Light Break, Photography / Light Therapy
Light Break takes, as
its point of departure, the historical practice of medical phototherapy,
which doctor and Nobel laureate Niels Ryberg Finsen (1860-1904)
developed and practised in Denmark at the end of the nineteenth century.
This involvement with medical history has led visual artist Nicolai
Howalt into a field of photographic work where sunbeams hold central
importance. In individual one-off photographic pieces, Howalt
investigates and visualizes visible and invisible areas of the light
spectrum, and the power of the life-giving as well as destructive
radiation of sunlight.
Light Break is a documentary and aesthetic
encounter between photography, history, science and visual art. Nicolai
Howalt's methods and experiments reflect a fundamental interest in
photography and light as material, in this case making specific use of
scientific methods and apparatuses of the nineteenth century. During his
investigations, leading to the work presented in Light Break, Howalt
borrowed a number of Finsen’s original lenses from Medical Museion, now
part of the University of Copenhagen in Denmark.
Finsen’s method, and by making use of Finsen's original coloured filters
and lenses as well as contemporary coloured filters, Howalt was able to
absorb select areas of light from the sun, allowing the remaining areas
of the electromagnetic spectrum to pass through Finsen's original rock
crystal lenses onto photosensitive paper (C-print). This unique method
of light exposure resulted in a series of original imprints created by
the sunrays passing through unhindered, directly from the sun and onto
the paper. A universe unfolded, almost devoid of any subject matter,
depicting instead the raw impressions of the sun and of light itself.
Fabrik Books 2015