The Luminiferous Aether

Title of ArtworkThe Luminiferous Aether
Year of Origin2011 - 1995
    Dimensions variable (approx 87" H)
    Argon gas filled tube, plastic, balloons, light and air
Collaboration/Shared Production/Researchn/a
Medium/Type of Artwork
Light Source
Light-Optical Factors

"Obscurity of expression is natural to the psyche. Prime example, our dreams; mere glimmerings of our esoteric selves. There are also rare instances in which these obscurities are conjured through an interaction with the exoteric, or the physical world of objects and beings. James Clark’s most recent exhibition was such an occasion.

A single sculpture, 16 years in the making, “The Luminiferous Aether” (1995-2011), was housed in the one-room gallery space of RHV Fine Art in Brooklyn. The piece is composed of a single, vertical, argon gas-filled tube sheathed in a clear plastic cylinder, adorned with an array of iridescent balloons, which are inflated with the artist’s breath. The argon tube itself is covered intermittently in swaths of translucent pigment of varying hues, a heretic’s alchemy of the imaginal, indulging a place of quiet, illuminated contemplation.


Aether, all pervading, filling all space and interpenetrating all matter. Said to have been formed by the infusion of the breath of the Logos into the primordial atmosphere. It is both the body of the stars and the structure of dust, an ever-flowing, plastic continuum. Air. All things breathe, images of souls in ceaseless animation, sending us their dreams. “Air is the cause of dreams, and of many other impressions of the mind,” states Agrippa von Nettesheim in his 16th-century work Natural Magic, “through the prolonging of Images, or similitudes, or species…until they come to the senses, and then to the phantasy, and soul of him who receives them.”

We breathe air and speak air, illumined, resounding, ascending—the anima corporalis or soul embodied in imagination" (25.04.2019)

Special features artworkn/a