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Sijia Huang

Thesis: Colour as Light: Artificial Coloured Light in the Art of Dan Flavin, James Turrell, David Batchelor and Olafur Eliasson

Supervisors: Prof Paul Smith



BA in Theory and History of Art (Peking University)
MA in History of Art (University of York)



In 1938, General Electric Company announced the availability of fluorescent lamps. In the next decade, fluorescent lamps grew tremendously and displaced incandescent lamps. Compared with the yellow light of kerosene lamps and incandescent lamps, the spectrum of fluorescent lamps (and later LED lamps) is broader, including red, yellow, blue, green and pink. Colourful artificial light has been a new art medium since the early 1960s. Artists have explored the additive mixture, after-effects colours, spatial features, aesthetic value and cultural meanings of coloured light. Compared with colour as paint on a solid surface, colour as light is soft, elastic, floating in the air. We are immersed in the atmospheric colour instead of looking at it. Our phenomenological and psychological reactions to coloured light are uncertain. This research project will synthesise different disciplines to scrutinise the characteristic, perception and significance of artificial coloured light in the art of Dan Flavin, James Turrell, David Batchelor and Olafur Eliasson.