Friday, May 7, 2010

Gothic Light

Gothic cathedrals are far more than impressive in my opinion. The sheer size alone is just… flabbergasting, especially when taking into consideration the time period they were built in. Gothic architecture featured elements like the flying buttresses, arches, columns, carved reliefs, statues, and of course, stained glass windows on a scale that takes the breath away. The stained glass in particular is very characteristic of the Gothic cathedrals and utilizes light strikingly.

Lighting up the interior of such a massive building is definitely a feet, but I believe they made it an art. Light coming through the stained glass of the cathedrals is colored. Walking into cathedral through the dappled colored light is surely an experience in itself. During the time period, I can only imagine the awe people must have felt as they entered a building already freakishly amazing form the outside into the sea of color on the inside. To the faithful, this colored light would capture in some small tangible way the glory and magnificence of God and the beauty and purity of heaven.

Without the magnificent windows, the spaces between the columns and arches would be terrifyingly dark and unwelcoming, not the best image for a church. Plain glass windows would have been enough to light up the space, but the Gothic cathedrals’ element of color adds warmth and a certain feeling that couldn’t be felt anywhere else at the time for the everyday person. Being able to experience such a rich amount of color, walking through it and having it shine on their skin and clothes, must have been like experiencing a little piece of… well… heaven.

Light through stained glass in a building that is a giant sculpture in its own right creates an unmatched environment that brought people into a profound state of awe. Although, I wonder if the windows and the Gothic cathedrals as a whole were also a symbol of power and not simply faith. While they glorified God in a way, they were certainly not humble undertakings, but that’s an argument for another time.

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