Lighting & Color

My fascination with lighting and color stems from the twinkling refractions of Caribbean oceans; the magical moments when I visited Venezuela as a child. The mesmerizing diffraction of sunlight through the clear waves created resonant wonder, and curiosity of the fleeting rainbows that crossed the sea floor. A visit to Florida this recent long weekend brought serendipitous surprises: a light painting by Stephen Knapp! The rays of colorful light, shooting in each and every direction were marvelous, splashing with bright joy.

the semiotics of color


“I believe that what Goethe was really seeking was not a physiological but a psychological theory of colours.” — Ludwig WittgensteinCulture and Value, MS 112 255:26.11.1931


Current flag of Venezuela

Goethe’s Theory of Colors was disputed by many as having any scientific relevance beyond his perception of color, its psychology and the phenomena of refraction. In my research on the crisis in Venezuela, I came across Goethe’s impact on “Latin American Flags.” Goethe consulted Francisco de Miranda, the revolutionary leader, and explained the following:

"Why yellow is the most warm, noble and closest to the bright light; why Blue is that mix of excitement and serenity, so far that it evokes the shadows; and why Red is the exaltation of Yellow and Blue, the synthesis, the vanishing of the bright light into the shadow […] It is not that the world is made of yellows, blues and reds; it is that in this manner, as if in an infinite combination of these three colors, we human beings see it.”

Who knew such a connections existed between this German writer and the first leader of Venezuela? Amarillo, azul y rojo represent the country as a whole: it’s richness, splendor, and continuous state of crisis. The colors and symbolism has evolved to signify the following:

Yellow: Represents the riches of the country, the wealth of Venezuelan soil, gold, sovereignty, harmony, justice and agriculture, as well as the Sun, the source of Light.

Blue: represents the Sea of the Caribbean that surrounds the country, as well as the Venezuelan beaches.

Red: represents the spilled blood in the battle of independence from Spain.


the passage of timE


Reflecting on primary colors and my iridescent memories of the Caribbean, I’ve turned turned to the patterns of circadian lighting for the lighting design of my thesis installation. The rise of the sun over the horizon brings up warm, gem-like hues of reddish amber. This light then brightens into a golden-yellow, and fades into a light blue. It eventually falls back down the same cycle, but dips beyond the ocean into darkness, and midnight. Examples below:




Standing in contrast to the primary colors, is the queerest of them all: the color purple. Considering the mystical quality of morado, I’ve curated some ethereal palettes (below) that convey a more whimsical approach to the lighting design. I’ve also begun to consider what these pallets might look like as gradients or ramps. Demo example here.














more tests soon!

Zoe Sandovalcolor, lighting, design