Light connects interior architecture, urban studies, and cognitive neuroscience – Yunni Cho, BRDD 21′
I am currently majoring in the field of urban studies, cognitive neuroscience, and interior architecture through a dual degree program at Brown University and Rhode Island School of Design. My goal is to find the potential of design in creating social justice at an urban scale with an understanding of the science behind our spatial perception. Throughout the first month of the Maharam fellowship, I realized that the study of lighting is a perfect way to demonstrate the interdisciplinary nature of my education.
Lighting contributes a fundamental base for architecture and space making. As Steven Holl argues in his interview, lighting remains “integral to the concept of the architecture, unique to the site and place.” Although each of his projects is different in how the building utilizes the presence of light, he believes that “the infinite possibilities of light have been evident from the beginning of architecture and will continue into the future … as light is contingent, its shadows intermittent.” In The Light on Things, Peter Zumthor further extends Holl’s notion of light orchestrating the interior experience by analyzing materials with their capacity to pick up the quantities of light and reflect them in the darkness. For Zumthor, architecture is “to plan the building as a pure mass of shadow then, afterwards, to put in light as if you were hollowing out the darkness, as if the light were a new mass seeping in.” It is this very conception of giving light a sense of mass that allows materials to occupy its surfaces through their way of reflecting the light. In Silence and Light, Louis Kahn defines light as “the giver of all presences … giving to silence the ability to act.” He follows Zumthor’s approach by situating structure as the maker of light and believing an expression of form as the realization of nature.
In architecture, one can see how architects have harnessed the varying morals and politics of their respective time periods leading to a wide array of artistic interpretation. All of these different time periods and ideologies can be united under the presence of light. As Holl, Zumthor, and Kahn claimed, the power of architecture comes through in its ways of dealing with the presence of light, by designing the passage of how light enters and leaves the structure and the ways in which light leaves a visual trace of its presence in one’s spatial perception.
Light, the radiant energy that is capable of exciting the retina and producing a visual sensation, gives rise to visual principles, such as illuminance, luminance, color, temperature, height, density, direction, and distribution (IESNA, 2011). Lighting is fundamental in creating depth perception and a sense of intimacy by defining visual composition and ambience of a space. Without light, we cannot perceive contrast, brightness, material appearance, or three-dimensional surfaces through our vision. There is no space that we can visually perceive and appreciate in an absence of light.
I wanted to share this intimate connection with light in architecture as well as in perception and cognition through my fellowship projects. After spending two weeks on research to find relevant sources, I came across literature on ‘preattentive visual properties.’ Preattentive visual properties refer to four information – (1) form, (2) color, (3) position in space, and (4) movement – that get processed in our sensory memory without our conscious thought. These features are part of our low level visual system, which are necessary for higher level visual abilities, such as figure to ground discrimination as well as depth perception from perspective or relative movement. Designers use these properties to help users easily understand and use information they are presented with.
For my first project, Transient Stillness, I proposed to use these four properties to analyze form, color, spatial position, and movement of light using four different techniques – (1) white ink, (2) color pencil, (3) cut-outs, and (4) time-lapse images – to breakdown our perception and understanding of natural light. The initial goal for this project is to finish 25 images in these four different techniques (100 drawings in total) to make a grid formation for an easier comparison. This week, I finished five additional color drawings and five cut-outs to show how I am envisioning the inclusion of these new techniques. Additionally, I took a couple more time-lapse videos when the weather was windy and cloudy to record different daylight conditions.
I presented my new ideas for the second project, Choreography of Light, at the start of this week to my team. The new proposal was about including two additional pages at the end of each chapter to cite the sources and summarize my research process. The presentation was successful and the team supported this new direction to the project. After the approval, I completed the citation pages for the first and third chapters as well to finalize the three chapters I started.
During the team meeting, I got a chance to meet two interns at the Hamburg office, Selina and Vanessa, who would also be joining our virtual collaboration. We now have fine artists, interior designers, architects, lighting professionals, as well as engineering experts in our team. And all of us are very excited to see how this journey would end as we have a great diversity in each of our backgrounds and skill sets.
