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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

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

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

Urban Lighting, Light Pollution and Society

urban lighting, light pollution and societyA recently published book, Urban Lighting, Light Pollution and Society, has been edited by Josiane Meier, Ute Hasenöhrl, Katharina Krause and Merle Pottharst. All four were members of the interdisciplinary Loss of the Night research collaboration, and are based at the Department of Urban and Regional Planning at the Technical University of Berlin and at the Leibniz-Institute for Regional Development and Structural Planning in Erkner. This fabulous volume focuses upon urban lighting and light pollution from a social sciences and humanities perspective. It highlights current debates, among them ways in which light pollution might be defined and may be alleviated by emergent technologies and policies. Highly recommended.

January 16th, 2015 - 16:37pm

Picturing the dynamics of urban lightscapes

Posted by Josiane Meier

Urban lighting generally seems to be a rather static affair: When night falls, the lights are switched on – and when dawn rises, they go off. However, given that there is not only one switch for a city’s lights, but rather a whole array of larger and smaller switches and dials, it’s worth asking whether this simple and synchronised “on-off-on-off” is really what’s happening. Are there differences in rhythm and schedule between public and private lighting, between street lights, architectural illuminations and neon signs, between the lights in different parts of a city? And, if so: What determines their dynamics?

In order to gain insights into this largely uncharted territory, we are assembling and analysing a growing collection of time lapse videos. Each video portrays one night in one of Berlin’s urban centres – places that are hotspots of day- and night-time activity and that are typically expected & accepted to be especially bright. Composed of over 1.000 individual images each, and furnished with time stamps, the videos make it possible to observe what happens with individual light sources as the night progresses. The camera’s positioning and settings are kept identical, thereby allowing for the comparison of levels of brightness within and between locations.time lapse Breitscheidplatz

time lapse Alexanderplatz

Three of the locations have been portrayed in early summer nights – Alexanderplatz, Potsdamer Platz and Hackescher Markt – to allow for comparability, while one – Breitscheidplatz – is shown in the winter holiday season, providing a glimpse at the special case of festive lighting.

One thing quickly becomes very clear when viewing the videos: Urban lightscapes are not static at all – they change significantly throughout the night. It is interesting to note that there are places with a considerably more or less pronounced dynamic. The lights at Hackescher Markt, in particular, don’t change much at all in comparison to those of Alexanderplatz or Potsdamer Platz. Remarkably, the level of brightness at Hackescher Markt also appears to be significantly lower than at the other two locations – both in our videos and in a bird’s eye view of Berlin at night – despite various indicators pointing toward it being the place in this comparison that sees the most activity during the night.

time lapse Hackescher-Mkt  time lapse Potsdamer-Platz

Differences between various types of light sources are also becoming apparent. For example, public street lights and the illumination of public transport stations stay on throughout the night in all cases. Architectural illumination and lit advertisements, on the other hand, often go out in the small hours – some remain off, while others relight in the early morning. There are, however, significant exceptions: The dome of the IMAX cinema at Potsdamer Platz or the steeple of the Memorial Church at Breitscheidplatz remain brightly lit all night long. The assortment of seasonal lights visible in the Breitscheidplatz time lapse follows a variety of rhythms: While the Christmas market’s lights go off at around 10:15 pm, the adornments along the street only go out at 12:15 am, and the construction crane’s decoration remains lit all night.

Overall, it has become very evident that the how, when and why of our illuminated nights is not at all clear-cut: Far from being static or homogenous, they are an amalgamation of many different actors’ actions and logics, and their dynamics are worth investigating as much as the motives behind them.

December 18th, 2014 - 13:51pm

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