‘Koan’ – A lightless light by Edrick Thung

Edrick Thung, from Singapore, has taken a fairly simple concept and executed in such a manner that makes you look twice.

Koan Light

A ‘Koan’ is a paradoxical riddle used in Zen to provoke enlightenment, collected in texts such as the classic Mumonkan, or “The Gateless Gate”. The ‘Koan’ lamp tries to exploit the poetic possibilities granted by the miniaturization of lighting technology, but to steer clear of obvious technical feats like making the ‘thinnest lamp in the world’.

Koan Light

Thin black lines sketch in space the abstraction of an archetypal lamp. A palpable volume of light confronts our senses, but where we expect to find an incandescent bulb, there is only emptiness. It is as if the bulb and physical lamp had dematerialized, leaving behind the ghostly representation of a lamp… and pure light.

Koan Light

Like a magic trick, the design is more of a misdirection than a sculptural exercise, a means for generating a feeling of the uncanny by confounding our expectations of the physical world. The focus is no longer onthe lighting fixture, heightening our awareness of ‘light’ as a tangible substance. A lightless light.

Koan Light

In lighting design, it often feels like skirting the issue to focus on the fixture rather than ‘light’ itself, e.g. as an excuse for yet another sculptural exercise, or an exploration of weird, unconventional materials. Yet Light itself is already an unusual substance full of metaphysical significance. I set myself a riddle to solve. Can there be simply ‘light’, with no source?

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