This week, we received the first newsletter from the Tanteidan office for the Lighting Detectives since all of the projects became online due to the effects of COVID-19. The letter acknowledged the difficulties the organization as a whole face in not having in-person meetings and public workshops. But Lighting Detectives also promised to focus on the World Lighting Journey magazine and virtual projects that can still be very effective in achieving their goals. We were very glad to receive this letter as it ensured that other chapters are also taking a similar direction as how we are doing our projects through a virtual collaboration.
During these two weeks collaborating with The Hunger Project- Mexico (THP) I have had many learnings and reflections although I also have felt that time has passed incredibly fast. I would like to start by explaining how, due to the health contingency, the initial proposal to carry out this fellowship was modified, and then tell about my experience of these first weeks.
THP works to eradicate the systemic causes that generate most of the conditions of poverty in rural and indigenous communities as well as to generate development and better living conditions while at the same time trying to respect their own idiosyncrasy and the natural ecosystem that surrounds them. Therefore, the initial idea of my participation was to visit the communities and develop visual material to help the dissemination of eco-technologies in which some residents have already been trained, as well as the promotion of other sustainable practices that can provide these towns and communities with more dignified living conditions and help them build resilience to the threats caused by climate change.
Since the current health contingency does not allow to carry out face-to-face activities and contact with the communities is extremely complex because there isn’t a stable internet connection or reliable telephone networks, the proposal moved towards creating educational material about sustainable development for children with the objective of it being used, in the near future, more widely within various rural schools. Informing children about sustainable development, and how it relates to their rights, is vital to create in them a cultural citizenship that empowers and allows them to participate in the construction of their communities. Perhaps to the reader, this last line might sound too radical, but the more I investigate, the more aware I become that these children grow up immersed in an environment that constantly tells them to resign to living in deplorable conditions while also stealing any aspiration to escape the systemic violence that places them in extreme poverty and environmental inequity.
During the first days, I learned about THP’s working methodology and understood some of the guidelines my proposals should follow so that they correspond to the values and vision promoted by the organization. THP starts from seeing people in poverty as the greatest experts in knowing what changes are necessary to eradicate the causes that generate the situation they are living in. They also seek to develop their potential to be agents of their own transformation instead of requiring them to wait for external assistance.
Later, I started researching and understanding, on the one hand, what materials could be available to explain sustainable development to children and, on the other, rurality, and in more detail rural and indigenous education. In the beginning, I felt a little sad about not being able to visit rural communities, but I also was worried about developing educational material for children who live in a different reality from mine and other children with whom I have previously worked with in highly urbanized populations. Dear reader, please notice that I was born and raised in Mexico City, one of the most populous cities on the planet. Thus, it was necessary to look for alternative ways of doing my ‘field’ documentation.
First, I read carefully about the characteristics of the rural education in Mexico and Latin America, and I found that, unfortunately, although there is a lot of talk about the need to improve rural education there is very little educational material designed specifically for this type of schooling system. Rurality in this context does not only refer to the fact that people live in places far away from large cities, or that most of the economic activities are related to agriculture and livestock but unfortunately, most of these communities lack basic infrastructure, sometimes electricity, sanitation, roads and even tap water. So talking about sustainable development to children living in these conditions, of course, cannot follow the discourse that has spread widely to the most privileged classes, either academically or economically. On the other hand, rural education in Mexico is usually multilevel, that is, a single teacher teaches classes for two or more levels. It also occurs that a single teacher cares for a group of up to 40 children from 5 to 12 years in a large classroom. In addition, many of these communities are indigenous and Spanish is not the native language of children, but it is the language in which the official educational texts and working tools provided to teachers is written in.
Diana, Manager of Alliances and Advocacy in Public Policies at THP was very kind to share with me some previous experiences with the communities. She also provided me with some reports of activities, led by THP or other partner organizations, related to the environmental education that has been carried out within the member communities. Some examples of the topics that have been worked within these communities are caring for water; reducing energy expenditure; and separating solid waste among others. Thanks to this information, I understood more clearly what kind of actions the material I will develop should invite the community to do. I also find it very interesting to see how the small size of these member communities where everyone knows each other, could possibly allow the proposal of community actions that have a big impact in the long term.
