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Light Research @ MMU

Pudong: Before and after 10pm

The gigantic city of Shanghai has become something of a quintessential symbol of the rising urbanization of China. From the promenade that lies adjacent to the Bund, the long row of European buildings constructed during colonial times, the skyscrapers of Pudong, on the opposite bank of the Huangpu River, provide an illuminated spectacle that has become something of a cliché in contemporary representations of China’s surging globalization and development.shanghai-before-10-copy

This vertical  city can also be viewed from within, from the viewing gallery on the 100th floor of the World Financial Tower, which dwarfs the Jin Mao Tower and the iconic Oriental Pearl TV Tower that lie in the foreground, with the river and Bund serving as the backdrop. However, due to energy saving measures, many of the lights of these lofty buildings are extinguished at 10pm, transforming the  appearance of nocturnal Pudong. The two photographs show the view from the observation gallery before and after the lights are switched off, underscoring how illumination marks the nightly rhythms of the city. They also provide an intriguing aesthetic contrast, with the thick black shadows of the Jin Mao and Pearl Towers providing shapely dark forms silhouetted against the blaze of urban light when minutes before they served as dazzling, colourful points of attention. shanghai-after-10-copy

September 26th, 2016 - 21:26pm

The soon-to-disappear lighthouse

Lighthouses have been a crucial  fixture in showing the safety of land to those at sea, often acting as a guiding light to the imperilled mariner. In times when very little illumination was perceptible after dark, it is now difficult to imagine the impact that the beam of the lighthouse would have had as it cut through the gloom. While most lighthouses are now automatically operated and still remain important in guiding ships at night, they have been supplemented by GPS and satellite technologies. In addition, they are increasingly the object of nostalgia, and serve as holiday homes, heritage sites and art galleries.  One lighth ouse on Denmark’s north west Skaggerrat coast has not got long to go. The tall Rubjerg Knude Lighthouse was first lit in 1900, was the home of three lighthouse keepers, and was once equipped with its own gasworks to fuel the illumination and foghorn. When it was first built, the lighthouse was 200 metres inland but over time, the sea has eroded the fragile cliffs and moved ever closer to the building. Simultaneously, the wind has blown the huge sand dunes that now surround and engulf the lighthouse, where formerly there were none. At times, these dunes obscured the landscape from the sea and muffled the sound of the foghorn, and in 1968, the lighthouse ceased to operate, subsequently hosting a museum devoted to explaining sand drift. Eventually, this also became susceptible to sand incursion and closed.swamped

The lighthouse now provides a compelling spectacle with its high white tower entirely surrounded by large dunes. The local authority has recently inaugurated a new staircase that allows visitors to climb to the top of the building to witness the dramatic scenery and pay homage to the lighthouse in its last few years. At present, a different form of light currently shines with the installation of a huge kaleidoscope that casts a dancing sea of light inside the tower as it reflects the sun’s rays, a ghostly reminder of the long extinguished, powerful beam that once cut across the sea. A wind powered prism catches natural light and reflects it down a mirror lined shaft around which the staircase winds. It is anticipated that this attraction will have a short lifespan, for the lighthouse is expected to succumb to tidal incursion by 2023.rujberg-kaliedoscope

 

 

 

September 22nd, 2016 - 08:55am

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September 12th, 2016 - 14:28pm

Sunlight and the Landscape: Stanton Moor, Peak District

I am currently  writing a paper that focuses upon the manifold effects of the daylight and the ways in which this shapes the ways in whihc we perceive and understand landscape. This involved taking a walk across a raised area of moorland and woodland in England’s Peak District, Stanton Moor, taking photographs at each moment that the light seemed to transform the scene I beheld. In focusing upon this changing light and its interactions with the landscape – the ways in which light is reflected, absorbed and deflected – I aim to foreground the ways in which our eyes must constantly become attuned to these shifts, a topic that is rarely considered in our habitual engagement with the world. The walk around Stanton Moor produced an array of instances where the landscape and elements within suddenly became notable through the effects of the sunlight. There were areas of strong contrasts and prominent silhouettes, parts where green plants became vibrant in the sun’s rays, areas of shadow and gloom, lucid reflections in water, expansive and luminous skies, vividly illuminated cobwebs adorned with droplets, and dappled 5.Stanton bright leaves17.stanton.jewelswoods.

March 8th, 2016 - 14:57pm

Voice Array: Lozano-Hemmer in Blackpool

Blackpool’s Grundy Gallery (http://www.grundyartgallery.com/) recently inititated an annual exhibition of light-related art that will synchronize with the two months of the year when the resort displays its traditional lluminations. The exhibition, Sensory Systems, featured fantastic work by  renowned light artists Angela Bulloch, Anthony McCall, Conrad Shawcross and Ann Veronica Jansenns. The gallery is small but the show generated  much excitement, especially the extraordinary Voice Array (2011) shown by  a fifth artist, Rafael Lozano-Hemmer. In a bare, rectangular room, visitors were invited to shout, scream, relate a sentence or make any vocal noise into a microphone placed adjacent to the entrance to the room. This sparked a subsequent repetitive recording of this utterance, which corresponded with  the flashing of a light close by at about shoulder height.

hemmerThereafter, this brilliant white light moved along a horizontal band  that encompassed the whole of the room, and as it did so, the recording merged with a growing array of previous pronouncements to progressively create an accumulating medley of sound, the extending light pulsing in response. At the end of the journey, the travelling illumination has accompanied the cumulative sound of the 288 vocal interjections that constitute the piece. Yet the addition of one more contribution means that the last recorded utterance must disappear forever. Accordingly, upon completing its voyage around the room, the light briefly ceases, and this sound is heard for the last time in isolation. So it is that one can participate as part of a shifting community of gallery visitors, with separate contributions each translated into flashes of light and compressed together in time and space. Astonishing.

December 5th, 2015 - 19:49pm

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