the slight shift in light, oscillation and inclination between the object, the light source and the projecting plane. Complexities of movement have been resolved into simple variations between the horizontal and vertical planes of projection. Image recording at every instant generated a breakdown of the volumetric evolution of the "flat" caustic pattern projection. A parallel approach can be found in the Record Trace Machine by Jamie Dobson where, through shifting of light, the machine interprets an entire music album as an evolving single waveform written in light.
Taking another step towards full advantage of computer simulations, caustic curves are mapped and analysed through an indirect process of evolution. In this region of study sufficient information is recorded to further understand the evolution of the caustic curves, determining if there is a direct path for light to follow and how this changes with distance. Creative approach went beyond the traditional, using plastics and optically clear materials formed the same visual "lightness" transmitted by the light through physical fabrication. Recording every instant of the caustic curve development on separate layers gave way for a precise, physical and geometric representation of its progression.