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Light Research @ MMU

Dreams and Imagination: Light in the Modern City , Monash Gallery of Art

Melissa Miles from Monash University, Melbourne has curated an exhibition, running at  Monash Gallery of Art until 1 March 2015:

Dreams and Imagination: Light in the Modern City focuses on the special role of light in stimulating imagination in Australian photography, and for envisioning modern cities as places of dreams and wonder. As a technology of light and of modernity, photography proved an ideal medium for imaging Australian cities. Photographers including Harold Cazneaux, Max Dupain, David Moore, Olive Cotton and Mark Strizic, used their cameras to revel in the magic of sunlight and artificial illumination in cities, and drew upon different metaphors of light to represent their ambitions for Australian modernity or express disenchantment with its failings.
















Mark Strizic, Flinders Lane, 1967, 1967 gelatin silver print; 37.0 x 37.0 cm,  Monash Gallery of Art, City of Monash Collection (donated by the Bowness Family through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program 2008, MGA 2008.110; courtesy of the Estate of Mark Strizic)

The early to mid twentieth century was a period of gradual change in Australian cities and photography alike. Australians did not experience modernisation as a dramatic revolution or a sudden wave of change, as it was experienced in parts of Europe. Mass-production manufacturing industries were not a significant part of the Australian economy until after the Second World War, and skyscrapers did not reshape the city skyline until the early 1960s. Such European and American conceptions of modernity as a dramatic sense of the new displacing the old, were experienced in Australia as a kind of expectation or immanence rather than a sudden shift.













Max Dupain, Mosman Bay at dusk, 1937, gelatin silver print, 49.6 x 32.6 cm, Monash Gallery of Art, City of Monash Collection (donated by James Mollison AO through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program 2008, MGA 2008.006)

This sense of immanence and gradual change is reflected in the diversity of photographic styles used to represent cities, from the hazy light and fuzzy effects associated with Pictorialist photography to the crisp sharp lines of modernism. During the 1930s and 40s, members of an older generation of Australian photographers, including the Pictorialists Cazneaux and George Morris, were responding to their urban experiences alongside younger generations linked to modernist and new documentary practices, such as Dupain and Cotton. The exhibition reveals how photographers utilized light, shadow and artificial illumination to enrich and enliven their imagery in ways that often transcended neat stylistic categories.

Melissa has a related book coming out next year, The Language of Light and Dark: Light and Place in Australian Photography:–the-products-9780773545502.php

December 11th, 2014 - 13:24pm

Fabulous, Massive Christmas lights display in Australia

A family in Canberra have achieved a record for the number of Christmas lights displayed on their house, a staggering 502,165. This heroic achievement has produced a fabulous festive display, a brilliant array of colour, animation and jollity. Some may criticise, accusing the family of bad taste or excess, but here at Light Research, we say ‘Nonsense!’, and celebrate this exhibition of festive cheer. What’s not to love?

Christmas lights in Australia, 2013

November 26th, 2013 - 17:03pm

The Lights of Lobethal

The Lights of Lobethalis a Christmas festival taking place in December for over 60 years in the idylic South Australian township of Lobethal, near Adelaide. Around 700 private homes and businesses are festooned with traditional Christmas lighting and themes, an event which attracts an estimated 250,000 visitors.Visitors are encouraged to follow light trails around the town or to take special bus tours.slideshows_about05

The roots of the festival can be traced to 19th century German heritage and reflects traditional Christian values associated with Christmas. The Lights of Lobethal, therefore, are seen as the town’s gift to the community and the world. Since 1994, however, the lights have been subject to formal organisation and corporate sponsorship, establishing a problematical distance from the community led events of previous days.


Winchester, H.P.M.a, Rofe, M.W.b. (2005) Christmas in the ‘Valley of Praise’: Intersections of the rural idyll, heritage and community in Lobethal, South Australia. Journal of Rural Studies, 21(3), 265-279.

May 1st, 2013 - 12:58pm