Besides, I also searched online the existing educational material regarding sustainable development specifically designed for children, having special attention in finding content developed for the Global South. It was alarming to see that the dissemination material is highly oriented to the privileged classes. There is practically no material on the actions that underprivileged children can take or demand to achieve sustainable development worldwide. The UN 2030 agenda points out the goals on which it is necessary to work, and there is a lot of academic information on how all social groups are capable and have the right to collaborate on achieving them. However, I noticed that such information is not being widely disseminated nor it is adapted to different contexts. For example, one action that UNICEF suggests that children and young people can carry out to achieve the proposed Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is to “place carpets and lower the thermostat temperature to save electrical energy”. However, saying that to a child from a rural community in Mexico would be totally out of context. Of course, those recommendations are valuable to some populations but we need to be more inclusive and generate diverse content for different audiences. Therefore, after going through some discomfort due to this finding, I concluded that the material I will try to develop, thanks to the Maharam Fellowship, may seem like a drop in the ocean, but it certainly can become a very valuable contribution.
Working on this project excites me, but at the same time, makes me feel a great responsibility. So, this first part of my internship has been dedicated to performing careful research, which now I believe is very important for achieving successful results, first, in terms of the reception it will have, but especially in terms of the impact it will have on the children and teachers who at some point will have this material in their hands. For this reason, I also have decided to approach former friends and colleagues who have worked in rural communities in Yucatán and others who have worked on environmental issues with children to get feedback. They all recommended developing a deliverable in a simple language and that I should not worry about including all the necessary topics, but instead that I should explain carefully the topics I consider to be the most essential.
Lastly, this educational material should serve both children and teachers. Therefore, it’s relevant to understand how the teacher can introduce it to the children and what is the easiest way for him/her to achieve his/her goals while also sharing all the valuable information contained in the material to the pupils. However, I also feel that I have some valuable experience that might allow me to achieve this goal. A few years ago I worked as an instructor in a school garden within the Montessori methodology and I remembered that, during the process of learning to teach, I must observe other teachers working with children. So, imagining a similar exercise, I watched the documentary “The Sower” by Melissa Elizondo, which is a story that narrates the daily life of a rural teacher in Chiapas (one of the states where the material I’m developing will arrive). It is admirable to note all the effort and dedication ‘Teacher Bartolomé’ has to encourage children to learn and to take care of themselves and others while respecting their identities. Watching this documentary has inspired me to carry out this work with a lot of affection even within the confinement of my desk.
I am finding myself in a comfortable routine as I start my fourth week of the fellowship. Working in the gardens continues to inform the planning process for the mural work, and I am developing relationships with the people I am working with. My coworkers are made up of permanent staff, job trainees, volunteers, and a grad student from a local college who is doing research for her biology degree. Because of this diversity in everyone’s background, I am getting feedback pleasantly informed both by people who have spent years as a part of the organization, and from those who are as new to the community as I am. Now that I have really gotten the mural work into full swing, people are more interested in talking about the designs, which I am hoping will stir up excitement for the collaborative element that I am facilitating with the members of the farm in the coming weeks.
Painting on shipping containers and with spray paint is new to me, and has proven challenging, but has pushed me to learn more about myself as an artist. As always with a new medium, I have to go back to the basics. I have started buying all of my supplies at a local spray paint shop, and through that have been able to get advice from other artists more acquainted with the material and surface I am working with.
Since my last update I was also able to attend a virtual meeting with the Wasatch Community Gardens board members. After having spent most of my time so far focused on the day-to-day, this was a great opportunity for me to understand the larger mission of the organization, as well as gain insight into how a non-profit functions. They talked about many ongoing projects at various garden locations, including new children’s programming that have introduced in response to COVID-19. Something else that caught my attention was information about the small educational campus that they are currently building at one of the community gardens. It will include classroom spaces as well as low income housing, all centered around permaculture and food autonomy. Not to get ahead of myself but I see this as a possible site for future public art projects that I could collaborate with Wasatch Community Gardens on. Though the fellowship will of course end at a certain point, I would love to continue to work with this organization.
