SØREN RØNHOLT - AMBIENT LIGHT
From 29. 04. 23
Since the 2000s, Danish painter Søren Rønholt (b. 1966) has focused his efforts on camera-based works of landscapes. He never holds the camera in front of his eye and clicks, but instead holds it out and takes photographs as he moves the hand-held camera. Or he takes photographs from a moving car. The view oscillates with subtlety in a manner that metaphorically conforms to the micro-movements of the landscapes and the geology. By using ambient light as an object that shapes the expression of the landscapes, Rønholt isolates the distinctive features of the sites being photographed. There are signs of human activity, but the role of human beings in the landscape is not given. In terms of motif, the images create an exceptional focus on the phenomenon of ambient light. They also draw on landscape traditions from the art histories of photography and painting. As razor-sharp pictures, the works enhance our ability to see details and raise our awareness of the sensitivity of nature. The works become reflections on how to view Nordic landscapes today.
The solar altitude is low in the Nordic countries. This means that a significant part of the daylight in the Nordic region is reflected light, either through dispersal in the atmospheric particles from a blue sky or in the water droplets of clouds from an overcast sky. This reflected light is what we call Ambient Light. By contrast with bright Mediterranean sunshine, this light is diffuse and mild, and it casts long, pale shadows. It is even and stable, enveloping us from all sides and gently illuminating our surroundings. Because the low altitude of the sun typifies the light in the Nordic region, the luminosity of the light, measured in lux, is always lower in the North than in the South. This is particularly evident in winter, when the ambient luminosity is ten times lower than in summer and when skies are overcast 80% of the time. The vast majority of Rønholt’s series were photographed in winter.
“We have three types of light: direct sunlight, direct ambient light and reflected light. When direct ambient light illuminates our surroundings – no matter if it is blue or white – it is a flat light; that is to say, the light illuminates us from all directions, by contrast with sunlight. As a source of light, sunlight radiates from one specific point and at one specific angle. It casts the distinct shadows that are familiar to all of us. We can use sunlight to see the time of day by observing how the sun and sunny areas move around. Sunlight is dynamic and an intense source of light that produces lustre, whereas diffuse light, depicted in a great many of Søren Rønholt’s paintings, provides an even, stable light. This diffuse ambient daylight is actually our primary source of light in the Nordic region because it occurs so frequently. The weather can be overcast all over the world, but in the Nordic region it is a characteristic feature because it so prevalent,” explains Nanet Mathiasen, Architect, PhD in Nordic Light.
Geological resonance is a way of explaining how geological processes evoke feelings in us as humans. Thomas Juel Clemmensen, Professor of Landscape Architecture, explains: “I think quite a lot of people have experienced something unusual standing at the foot of an enormous mountain or at the Cliffs of Stevns and seeing the fish clay found in the geological strata dating all the way back to the extinction of the dinosaurs. These experiences are genuine – and they are expressed in many millions of years! And they put one’s own life into an extremely long perspective. They put life itself on a different scale, too, because this geology is found worldwide and at a global level. The resonance that emerges in contact with geology can also be found in the more mundane fields of geology, i.e. the geology right in front us in cities, constituted by all the materials and commodities that we move around to arrange our living spaces in buildings and landscapes. Søren Rønholt’s motif of an excavation pit exemplifies how we remove large quantities of materials only to deposit them somewhere else. In my view, having insight and creating spaces that provide insight into these processes, rather than camouflaging them, are crucial. They help us understand our contemporary landscapes, which we refer to as living in the Anthropocene Age. It is important to have this insight in order to care for these landscapes in a better and more sensible manner than we have done so far.”