Tag Archives: transparency


24 Feb

The analogy I am using to represent Lightness is of free-falling on an amusement park ride such as the Tower of Terror at Disney’s Hollywood Studios or Doctor Doom’s Fear Fall at Universal’s Islands of Adventure.

I feel as though free-falling is comparable to the work of E-Lit that I have chosen for Lightness because they both imply or provide explicitly a sense of weightlessness and discomfort. The weightlessness in the E-Lit work, “in the white darkness” is found from the transparency of the overlay that is layered on top of the actual image. There is a white mask on top of the picture beneath, but the picture is not clearly visible because of the opacity of the white layer and the blurred effect that it creates. This white layer, although evoking a sense of haze, also evokes a sense of weightlessness because it acts as a veil and we understand aesthetically the purpose of a veil and know that it is not of great weight. Free falling also provides a sense of weightlessness because of the physics involved in such an amusement. Typically these types of rides take the rider to the top of the tower or structure at a rather fast speed, therefore pressing the rider into the seat in which they are strapped. When they reach the top, the hydraulic system is released and the vehicle is released so that the passengers are for a moment suspended in the air, weightless.

I have also mentioned that both the E-Lit work and the act of free-falling provide an experience of discomfort. There is discomfort in experiencing the E-Lit work because of the inability to clearly see what is beneath the layer of whiteness. As discussed in the Graphics section, humans’ natural inclination is to feel a sense of discomfort or anxiety when we know that something is there that we cannot see or understand. The free fall also provides discomfort or anxiety to those experiencing the sensation of weightlessness because of the adrenaline that our bodies release in response to being in an atypical situation. Not only do we experience physiological discomfort, but some people have genuine fears of heights or falling and therefore also experience a great emotional response that elicits screaming and sometimes crying to release their feelings of discomfort and anxiety.


24 Feb

The graphic element I think best represents Lightness is that of transparency. In design, transparency is used to create veils and layers of color and texture. Typically something is transparent when it has a value between 0 and 100 so that it is opaque to some degree but also reveals the layer or object beneath it.

I feel as though transparency represents Lightness best because of the sense of weight, or lack thereof, that it implies. Naturally, we understand that by the principles of physics and gravity that when one object is underneath another object it bears the weight of the latter. With transparency, the simple fact that the top layer is “see-through” implies a sense of lightness, as opposed to if it were completely opaque, no matter the texture or object. Transparency almost gives a feeling of relief to the viewer because it allows for the understanding and visibility of the multiple elements that are being observed. Because humans are curious characters, we have natural inclinations to feel anxiety from what we cannot see, or what do not know is there. The value of transparency, both literally on a scale and figuratively, is important to the understanding of what is being observed in art, just as Calvino’s quality of Lightness is pertinent to the reader’s ability to feel a sense of calm and understanding without the weight of burdensome text or meaning.

E-Lit Example

22 Feb

The E-Lit example I chose to represent Lightness is “in the white darkness: about [the fragility of] memory” by Reiner Strasser.

While the term “white darkness” is of course in itself contradictory,┬áthe name of the piece itself implies a great sense of Lightness. When thinking of darkness, one imagines being enveloped by blackness, where no or little light is found. The absence of light brings with it a sense of weight, a sense of being overwhelmed by the discomfort that is caused by the inability to see or sense what is around. Therefore, the name “white darkness” presents almost the antithesis of this weight of darkness- it implies what can be felt as a sheer veil of light. The difference between a true darkness with little or no light and a white darkness, to me, is that of perception. With true darkness, perception of other elements present is highly distorted if not impossible, whereas white darkness, while also a distortion of other elements, at least leaves the person experiencing it aware of the present elements.

As Calvino uses science to exemplify Lightness, so further can a connection between science, Lightness and this piece of E-Literature be made. Our memories function on a system of neurological connections and messages sent through passageways at fractions of seconds. The tiny impulses are another example like that of DNA that Calvino references with respect to Lightness. He says that he looks to science to nourish his visions in which all heaviness disappears. I feel as though our memories and quick neurological impulses are also a scientific instance in which heaviness disappears.



Not only can Lightness and science be found in the implicit and deeper meanings of “in the

white darkness” but so can Lightness be found in the aesthetics of the piece. The title itself lays the foundation for the

weightlessness that the piece bears, free from any capital letters, even though the letters of the words as part of the title. The page initially seen by the audience is that of a white screen with the letters of the title cut out, revealing an image beneath it- the E-Lit. Also seen are a series of small circles connected with curved lines, some solid, some dotted, that lead the audience to make the connection that these imply the brain’s function of a memory and the transmission of information along similar looking passages in our nervous systems. Finally, the revealed piece of E-Lit is a picture of linen curtains hanging in front of a window, blurring the view of what is outside, with an overlaid transparent screen that becomes more opaque, then more transparent, as if flashing slowly or throbbing. Also within the transparent layer are circles that with the throbbing motion seem to grow larger and smaller. These circles are meant to imply the spottiness of the mind of someone who is losing their memory and cannot gain a clear picture of what it is they are trying to recall.