Looking forward, these daily activities will continue, but I will also begin working on ideas for a promotion of Wasatch Community Gardens. Originally I was going to collaborate with Salt Lake City Gallery Stroll, however due to COVID-19 they are not currently doing events. An idea has sprouted from the board meeting though. James has been known to give enriching tours of the farm for potential volunteers, donors, and just visitors in general, so it seems like a natural extension for me and him to create a recorded virtual tour that talks about agriculture, art, and design. This will serve as way for people interested the participating to get acquainted with the organization and their mission. It may also aid in introducing more donors from the arts community in the city. More updates on that to come.
Last week, my presentation for both Transient Stillness and Choreography of Light were successful, and everyone from Lighting Detectives agreed to collaborate on these projects. This week was about further developing my initial proposals to make the projects more cohesive. For the first project, Transient Stillness, I completed five additional hand drawings of daylight condition in Jeju Island, South Korea. Unlike previous drawings focused on the time of sunrise and sunset, this week’s drawings were made around the time of late-morning and early-evening. The addition of these new set of drawings allowed me to focus on the transitional moments of daylight and showed many different forms and shades.
Along with these drawings, I made two time lapse videos in a similar format made by Ulrike Brandi last week in Hamburg, Germany. The first time lapse was made from around 4PM to 10PM and captured changes in sky and light conditions from late afternoon to sunset. The second video was made from around midnight to 7AM and captured changes during late evening and sunrise. Both of these videos were trials made as soon as the rainy season ended in South Korea. And I will be making more of these videos in different settings both in Jeju Island and Seoul to capture a variety of seasonal changes as well as environmental settings. My partners from Germany and Mexico will also be joining me by making more time lapses. Throughout the fellowship, we will be sharing all of our videos to observe and understand potential differences between time zones and geographical coordinates.
For the second project, Choreography of Light, this week was about doing initial research and documenting a list of sources with relevant information, including books, journals, movies, and lectures. The initial list includes literature about the poetic nature of light, such as In Praise of Shadows by Junichiro Tanizaki, The Light on Things by Peter Zumthor, Silence and Light by Louis Kahn, and The Eyes of the Skin by Juhani Pallasmaa. I also included more of the classic architecture books focused on lighting design, such as The Art of Architectural Daylighting by Mary Guzowski, Light and Design by Gyorgy Kepes, and Lighting with Steven Holl by Hervae Descottes. A journal by Nurleawati Ab. Jalil et al. titled Environmental Color Impact upon Human Behavior will be a great addition to account for psychological and perceptual properties of lighting. In order to further understand the complexity of lighting design at an urban scale, I will be reading Twenty Minutes in Manhattan by Michael Sorkin and The Power of Place by Dolores Hayden. In addition to this list, I included the movie Playtime directed by Jacques Tati as an inspiration for my projects, as each scene was carefully constructed with clever framing and lighting to intensify colors and window reflections. Starting my project with these sources as a reference would give me more of a holistic view on lighting from many different points of view.
Following the approach of the first chapter on the dark sky preservation, I did two additional chapters and photo analysis of interior lighting projects. The first project is on the Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art in Seoul, South Korea designed by Jean Nouvel, Mario Botta, and Rem Koolhaas. The second project is Kooperative Regionalleitstelle West office designed by Ulrike Brandi in Elmshorn, Germany. Through my analysis on these two projects, I wrote about the importance of light in architecture and adaptive reuse. For my written analysis, I referenced some of the literature from the list of sources including In Praise of Shadows by Junichiro Tanizaki, The Light on Things by Peter Zumthor, Silence and Light by Louis Kahn, The Art of Architectural Daylighting by Mary Guzowski, Light and Design by Gyorgy Kepes, Lighting with Steven Holl by Hervae Descottes, Twenty Minutes in Manhattan by Michael Sorkin, and The Power of Place by Dolores Hayden.
