LIVING ROOM UNDER THE HIGHWAY
Lighting in the 21th century
The invention of the light bulb as a mass product by Thomas Alva Edison at the end of the 19th century, for the first time in the history, allowed artificial lighting to turn night into a day. After initial euphoria and series of failed attempts to floodlight entire cities, question of quantity and quality of light required to perform certain tasks rose. A comprehensive catalogue of norms and regulations has been developed for lighting design in public spaces since then.
These regulations are, almost exclusively based on physiological aspects of the human eye, whereas psychological aspects of the human perception are completely ignored. The result is a quantity orientated light planning that focuses on providing uniform ambient lighting, primarily concerning the visibility of our environment. The architecture and the perceiving human being are disregarded.
In the midst of the 20th century, a new approach to designing with light was developed. The perception process was no longer understood as a pure reproduction of images , nor photographing of our environment, but as a subjective interpretation of the human being itself. This had far-reaching consequences for the lighting design, because we now realize that the light determines the process of perception. Consequently, the lighting design has a major influence in the way we perceive our build environment.
The architectural lighting and the lighting design in our private environments in the 21th century are increasingly focused on the perceiving human being, whereas the lighting for many public areas, such as streets and underpasses, remain dull, surreal and uninviting.
The light installation ‘Living room under the highway’ wants to raise awareness of the shortcomings in public lighting justified by safety and security concerns. It critically deals with the outdated public lighting, by contrasting it with the cliché of a typical private living room illumination. The living room represents an anarchistic way of lighting that almost naturally interacts with vivid light colours, strong contrasts and non-uniform light distribution. The result is an illumination, which puts emphasis on the wellbeing that positively contributes to the feeling of safety and security.