Polages

Polages are a unique form of visual artwork, created by the Las Vegas artist Austine Wood Comarow. The word 'Polage' combines the words 'polarise' and 'collage'. Austine, as she is known professionally, discovered by chance that certain transparent materials produce colours when they are illuminated with polarised light. Her creations initially look like a clear piece of plastic or pexiglass. When the light shines though however, the polarising filters create amazing colours. And as the filter is rotated, different images appear. No wonder her works have been described as 'kinetic light paintings.'

Each work is unique. The first stage is to create a design, just as you might if you were going to create a sheet of stained glass. Working from the pattern, Austine then cuts out and positions pieces of cellophane as a collage, working towards the final image. She works at a light table which is covered with a polarising filter, and at the same time she wears a pair of polarising sunglasses, so that she can see and judge how the completed artwork will look.

The collage of cellophane pieces is sandwiched between polarising filters. To see the final artwork, light needs to shine through the image, and a further polarising filter is used. Sometimes the viewer rotates the filter manually, sometimes a small motor turns the polarising filter.

Austine has been creating Polages since 1967, and her work is found in museums as well as corporate and private collections. She says - "I try to focus on the flow of experience rather than one static instant". And certainly her images show many transformations, from sunsets to flowing water.

Because of the dynamic nature of Polages, they cannot be captured by a still image. Although video can give some idea of the overall effect, it is really necessary to see the original artwork in order to appreciate them properly.

You can see more of Austine's work at her website.

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