The Art of Science: Solar Burns

Charles Ross, Year of Solar Burns, 1992

The work of American artist Charles Ross uses natural light sources to create intriguing and stunning effects.  After working for many years with using prisms to create dynamic color and light effects in architectural spaces, Ross decided to change his focus.   Rather than dispersing sunlight through a prism he decided to focus it into a single point of raw power to create a solar burn. Each day for one year he burned the path of the sun through a large lens into a wooden plank. The burns were exhibited side-by-side  in an exhibition titled Sunlight Convergence/Solar Burn (1971-72).

In 1992 the French Ministry of Culture commissioned Ross to create The Year of Solar Burns for permanent installation in the Chateau d’Oiron, a 15th century château  in the Loire Valley. Each of the 366 planks captured one day of sunlight, a portrait of sunlight drawn by the sun itself.  When he first made a year-long series of solar burns, Ross discovered that the patterns traced a double spiral when laid end-to-end. At the château the spiral is etched in bronze and inlaid into the floor as part of the installation. A primal solar form, this spiral echoes the sun-based motifs in neolithic cave art, and was later used to study the Anasazi Sun Dagger Calendar at Chaco Canyon.

Lots more at Charles Ross’ website

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