Research Output

Figure Study in Light [LED tube installation]

  To make this artwork, the artist will be measured by a tailor as if for a suit of clothes. These dimensions will then be translated into an installation of LED tubes suspended in a darkened room, forming the same shape in light that the tailor’s measuring tape made around the artist’s body. The half-suggestion of a human in these light forms recalls the stick and circle figures of a child’s sketch, or cultural icons the Michelin Man and the Saint – forms that conflict with the musculature of the “hegemonic male ideal” that research suggests shapes many men’s body anxieties.

Writers have explored “the embodied experience of dress” and its role in the orientation of the individual in society, including through gender; historically, the lounge suit became fashionable by association with the masculine pursuit of sports. Tailoring hides the realities of the figure to make the body fit contemporary notions of male identity, shape and proportion, whereas the measuring process clients go through, is, by contrast, unflattering, reducing them to cold and unforgiving geometric data – mathematical vital statistics that
cannot be disguised.

Echoing this, the light elements in the work are exploded like a scientific diagram: strewn around the space, rather than being arranged to form a human shape; the figure cannot be
recognized as whole from any single perspective. Here, the viewer must move around the work and rely on memory to assemble a full picture of this symbolic outline body. The image we have of it, like that we have of our own bodies, is an illusion that bears only a
subjective and superficial relationship to reality.

  • Type:


  • Date:

    20 June 2019

  • Publication Status:


  • Library of Congress:

    NB Sculpture

  • Dewey Decimal Classification:

    730 Sculpture, ceramics & metalwork

  • Funders:

    Edinburgh Napier Funded


Holmes, P. (2020). Figure Study in Light [LED tube installation]. [Light sculpture]. UK



body image, tailoring, fashion, masculinity, light, sculpture

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