Ever since I was a child, I have been enthralled by the stained glass rose windows in cathedrals. For many years I have dreamed of creating a virtual rose window that is more complex than what the stained glass artisans could achieve, so a few years back, I began studying their design. One thing that my favorite rose windows do is work at the limits of our perception of color. At the edge of blue-violet/ultraviolet, our perception drops off, but right at that threshold there’s something interesting going on energetically, a kind of electric pulsing that is hard to describe but I think we all feel it.
To achieve that blue-violet effect, the designers of rose windows used lots of pure blue cobalt glass, with occasional small spots of red, and even less magenta. Yellow and green are also used sparingly within the blue, to create patches of blue-green that make the blue-violet areas feel even more rich. From a distance, these colors all combine to give the experience of that electric blue-violet space. The color space of computer monitors does not contain edge-of-perception violet/ultraviolet, but a fairly convincing illusion can be created using this mix of colors.
I think rose windows are one of the most overlooked art forms, incredibly beautiful and sophisticated, and unfortunately associated exclusively with religion in a way that doesn’t do them justice. One of my favorites anywhere is in St Patrick’s Cathedral in NY. The blue-violet color of that light feels to me like a spiritual battery charger.
This piece is available for projection as a 4k high-resolution zooming video (much finer detail and richer color than the compressed web version you see here). I am also hoping eventually to make a large-scale backlit light box of this piece, that would have the look and feel of a rose window.
~cj, Seattle, 2017