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From Light to Dark

Daylight, Illumination, and Gloom

2017
Author:

Tim Edensor

From Light to Dark

A fascinating and unprecedented look at how illumination and darkness shape our experiences across history and space

Despite the shared human experience in which spaces appear radically different depending on time, season, and weather, social science investigation on the subject is meager. From Light to Dark fills this gap, focusing on our interaction with daylight, illumination, and darkness and analyzing a vast array of artistic interventions, diverse spaces, and lighting technologies to explore these most basic human experiences.

Illumination is one of the aspects of life that has become so obvious we have stopped noticing it. In this innovative and illuminating book, Tim Edensor provides an elegant and necessary account of light and dark, their role in the production of everyday life, the stories we tell about them, and the emotions they engender. He has performed a key task of any critical thinker—taking the obvious and making it visible again.

Tim Cresswell, Trinity College

Light pervades the world, and when it is not light, darkness emerges and is combated by electric illumination. Despite this globally shared human experience in which spaces appear radically different depending on time, season, and weather, social science investigation on the subject is meager. From Light to Dark fills this gap, focusing on our interaction with daylight, illumination, and darkness.

Tim Edensor begins by examining the effects of daylight on our perception of landscape, drawing on artworks, particular landscapes, and architectural practice. He then considers the ways in which illumination is often contested and can be used to express power, looking at how capitalist, class, ethnic, military, and state power use lighting to reinforce their authority over space. Edensor also considers light artists such as Olafur Eliasson and festivals of illumination before turning a critical eye to the supposedly dangerous, sinister associations of darkness. In examining the modern city as a space of fantasy through electric illumination, he studies how we are seeking—and should seek—new forms of darkness in reaction to the perpetual glow of urban lighting.

Highly original and absorbingly written, From Light to Dark analyzes a vast array of artistic interventions, diverse spaces, and lighting technologies to explore these most basic human experiences.

From Light to Dark

Tim Edensor teaches cultural geography at Manchester Metropolitan University (UK). He is the author of Tourists at the Taj; National Identity, Popular Culture, and Everyday Life; and Industrial Ruins: Space, Aesthetics, and Materiality.

From Light to Dark

Illumination is one of the aspects of life that has become so obvious we have stopped noticing it. In this innovative and illuminating book, Tim Edensor provides an elegant and necessary account of light and dark, their role in the production of everyday life, the stories we tell about them, and the emotions they engender. He has performed a key task of any critical thinker—taking the obvious and making it visible again.

Tim Cresswell, Trinity College

The wealth of sources and documents one finds in From Light to Dark is one of the great merits of the book.

Leonardo

From Light to Dark

Contents
Introduction: Geographies of Light and Dark
Part I. Light
1. Seeing with Landscape, Seeing with Light
2. Under the Dynamic Sky: Living and Creating with Light
Part II. Illumination
3. Electric Desire: Lighting the Vernacular and Illuminating Nostalgia
4. Caught in the Light: Power, Inequality, and Illumination
5. Festivals of Illumination: Painting and Playing with Light
6. Staging Atmosphere: Public Extravaganzas and Domestic Designs
Part III. Dark
7. Nocturnes: Changing Meanings of Darkness
8. The Reenchantment of Darkness: The Pleasures of Noir
Conclusion: The Novelty of Light and the Value of Darkness
Acknowledgments
Bibliography
Index