for the lighting detectives, a nonprofit group dedicated to the study of lighting culture, their fourth annual forum, the Lighting of Public Space: Main Street(s), held on September 22 at the Center for Architecture in Manhattan, was a vehicle for an international discussion on the lighting of global locales.
With presentations by individuals from six cities-New York, Tokyo, Singapore, Copenhagen, Stockholm, and Hamburg-the diversity of main street lighting was apparent. In Hamburg, for example, light levels are kept low for unhindered views of its three rivers, the Alster, the Bille, and the Elbe; whereas in Tokyo, the only dark section of the city is the area surrounding and containing the emperor's palace. One aspect the cities share is the role that retail lighting plays in their urban settings. Whether lit with LEDs, fiber optics, or fluorescent sources, stores provide illumination at the pedestrian level, delineating major thoroughfares.
The presentation speakers, all lighting designers, included: Aleksandra Stratimirovic from Stockholm; Ulrike Brandi from Hamburg; Reiko Kasai from Singapore; Lisbeth Skindbjerg Kristensen from Denmark; Jason Neches from New York; and Kaoru Mende from Tokyo. A panel discussion followed the presentations, touching on issues such as dark sky and lighting regulations. It was moderated by New York-based lighting designer Linnaea Tillett.
Established in 1990 by Mende, the group of like-minded enthusiasts continues to grow. In 2004, Neches and fellow New York-based lighting designer Eleni Savvidou, who introduced the speakers throughout the evening, established the New York chapter. All members take part in fieldwork outings to discover examples of interesting illumination, whether by planned design or happy accident. In addition to initiating temporary 'Light Ups,' during which unlit objects or landmarks are illuminated for 24 hours (the most recent, a kite 'Light Up' in Bali), and nightscape walking tours to observe urban lighting environments, the detectives hunt for 'Heroes and Villains'-lighting that moves observers in positive and adverse ways.
Appreciating cultural lighting differences and sharing their findings, the Lighting Detectives' thoughts on their own locales reiterated the use of unique fixtures and approaches to light that happen when local voices give lighting its place.
For more information on the organization and its upcoming events, visit www.lightingdetectives.org. sm