In order to properly cite the sources and explain the process of my research, I wanted to make additional pages at the end of each chapter in more of a collage style. This follows the same format of my initial project proposal for Choreography of Light with two additional pages. I will be presenting this new format to Lighting Detectives and my partners in a couple days through a video call to discuss its graphic design and feasibility. Through the video call, we will also be discussing the content for new photo analysis and the correct order/ table of contents to make a logical transition between the chapters.
On June 18th of this week, I had the first Maharam check-in meeting with Kevin Jankowski, a director of RISD career center. Kevin and I mainly discussed what I accomplished so far as well as the changes to the fellowship. The meeting with Kevin was actually so much more helpful than I imagined. Verbally explaining and summarizing the first few weeks of my fellowship helped me understand the main takeaways and challenges ahead of my project. And also Kevin asked me a few clarifying questions, which made me look at my projects at a new angle. For instance, he asked me about the LUCIA project (mentioned in my second blog post) and how I think about the public-private partnership and the government’s involvement. This question was totally unexpected, as I didn’t realize the implication of working with a public organization in another country. Also Kevin asked me to explain the purpose of adding my hand drawings and photo analysis, which made me reflect on the importance of being more transparent in my design process and documenting changes that were made along with my reflections.
Answering questions from Kevin made me realize some of the weak points of my projects that could be modified or challenged in another way. I will be sharing some of the things I learned through this meeting with the Lighting Detectives to discuss a better way to document our projects together. Moments like these truly show the fact that Maharam fellowship is all about the process more than the final outcomes. Already the project has been drastically changed from its initial proposal through the process of working with others in a virtual platform. But so much can be learned and valued in this process of receiving feedback, solving the problems, understanding potential implications, and coming up with an alternative plan. And I cannot wait to see how my projects would evolve by the time of my second and the last check-in meetings with Kevin.
My second week of the fellowship started with great excitement. An architectural designer and a lighting specialist born in Mexico City, Luca Salas Bassani Antivari joined my collaboration with Ulrike Brandi Licht and Lighting Detectives. All three of us already established a group for online chatting and exchanged email addresses to easily communicate between three different time zones. Luca’s office is located in Mexico City but he has a farm in a countryside outside of the city environment where he often stays for a weekend with his family. His involvement allowed us to have a diversity in the types of environment to gather primary resources through research and field studies. Our project will now include a port city of Hamburg through Ulrike, a country side farm and a high-altitude City of Mexico through Luca, and a volcanic island Jeju and a densely populated city of Seoul in South Korea through myself.
Earlier this week, I shared my initial ideas and project proposals to both teams along with the images I shared in my previous blog post. The presentation was successful, and everyone agreed to proceed and collaborate on (1) Transient Stillness as well as (2) Choreography of Light. And I was able to get some feedback on my proposal to make the project more cohesive and concrete. For our first project, Transient Stillness, we all decided to dedicate this week and next week to gather initial data on daylight conditions by sharing photographs and time-lapse videos. In each of our home countries, we will document how daylight changes throughout the day by doing 24-hour time lapse videos and photo collages. By sharing photos from different environment settings around the world, we hope to better understand the dynamic nature of natural light. Ulrike already shared her time lapse and photographs with us from Hamburg, Germany, which I attached below.
I couldn’t do my own time-lapse video this week in South Korea, as it is still a rainy season here. But I did capture some moments of daylight in Jeju Island through hand drawings. I focused on sunrise and sunset, time in which light changes the most at the fastest pace. I used white color pencil and ink pen on black paper to draw the light. Throughout the fellowship, I will continue to investigate and draw light. And I hope to find more new and creative ways to document light by continuously practicing my hand drawing skills.
For our second project, Choreography of Light, we decided to come up with a preliminary list of books, articles, and movies for our research on urban lighting. Last week, I wrote the first chapter on the problem of light pollution and the need to preserve dark sky through a photo analysis of Hamburg. This chapter was influenced by a research I did with Ulrike Brandi Licht this past winter through a collaboration with an organization called Lucia.
