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Kamarck, Edward (ed.) / Arts in society: tenth anniversary issue

Schwartz, Barry N.
[The kinetic scope of Cassen and Stern],   pp. [95]-102 PDF (10.7 MB)

Page [96]

It has been a long time since Thomas
Wilfred recognized light as an art medium.
One would like to be able to say that a
great deal has happened since then,
but that's not the case. Light is still
explored as an art form, rarely utilized more
significantly than as innovation. While the
sophistication of new techniques has made
possible more satisfying uses of the
medium, in general we owe thanks
for this more to Kodak than to individual
Two exceptions are Jackie Cassen and
Rudi Stern, who have extended the use of
light into new areas, demonstrating its
validity as an art medium. Attributing the
success of these two to their artistic
maturation is to state a half-truth. Success
has come only with the maturation of their
audience. If their early work was received
by the young, the turned on, and the hip,
it was only because the more sophisticated
art audiences were unprepared to accept
something which had thus far eluded the
charge of the critic brigade. It's a long
way from a program on DMT in the
East Village to the main gallery of the
Architectural League; but it is a route
travelled by artists because of audiences.
Jackie Cassen and Rudi Stern are the
creators of the techniques that are becoming
increasingly familiar: slide projections,
moving sculpture used for light effects,
total-environment art, and an ambiguous
hesitancy between art and design. The
Electric Circus may now be the place to go,
but it is so only because Cassen and
Stern created, with the Trips Festival at
the same location, and with the visuals for
the Cheetah, the techniques which
transformed these ballrooms into
discotheques. Soaps, bathtubs, and
toothpaste are now sold by light projection
techniques innovated by Cassen and Stern
in their commercial publicity work
for Best & Co., and their industrial
exhibits for Dutch Masters and Simplicity
Patterns, among others, and their promotion
of Antonioni's "Blow Up." They have
moved light from California to Boston, from
Tim Leary's hippie haven to the White
House, and they have travelled only
where they have been welcomed.
Cassen and Stern, with their new
perceptions, are no strangers to tradition.
Their training is traditional, their degrees

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