Polarizer Artwork

  • The Idea
    • Making small abstract artworks that consist of hand cut linear polarizer film adhered to glass sheets and installed with a lightbox.
    • The pieces look gray and monochrome when viewed with the naked eye, but when viewed through another polarizing filter, they animate and display a gradient of black to light gray, and they can also display colors.
    • It's a bit hard to explain, so here is an example video or see the one below.
  • Why do I like this idea? Is this a tech demo to explore a novel application, or something more significant?
    • I haven't made a lot of physical artwork before. I'm not great at drawing, but there is something soothing about the working process with these materials and making some abstract artworks.
    • I've always enjoyed the sense of surprise that you get from viewing linear polarizers
    • While many artists have explored this medium in different ways over the last 50 years. I find myself drawn to making something with my own take on the material. Other artists I've seen working with linear polarizers include Austine Comarow, Karina Smigla-Bobinski, and Flavien Thery. Austine has a page that gets into much more detail on the physics involved in creating this visual effect.
  • What do I have so far?
    • I have actually made 4 of these pieces on 8.5x11" pieces of glass. They are in very cheap frames with just paper backing at the moment.
    • The current works are mostly just grayscale, but I have also started to experiment with integrating color. Mentioned above, Austine Comarow was able to figure out a very solid approach to figuring out how to get specific colors - I think a lot of it has to do with the thickness of the cellophone and how much that changes the light wavelength, but I'm only able to approximate it by layering multiple layers of clear tape on top of eacother.
  • Next Steps/Where I'm stuck
    • I would like to either donate or display the pieces somewhere in a gallery or other venue.
    • In order to display, I need to get some (probably custom) lightboxes made that can hold the glass elements and provide some diffuse lighting behind the polarizing filters. Unfortuantely, I don't have a workshop or access to tools, so getting someone to make me some lightboxes would probably cost several hundred per piece (at a minimum), or maybe there is an off the shelf product I could use and hack together.
    • I also need to determine a way for viewers to look through the film. One option is to hang the film a few feet in front of the artwork. However, additional cool effects can be discovered by viewers if they rotate the viewing film while looking at the artwork.
  • Technologies Involved
    • Linear polarizing film
    • LED lightboxes
  • Logistical thoughts
    • Mostly need to find a fabrication partner who can help me make some nicer enclosures for the pieces, and probably someone to help make some decent holders for the polarizer filters.
  • Are there other elements that could make this better?
    • Larger pieces, motorized rotating polarizer sheets behind the artwork. Other color elements. 3D pieces (maybe elements embedded in clear resin.)
  • Diagrams, Images, Photos
    • Images of all of the pieces I've made so far, and a short video of rotating a polarizer in front of the camera lens to demonstrate the movement that results in the colors of the polarizer shards

Selected Works

Pen Plotter WorkPersonal Projects

Circle DrawingsPersonal Project

Polarizer ArtworkPhysical artwork with linear polarizers

TV TelescopeWatching TV from a mile away

Extruded ScreenFiber optic filament display

You're on TVLive TV face swap

i miss you, neighborConnecting local strangers and friends

Self Destructive BehaviorScreen that slowly breaks itself

Hold TimePersonal photo blitz

Movie Stickers100,000 stickers in a room

7up | Music Lifts You UpCommercial Work

Google | Project Re:BriefCommercial Work

Shen Wei Dance ArtsArts Collaboration

Lexus | Trace Your RoadCommercial Work

IBM | Outthink Hidden ARCommercial Work

Samsung | Liquid CanvasCommercial Work

Other Professional WorkVarious Projects

Color A SoundAnalog/digital Instrument

Fake LoveFormer Experience Design Company

Sonic SculpturesPersonal Projects

street_crtPersonal Projects

Music VideosCollaborative video art

Older WorkPersonal Projects

Older Live Visuals WorkAudiovisual explorations 2006-2016