This past Thursday (June 11th), Ulrike shared exciting news that her office is now collaborating on the European project “Lucia – Lighting the Baltic Sea Region” to exchange knowledge on the subject of public lighting. The district office Altona became the lead partner of the project. Lucia begins by examining a section of the Elbe hiking between the Teufelsbrück ferry pier and the Jacob stairs. Particular attention is paid to the Elbschlosstunnel (the underpass for cyclists and pedestrians at the International Maritime Court), an important site for local recreation.
An interactive map tool and a survey are already online for the public to evaluate the current lighting situation. On June 26th, Ulrike will be leading an open lighting workshop on the Elbwanderweg. In addition to the workshop, Lucia team is hosting guided evening walks along the pilot site in cooperation with experts from the nature conservancy union “NABU” and a local police department. This project follows the objectives of Lighting Detectives and serves as an important base for the following feasibility study and future lighting concepts. And as Ulrike and her team are being one of the core members of the project, I will be able to follow the progress and assist them as part of my research and remote work.
To be honest, I was not sure how to participate in an online internship and have the same amount of passion and investment as being on site. But this week gave me so much more confidence and excitement that a successful project can be done in a virtual platform. I feel very grateful to have an amazing team supporting me from both Mexico and Germany. And I can’t wait to see how this project will progress as time goes by.
Nearing the end of my 2nd week at the urban farm, I am reflecting on my initial proposal for this summer project, and evaluating the exciting progress that is happening, as well as noting the challenges I will face with certain aspects of the fellowship that are complicated by the current health crisis. Wasatch Community Gardens is still committed to providing the tools for residents of the Salt Lake Valley to access and grow their own fresh food, though there are certain challenges to many of their usual in-person resources. Thankfully Utah has not been hit as hard by COVID-19 as many other areas have, so though caution and safety measures are being prioritized, I am able to work on site in the gardens. We are all wearing masks at all times and social distancing as much as possible, though some harvests require closer quarters.
I am finding that though it s my job to facilitate a connection to the arts for this community, they are also facilitating my connection to nature and agriculture. I have been given many of the responsibilities that are central to the job training program, including an assigned plot that I am in charge of caring for. This experience of being a part of the gardens is becoming very influential in my ideas for how to represent it through public art.
The majority of my attention is focused on integrating public art into the Green Phoenix Farm, and building a relationship with the staff and volunteers there in order to inspire the content of the mural make-over. My time volunteering in the gardens with the women in the job training program, gives me insight into how they want to be represented, and how they are interested in collaborating. Through casual conversation as we garden I have been able to collect exciting suggestions that will fuel the content of the murals. Many of these women though new to the world of agriculture, have taken a keen interest in plant identification, and understanding the personalities of each species. We have decided to pull this thread into the decorative elements of the design plan, painting dandelions on the first shipping container. Cher and Mona Lisa explained to me that though many underestimate them to be a weed with little value, dandelions are resilient, edible, and can make for great companion crops. These women rebuilding their lives from homelessness through the job training program feel that their experience is reflected in a plant that is so useful and beautiful, yet is underestimated and undervalued. I plan to continue to incorporate their plant knowledge into future designs for the other shipping containers, as a way to represent this community indirectly.
One of the challenges that I did not initially anticipate, is that for me to provide an artistic outlet for the community at the farm, I will have to work with the social distancing safety protocols, which excludes many of my initial ideas. However conversations with the staff, and with James the farm lead, have resulted in a plan to reintroduce a tradition that has already existed on the farm previously. The reason it is called The Green Phoenix Farm, is because it was renamed after a devastating fire that destroyed much of the plot a few seasons ago. One of the buildings that was destroyed had a mural where community members could leave their hand prints as a way to be remembered, and to build an art piece together, over time. Now that the farm is rebuilt, there is an opportunity for me to facilitate a new version of this tradition. Themes of growing over time, and giving an opportunity for everyone to participate feel central to both myself and the community at the farm.
In such a short time I have already been inspired by, and learned so much from the community at this urban farm. I am looking forward to the ways that this project will effect my personal painting and drawing practice, but for now I am spending most of my sketching time working on ideas for some of the larger shipping containers that have space for a more complicated design. Excuse the crude photoshop, but here is one of the potential ideas for one of the larger surfaces. The border may become a place for volunteers and staff to sign their names, or add their own embellishments.
