The Unique Properties of Lasers in Art

Have you ever thought about light, particularly light amplified by stimulated emission of radiation? Probably not, but you may think lasers are cool and want to learn more about them. If that’s the case, then you actually have considered Light Amplified by Stimulated Emission of Radiation—it’s an acronym for laser! Who knew?!

Since the first laser was demonstrated in 1960, they have revolutionized our lives—from adding precision and efficiency to industries such as healthcare, agriculture and manufacturing to enhancing experiences such as live concerts and performances.

At ARTECHOUSE, we use lasers as a medium to create art. In our installation Intangible Forms, artist Shohei Fujimoto manipulates lasers and light beams to create mesmerizing experiences. He finds the brightness of the laser to be powerful and utilizes its unique properties to create “visual experiments.”

So what makes lasers such a unique light source? We collaborated with Laser Classroom and The Optical Society to help us get to the bottom of what makes lasers so special.

Unique Property of Lasers #1: Lasers are Monochromatic

Lasers are unique because they are monochromatic, which is a fancy way of saying they are composed of only one wavelength of light. This is unique because most light sources that we know like the sun, a light bulb and even an LED screen are composed of multiple wavelengths of light.

Unique Property of Lasers #2: Lasers are Coherent

Lasers are unique because they are coherent, which essentially means that their waves are all in phase with one another, or, synchronized—the peaks and troughs of the waves all align and never intersect.

Unique Property of Lasers #3: Lasers are Collimated

Lasers are unique because they are collimated. That is, laser light travels in a very narrow beam. This is unique because most like we see is dispersed and spreads out a great degree from their source.

Unique Property of Lasers #4: Lasers are Really Bright

Lasers are unique because they are insanely bright, brighter than the sun bright! This is why it is important to never look directly at a laser.

Lasers in Art

The very specific nature of lasers opens up a whole world of abstract visual language and unique immersive sensory experiences that artists like Shohei Fujimoto create in their art.

All of these special qualities of lasers result in a very bright beam of light that is a solid color.

For Shohei Fujimoto, this intensity allows him to create visual forms with light that are both intangible yet almost appear tangible to the eye.

This can be best seen in power of one#empty where the laser cube appears to be an almost solid frame continuously floating in front of the projection.

The laser performance intangible#form heavily relies on the laser light beam’s bright, straight and single-color properties. The nature of the laser light enables Shohei Fujimoto to create movement and shapes that are both simple yet defined. Utilizing the straight lines of light, he is able to create moving pillars, patterns and grids, as well as undulating waves, curves and spheres.

The bright red light beams featured in Intangible Forms also allow Shohei Fujimoto to play with what he calls margins, that is, the absence of light as it fades to darkness.

As a result, the overall optical experience is a very tantalizing and hypnotic one. Visitors are invited to get lost in the movement and patterns that the laser presents.

With lasers, we can begin to open up a whole world of abstraction, immersion, and genre-bending art discourse – three elements integral to Shohei Fujimoto’s work Intangible Forms.

Intangible Forms by Shohei Fujimoto is on view through Oct 14, 2020. Book now.

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