Urban Time and Light Field

by Dale Eldred, 1985

Artist Dale Eldred builds sculptures which reveal natural phenomena. The important element of Urban Time and Light Field (the sculpture which appears on all the light poles in this parking lot) is the action which takes place on the angled surfaces when they are struck by sunlight (during the day) or by moonlight or auto headlights (at night). This action is called diffraction -- it is the literal shattering of light on the grooved surfaces of the panels. When light shatters it breaks into smaller wave lengths which we see as real radiant color -- red, yellow, orange, green, blue, violet. From any one point of view, the colors change continually throughout the day with the earth's rotation (and the changing relative position of the sun).

Dale Eldred thinks his sculptures are similar to radar screens -- they intercept and manipulate light waves. "I want the sculpture to remind us all," he says "that our lives are inextricably linked to light, and that our universe is in constant motion."

Dale Eldred is chairman of the Kansas City Art Institute's Sculpture Department and a fellow at the M.I.T. Center for Advanced Visual Studies. His current commissions include outdoor sculpture for the Broward County Main Library in Fort Lauderdale, an indoor-outdoor piece for the Civic Center Assembly Building and Parking Facility in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and a sculpture piece for the State Revenue Building in Salem, Oregon. His works have encompassed entire cities or have become major elements in and around large buildings. In a gallery installation, the entire space available becomes the "canvas" of his expression. His work has been documented in such publications as Life, Stern, Omni, the AIA Journal, and Theatre Crafts.