Tag: research

Protests at night: Light, art and design for democracy, social justice and climate movement

Rising protests in recent years to address ecological, social and political issues have motivated artists and activists to reflect their strategy of interventions. 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. Projection with graphics and text enable artists and activists to underline their core messages or even to temporarily take possession of iconic landmarks. In fact, the luminous form of protest has allowed creative minds to circumvent governmental restrictions like forbidding gatherings of large groups. The smart 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, Joanie Lemercier and Delight Lab have created projects in the recent years to address the rising social, ecological and political issues in the USA, South America and Europe.

If your protests or publication should be considered please send me an email.

– Interventions at night: Light, art and design for social change. KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm / Sweden, 19.10.2023
– Interventions at night: Light, art and design for social change. Municipal museum in Lüdenscheid / Germany, 10.02.2023
– When facades call for social change. KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm / Sweden, 22.09.2022
– Protests at night. KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm / Sweden, 22.09.2021
– Urban lighting between identity and transformation. Élat Lighting Initiative in Saskatoon / Canada, 12.2.2021
– Protests at night – From candlelight vigils to guerilla projections. KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm / Sweden, 15.10.2020

Cities Light Up in Solidarity With Ukraine: From Internationally Synchronized Illuminations to Projection Activism, Drone Shows and Global Art Projects. Media Architecture Biennale, 2023
– Krzysztof Wodiczko: monuments, projections and protest. An interview with Thomas Schielke. Sculpture Journal, 2022
When Architecture Shows Solidarity with China Combating Coronavirus. ArchDaily, 2020
Media scapes in China: The empire of figures transforms into connected media facades. Media Architecture Biennale, 2021.
The Language of Lighting: Applying Semiotics in the Evaluation of Lighting Design. Leukos, 2019.
Streetscapes at Night: Lighting between Safety, Identity and Transformation. 3rd City Street Conference, 2018.

Master thesis mentoring
Light for democracy: Lighting as a tool for Brazilian political protests. KTH Stockholm: Helena Peres Caixeta Silva, 2022

Global protests at night

Selected events, artists and activists


Interesting social media channels of artists and activists:

The Language of Lighting: Applying Semiotics in the Evaluation of Lighting Design

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.

Semiotic design layers for architectural lighting: Space, texture, light, and luminaires. Rendering layers: Axel Groß. Image © ERCO

Publication open access
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/15502724.2018.1518715
Leukos Journal. The Journal of the Illuminating Engineering Society
Volume 15, 2019 – Issue 2-3: Lighting Research Methods. Pages 227-248

Architectural lighting images – The influence of visualisation techniques on lighting design

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?

Professional Lighting Design Convention. London, 25.-27.10.2007

ERCO Lichtbericht Edition 86. www.erco.com/download

Illustration of the brightness contrast at the Macau Apple Store designed by Foster + Partners.
Image: Thomas Schielke

Corporate Lighting: Architectural lighting for brand communication

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.

Online access to complete doctoral thesis
Corporate lighting. PDF file

Selected Publications:

  • Influence of lighting design on marketing communication. Leukos. 2015 Vol 11, 3. Article
  • The language of lighting: Applying semiotics in the evaluation of lighting design. Leukos. 2019. Vol 15, 2-3. Article open access
  • Impact of lighting design on brand image for fashion retail stores. Lighting Research and Technology.   2014 July. Article
  • Validity of simulation for lighting and brand image evaluation. Lighting Research and Technology. 2015  Article
  • Light and corporate identity: Using lighting for corporate communication. Lighting Research and   Technology. 2010 Sep, 42 (3). Article
  • Leuchtende Marken. archithese. No. 3. Zürich,   Switzerland, 2008. www.nextroom.at (german)

Selected conferences

  • Enlighten Europe. Berlin, 9.-11.11.2014
  • IES Annual Conference, Huntington Beach/CA   USA, 26.-29.2013  
  • Experiencing Light. Eindhoven/NL, 12.-13.11.2012
  • Enlighten Europe Conference. London, 4.-5.2.2009 
  • Experiencing Light. Eindhoven/NL, 26.-27.10.2009

The aesthetic of luminous ceilings: From the image of heaven to dynamic light

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.

Professional Lighting Design Convention. Berlin, 29.-31.10.2009

Luminaire design towards LED light boards – Task lights and spotlights

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.