Polar Collage



The work to the naked eye


The work where the viewing sheet is at 0 degrees


The work where the viewing sheet is at 90 degrees


A picture of the work where half is seen through the viewing sheet, and the other is not.

Skills used:

spatial reasoning, basic physics, artistic design


While it is not necessarily an invention, and while I am not necessarily an artist, I figured I would try my hand at art, using my knowledge of science.

This is a simple abstract collage created for my HUM 2204 creative process class. However, I wanted it to stand out, so instead of using cutouts or something boring like that, I decided to cut up an old broken computer monitor I had lying around my dorm room. I pulled the polarizing film off the front and back of the screen. I then cut these shards up to fit my needs, then taped them down to the canvas board with packaging tape.

Since I knew that polarizing film placed parallel to itself blocked out all light, I used an angle Theta from 90 degrees (clear grey) to 0 degrees (pitch black) to shade the work. When the viewer looks through a viewing sheet, the clear sheet located on the back of most TFT LCD screens, and rotated, Theta changes, and what was once clear becomes black, and vice versa.

However, there was an effect I did not expect. The clear plastic packaging tape I used to hold the work down acted as a primitive prism, and when placed over a polarized film sheet in dark mode (Theta ≥ 45) showed up as orange, and when placed over one in light mode (Theta < 45) showed up as blue. This effect was completely accidental, but I like how it turned out

There is quite a use in this art form for the rotation of the viewing screen. If Theta for a few consecutive components is about 15* off each other, they will darken in succession, causing motion in the work, as well as a change of color. There is so much that can be done with this, and I would love to do more of these to explore the processes that can be used.

 What I like about it:

    • It is colored, but not until you look through polarized film. This is quite stunning for the first time viewer.
    • It uses some crazy science that people rarely run across outside of screens.
    • It’s something different, which is always important.
    • It’s not just another invention, which I could use a break from.

What I don’t like about it:

    • The coolest part, the color, was run across by accident. I wish I did that on purpose.
    • When making this, I cut myself rather bad while removing the film. I have never had art attack me before, but after bleeding profusely, I decided I need to watch out for it more.
    • The materials are not cheap. The only place to easily get this is from the back of TFT LCD screens.
    • The background is too plain.


I like it, and my professor was grounded with how cool an idea it was. All around, I like it, but, unlike my inventions, it is not really useful at all. Oh well. It was fun to make.

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