First Week of My Maharam Experience – Yunni Cho, BFA Interior Architecture & A.B Urban Studies & A.B Cognitive Neuroscience 2021
Through Maharam Fellowship this summer, I proposed to conduct research with Ulrike Brandi in Hamburg, Germany by investigating the problem of light pollution and developing new ways to approach sustainable lighting. Ulrike Brandi is an internationally acclaimed lighting designer and educator, who has a Tanteidan chapter in Hamburg. She has knowledge both in the field of architecture and lighting design and dedicates her practice to environmental sustainability. Tanteidan organization allows opportunities for me to organize and participate in various activities, which includes: City Walks and Lighting Salon, Urban Nightscape Survey, Publications, Seminars and Exhibitions, Workshops and Citizen Participation Events, and Transnational Tanteidan Forum.
The Lighting Detectives was founded with an objective to physically go out with our own feet and eyes to observe lighting in actual use instead of relying on theories, ideologies, and preconceptions. The organization’s goal is to detect, observe, and gather experiences to understand lighting at a deeper level. This allows the public to participate and understand public policy through various educational activities and workshops. Its vision includes sharing local lighting culture from around the world to offer a platform to share knowledge and inspiration obtained from it. Respecting the identity of various lighting cultures and providing activities to learn, think about, and enjoy through mutual interaction, the Lighting Detectives strives to create the future and ideal being of sustainable lighting. Currently, there are over 500 international members from various backgrounds, including lighting professionals, researchers, architects, designers, students, and businessmen with a collective interest in lighting. The aim is to make the knowledge of lighting design more approachable and accessible for the citizens. By allowing a wider range of audience to understand the problem of lighting pollution at an urban scale, the organization also contributes to a global commitment towards environmental sustainability.
Due to the current circumstances related to COVID-19, physical interactions with the wider public are extremely difficult. This, however, allows for creative solutions to be proposed and implemented to create a similar experience in the virtual world. Based on extensive lighting environment studies and practical fieldwork, the Lighting Detectives is a place to discuss the future of humanity and better light. The organization is dedicated to the study of lighting culture – all things surrounding and concerned with light. The Lighting Detectives can still strive to pursue its aim by holding regular online meetings and also participating in various outside events, which can happen through zoom meetings and skype calls.
My main goal for this internship is to develop a well-documented lighting booklet through which design and urban planning can come together. I would like to research through online field studies and virtual interviews from lighting experts to obtain knowledge on this emerging field. Using my home country, South Korea, as well as Hamburg as case studies, my research will develop a comprehensive system with defined lighting hierarchy and categories for different types of urban spaces. My aim is to understand what a responsible lighting is and how it can be achieved by combining my design skills with urban education. Additionally, I would like to participate in publishing my research online to communicate my research and get feedback from the different groups of citizens.
The Lighting Detectives have established necessary partnerships to be able to organize these activities, which I would like to contribute. Although the project has been modified to be held online with me being home in South Korea, not in Germany, the organization has been extremely helpful and supportive to make this internship even more meaningful. I am now collaborating with the Hamburg chapter as well as an interior architect and a lighting designer from Mexico City to expand my project at a global scale. Throughout this partnership, I would have continuous mentorship from Ulrike Brandi and her office with their decades of professional experience. They will provide me with constant feedback and opportunities to present my research to her colleagues and fellow lighting experts. This would allow me to develop a holistic understanding towards lighting design by directly working with the industry and the experts.
Our collaboration already began this week, and I was able to virtually meet everyone who is helping me on this project and schedule group zoom meetings between three different time zones – South Korea, Mexico, and Germany. On Friday (June 5th), I presented two different ideas for the collaboration with a written proposal supported by my drawings, titled (1) Transient Stillness and (2) Choreography of Light. And I am now waiting for the initial feedback from both Hamburg and Mexico to start the collaboration next week. For my next blog post, I will inform you how the conversation went and what projects I will be working on for the next twelve weeks.