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June 8, 2020

First Week of My Maharam Experience – Yunni Cho, BFA Interior Architecture & A.B Urban Studies & A.B Cognitive Neuroscience 2021

by Yunni

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. 

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