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Light Research @ MMU

FROM LIGHT TO DARK: DAYLIGHT ILLUMINATION AND GLOOM

FINALLY…. My book has now been published by Minnesota Press!! The contents provide in-depth analysis of many of the themes discussed on this blog within three distinct sections: daylight, illumination and darkness. More specifically, here is the chapter outline:

Part I. Light
1. Seeing with Landscape, Seeing with Light
2. Under the Dynamic Sky: Living and Creating with Light
Part II. Illumination
3. Electric Desire: Lighting the Vernacular and Illuminating Nostalgia
4. Caught in the Light: Power, Inequality, and Illumination
5. Festivals of Illumination: Painting and Playing with Light
6. Staging Atmosphere: Public Extravaganzas and Homely Designs
Part III. Dark
7. Nocturnes: Changing Meanings of Darkness
8. The Re-enchantment of Darkness: The Pleasures of Noir
Conclusion: The Novelty of Light and the Value of Darkness

The book can be accessed at http://www.combinedacademic.co.uk/from-light-to-dark

It’s reasonably priced!!

March 27th, 2017 - 03:40am

Progress Illuminated in Blackpool

In current times, Blackpool is a seaside resort more typically associated with the past, perhaps through a nostalgic lens. However, two outstanding place-specific art works installed as part of the town’s Lightpool Festival (http://www.blackpool-illuminations.net/LightPoolWalk.htm) suggest how the town was once particularly future-oriented. In making works especially designed for the occasion, Mark Titchner reminds onlookers of how Blackpool was once a hotspot of modernism and forward thinking. plenty-and-progress

His Plenty and Progress and What Use is Life Without Progress recall that the motto of the town is PROGRESS. This was never an empty boast, and was underpinned by a range of historical developments: the construction of the remarkable Tower, the early use of electric light, the early adoption of a tram system, and the mechanical marvels and rides that still enthral visitors to the Pleasure Beach. Plenty and Progress is projected onto the façade of the Town Hall and these words are surrounded by a shifting myriad of animated light designs, foregrounding how the resort’s illuminations are also part of this modern thrust, and refuting contemporary prejudices that modernism was invariably austere and functional.  The inference is that Progress is productive of plenty, not just of food, commodities and work, but also plenty of pleasures too. The colourful embellishments also recall the beautiful neon illuminations that adorned the seafront in the 1920s and 30s, with their clear lines and curves, notably conjuring up the designs of Claudegan, whose designs on paper can presently be viewed in the Grundy Art Gallery. progress

Facing the seafront, the larger work, What Use is Life Without Progress, offers a bleaker, more insistent message, in which progress is conversely associated with compulsion and instrumentality. The very form of the display evokes an authoritarian form of propaganda issued by the state, urging citizens to strive for improvement. Two very satisfying and provocative works.

 

October 31st, 2016 - 11:55am

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

Skedanoz, Carnac, 2015

Carnac 3Wandering the streets of Carnac on the south coast of Brittany for two days to find out the time and exact place of the ‘Skedanoz’ demonstrated that this event had received limited local publicity. All we knew was that July 9th 2015 was the opening night of a month of illuminations at the Neolithic standing stones of Carnac. This was to be one of six scheduled events across France joining with the International Year of Light and Light-Based Technologies. It made sense to assume that it would begin around sunset – but where? Around 1,100 stones form the Ménec alignment which is just one of a number of mégalithic sites in this area totalling approximately 3,000 stones.

Carnac 1

Naturally there are a multitude of myths and a range of theories that contribute to explanations of why they are there and how they came to be. We returned at sundown to find a modest crowd of local Carnacois and a few other tourists gathered in the warm evening air at the top of the site alongside some of the tallest stones at Ménec (up to 4 metres in height). Now backlit by the setting sun, the lanterns were accompanied by a projection and speaker system obtrusively visible at the edge of the field where we spectators gathered to witness an orchestrated 20 minute show where a family-friendly narrative supplemented the movement of the lights as the ‘show’ began. A history of Carnac, interspersed with fact and myth about the mégalithic stones, was being dramatically retold through the voice of French comedian Patrick Joliot.

Carnac 2

Choreographed, computer generated animations danced and pulsed across the stones projecting multiple colours, criss-crossed lined patterns, and occasionally plunging the site into darkness bar one solitary-lit stone. The pace at which the lights changed was varied and the addition of the narration created a sense of mystery and anticipation. During the day we had seen the whole site from this point at the top of the hill but now, as the sun set and the sky changed colour from cerulean blue, to pink, orange, and to black, the colours projected onto selected stones created a completely new way of experiencing the alignment and entering the night-time.

Thanks to Louise Kenyon

September 15th, 2015 - 15:45pm

Tivoli Gardens, Copenhagen: fantastic lights lasers and fireworks

We are very fond of vernacular and festive lighting on this site. Bright and colourful fairground illumination has long been a source of delight and desire, contributing to the excitable atmosphere and the themes of popular culture that often feature in the designs of fairground art. The use of illumination at contemporary spaces of carnival and festivity becomes updated but also often follows well-worn popular themes and older forms of lighting design, for such spaces are also powerful sites of nostalgia for those who have been visiting them over the course of a lifetime. tivioli Nimh 5

The second oldest amusement park and pleasure gardens in the world, Copenhagen’s Tivoli Gardens, founded in 1843, continues to draw millions of visitors each year, tourists and locals alike. Situated right in the heart of the city, it includes a heady mix of the latest cutting edge thrill rides, top class and less exclusive restaurants, a five star hotel, gardens and lakes, themed architecture, fairground stalls, several stages and concert venues and many other attractions. tivoli pagoda

This complex and fascinating realm also draws on techniques of fantastic and festive lighting at night to produce an enchanting space. Each Saturday during the summer season, a beautiful firework display, superbly synchronized with music, issues forth from the roof of the concert hall as part of a tradition initiated in the park’s first season. In addition, the whole of the gardens is garbed in customized, colourful illumination, with over 120,000 bulbs arrayed across buildings, amusements, fountains, trees, avenues and lakes producing a rich nocturnal scene. Tivoli laser 1

In addition, a cutting edge laser show, deploying dry ice and cascading fountains, plays across the lake every night, following series of moods and intensities, and transforming the usually placid watery landscape.Tivoli laser 3

April 14th, 2015 - 10:44am

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