wrapping light

"Issue": 064

Currently, I am laying across a giant bean bag underneath the large windows of the Eternal office. The light is soft. Clouds almost seem still from my angle, perhaps I’m not allowing myself to look at them long enough. There are no other lights on in the space. Everything is being touched by what comes through the glass.

James Turrell is my favorite artist, I don’t believe this is a secret by any means. More and more, I’ve been thinking about my relationship to light. How it makes me feel, the different sources I receive it through, how every app bends light to communicate something.

James has talked about light as a form of therapy on several occasions. His quaker roots reinforcing this value.

In my own understanding and spirituality, God is referenced as light throughout the Bible. And this, I must believe, is my attraction to the pureness of the medium and its inherent properties.

Lately, I’ve been incredibly frustrated by my computing devices. For no discernible reason… but today I was meditating on why the pixels that emanate from our screens have both the draw of many light forms — yet feels so incredibly different.

In expressing this frustration and meditation to my girlfriend, she brought out the ways we are looking to avoid the very light that we seem to be constantly consuming. Blue light glasses, dark mode… dark mode in particular feels compelling to pull at because of the level of demand we require this design style be integrated across every digital product we touch.

Continuing, she then mentioned the potential recognition that this consumption is unhealthy yet we find ways around it (dark mode) in order to stay in the light… although we are manipulating it.

This made me return to this piece by @flowerstructure.

As they currently exist, I often describe phones as "basically vending machines".

Think about it: Small rectangles encased in glass, displaying an array of colorful and beautiful packages, each promising bite-sized hits of pleasure/dopamine, each “cheaply” priced (and in many cases, free) — this is a vending machine.

This is a contemporary personal computer.

I personally do not believe vending machines orient people towards better living. I have personally never been satiated by food that comes out of a vending machine.

We now are suspecting that light knows when we’re looking.

Yes it has different behavior when we are looking.

It almost imbues it with consciousness.

— James Turrell, on Charlie Rose Show

There’s so much to pull out of that quote. But it made me think about the nature of technology to reflect itself back to us, and in turn that promoting further development alongside us (human progress). Very “What Technology Wants” by Kevin Kelly… but the thought of light being aware and the nature of digital products… pixels shooting between us…

There’s simply too much to unpack there.

But I want us —anyone working within technology, particularly software— all to be aware of the power that we have. Shaping light and sharing it… scaling it…

Are we creating vitamin d, or dehydrating and burning those we meant to nourish?

I don’t do edits really, so excuse typos and things that don’t make sense.

Thanks so much for giving me your attention. I hope it was worth it, if not… unsubscribing will not hurt my feelings, and will give you back time you literally cannot have back.

Much love.

Live in the light