Rising protests in recent years to address ecological, social and political issues have motivated activists to reflect their strategy of protest. In this connection light has become an attractive element to create striking images and videos to enhance press and social media communication. Different new forms have emerged. Previously using a sea of candles to show solidarity and to express unity has been replaced with bright LED flashlights from mobile phones. LED lit signs are more perceptible at night. Projection with graphics and text enable activists to underline their core messages or even to temporarily take possession of iconic landmarks. In fact, the luminous form of protest has allowed protestors to circumvent governmental restrictions like forbidding gatherings of large groups. The creative use of light to enhance protests was already visible in the Occupy Wall Street protest and has been evident in recent demonstrations regarding climate change, Black Lives Matter or the LGBT movement. Artists like Krzystof Wodiczko, Robin Bell, Jenny Holzer, Dustin Klein, The Illuminator collective and Joanie Lemercier have created projects in the recent years to address the rising social, ecological and political issues in the USA and Europe.
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Lectures – KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm / Sweden, 15.10.2020 – Élat Lighting Initiative in Saskatoon / Canada, 12.2.2021
Selected events, artists and activists
Interesting social media channels of artists and activists:
Architectural lighting provides optimum visibility for tasks but illuminations convey meanings as well. Though many studies analyze technical dimensions of lighting, research on the meaning is rare. Therefore, this article discusses semiotics as a methodology for lighting design within the design process and critically reflects the appearance of light and architecture. The semiotic discourse starts with terminology and presents models of architectural signs. The history of architectural semiotics serves as a background for the transfer to lighting and leads to an understanding of recent debates. The relevance of semiotics for lighting design is shown in three aspects: Firstly, the influence on the lighting design process; secondly, how physical characteristics of light intensity, distribution, and spectrum are interpreted as signs; and, thirdly, the evaluation of different lighting design tasks like daylight, lamp and luminaire design, interior and exterior lighting, as well as media façades. A critique of architectural and lighting semiotics reveals the methodological limitations of the linguistic concept. It can be concluded that semiotics provides a useful instrument to identify the meaning, which helps to improve the quality of lighting design. The semiotic matrix offers a differentiated view of relationships based on the aspects of sign, object, and interpretant with relation to light characteristics, illuminated buildings, and architectural lighting in general.
Images of light are a medium for designers to evoke inspiration, to evaluate concepts and to visualise ideas. Within the design process, images are transformed into material, or an abstract language of signs is converted into lighting objects. Architecture and lighting design are always preceded by graphic design processes. Various designers reveal their dialectic through individual images: Erich Mendelsohn with sketches, Ben van Berkel with data visualisations and Frank Gehry with cardboard models in combination with a 3D scanner followed by computer aided manufacturing. The question hereby arises whether their techniques and their design results can be understood as a response to image techniques of their time? How does digital image production influence architectural lighting design today?
Conference Professional Lighting Design Convention. London, 25.-27.10.2007
In a period where companies and their products have become more indistinguishable, corporate identity is not solely restricted to graphic design any longer, but aspects such as architectural lighting have started to play an increasingly important role. The dissertation therefore, detects lighting methods and techniques for corporate architecture. The research examines lighting history, design processes, as well as lighting solutions and their suitability for different corporate design concepts. The investigated projects range from retail, company headquarters and gastronomy to hotels and urban lighting master plans. They are analysed for their subtle or expressive use of modern light sources, luminaire designs and lighting concepts.
Luminous ceilings provide spacious room impressions and can provide different types of lighting. Besides this, they are, however, also metaphors of the natural sky and a mirror of an aesthetic and architectural debate. The historical observation of ceilings reveals that the image of heaven, which reached a theological culmination in the luminous Renaissance stucco techniques, turned into large-scale light emanating surfaces. Even if the luminance of contemporary LED screens has increased intensely and thereby creates a point of attraction, designers still look to establish a pictorial language for an impressive appearance.
Conference Professional Lighting Design Convention. Berlin, 29.-31.10.2009
The first decade with white LED light reveals how designers have implemented new technology in existing housing, added LED as part of a product group or created a unique design specifically for LED. The focus on task lights and spotlights vividly shows the dialogue between form and technology. The analysis includes international designers and architects like Norman Foster or Yves Behar.