The Sublime Light & Dark: Concepts behind the installations.

The vision for this work will be a two-room “diptych” installation. It is an immersive installation expressing sublime experiences of light and darkness.

Photo-sensitivity and hyper-awareness are catalysts for the work.

Room ONE is a room of overwhelming immersion inside a space of digital projections (described below)


The Sublime Light & Dark:

An Experiment in Disrupted Projection.

Light as Content, Light as Medium, Light as Process

An Installation by Valerie Xanos

This work is about a personal relationship with light and dark. The photographs are taken at night and intended to express conflicting and sublime emotions about the nature of light and dark and the physical/psychological responses of the artist. The viewer is meant to experience the space. So please walk around and engage.

This was the invitation posted outside of the installation. Viewers pushed aside a black, light-blocking curtain at the doorway and entered a small, dark room lit only by projections of digital images. Projections were cast on the walls, ceiling, and floor all around the room. The images changed in a timed sequence of different speeds and rhythms. Various objects were installed around the space at different levels of height and depth. The objects were chosen for their qualities of interacting with light: reflective, diffusive, and transparent. These captured the projections, creating different effects around the room. I thought of the objects as “disruptors” because of the ways they interacted with the projections. The disruptors were commonplace household things such as cheesecloth, aluminum, coffee filters, and plexiglass. I hoped to use them in such a way that they became abstracted shapes and textures as part of the architecture of the room. Viewers were invited to walk around, engage with the space, become immersed, and thus be “disruptors” themselves.

This slide show gives an explanation of the concepts behind the installation along with several images documenting the viewing.

Room TWO is immersive but contemplative. Instead of overwhelming the participant, it is meant to be an “in-between place” of removed meditation, a room of observation where animations provide “portals” to alternate dimensions/universes of sublime light and dark visions.

Click this link to see the ROOM 2 work in progress:

Visions of Alternate Worlds (Untitled for now)


My influences range from stories of magic and mythology, to sci-fi novels and movies, to actual science – which makes me think about how light itself travels and can harness a form of space/time travel. Concepts of falling into rabbit holes, being lost in fairy lands, underworlds, and alternate dimensions are used as a metaphor for my own alienation and alternative perception of the world of light and dark.  This installation is not about time travel or alternate dimensions, rather using time/space ideas, stories, and science as a vehicle for the immersive experience of the viewer. The images in the videos are inspired by images from outer space as well as inner cellular structures and intended to express my own conflicting experience with light and darkness not only in an “alien” outside world, but within my own body’s reactions.

Sound and Visiona David Bowie song, that has spoken to me for decades about “electric blue” and a sense of isolation. I have obsessed with this song anew as I’ve been working on the plans.

Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey had an amazing episode all about the physics of light and the theories around space/time travel as it relates to light (there is a brilliant connection between time travel and photography at the very end that gave me the chills). You can watch it on Netflix or read the transcript at the link.

As for other influences: there are so many…  gathered from decades of exposure to these concepts of alternate realities, dimensions, and hyper-perception. Here are some foremost in my mind:

A Wrinkle in Time

A Swiftly Tilting Planet

Martian Chronicles

Parable of the Sower


Blade Runner

Pan’s Labyrinth


American Gods

Ocean at the End of the Lane

Mythology from around in the world (in particular, Nigerian/Greek/Celtic/Norse/Native American/)

Dr. Who

Star Trek/Star Wars

Other Links that may be of interest:

Light and the Eye

Light Sensitivity

A Guide to Artificial Lighting

Alfred North Whitehead philosophy of Proprioception and Prehension

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