With the rapidly progressing development and establishment of LED technology as an alternative to conventional illuminants and the gradual prohibition of light bulbs in the EU in 2009, the lighting industry is currently experiencing a phase of radical technological change and reorientation in terms of content. At the same time, debates about climate change and light pollution worldwide have led to reflecting on the use of light. These new developments have now added a concrete dimension to terms such as energy efficiency and sustainability. In aesthetic areas, LED technology offers refined possibilities for color design, light distribution, light regulation, and displays by means of control systems.
How is this new potential that is opening itself up currently being used?
LED technology presents the possibility of replacing conventional illuminants, yet its properties, such as efficiency and precise distribution, cannot always be optimally used in this area. The situation is different in the development of new lighting systems and illuminants in which the qualities of LED are systematically applied. Technological developments bring in their wake changes to lighting concepts. Thus, for example, the entire façades of buildings are equipped with LED light points and serve as advertising space or visual attractions in the nighttime cityscape. In conjunction with potent contractors, well-known architects use the apparently endless spectrum of forms and colorsfrom text to filmfor spectacular displays on their buildings. While this focus on fast visual effects uses one aspect of the aesthetic possibilities of the new technology, by contrast, the potential for energy efficiency is counteracted, and the problem of light pollution, which turns night into day and causes harm to people and nature, is largely ignored.
Slow Light Creates a New Awareness for light
The Langsames Licht / Slow Light concept pursues the goal of establishing an alternative to this trend toward the spectacular and aggressive use of light and demands a conscious handling of light both outdoors as well as indoors. The technological benefits are deliberately applied in a sustainable way, while at the same time new aesthetic forms are developed whose policy of “less light” makes the special qualities of this immaterial medium, which can only be perceived in an illuminated state, discernible. Thus, a change in thinking is initiated with respect to the meaning and impact of light in everyday life, from which can develop a new awareness for light.
Slow Light is not only a statement and a philosophy, but follows concrete guidelines:
Initial Considerations, Context, and Concept (by Siegrun Appelt)
For around fifteen years now, as an artist I have been dealing with issues revolving around the interrelationship between perception and technological development, and with investigations into how new technologies change our perception and our everyday lives and how they can be sensibly employed.
In the past several years, one of my focuses has been working with light. Numerous projects developed in collaboration with museums (such as with the Museum moderner Kunst Wien in Vienna) and other institutions (German Pavilion at the Architecture Biennale in Venice in 2010, ISEA 2010, et al.). Information about the individual projects can be found at my website www.siegrunappelt.com.
For me as an artist, the large-scale concept of Langsames Licht / Slow Light is a continuation of my formal-aesthetic examination of the relationship between natural and artificial light and how it affects human perception. Much more so than previous projects, I attempt to combine artistic considerations with scientific investigations, social issues, and economic developments.
My aim is to transfer my artistic approaches to an applied context and achieve a mediating, mutually beneficial collaboration between research institutions, politics, art, and the economy from which arises a positive influence on current developments in dealing with (above all artificial) light and its use. The potential of (both artificial as well as natural) light for the generation of emotionally harmonious spaces will be illuminated from various angles and subsequently implemented in an ideal way. I would like to use the insight that results from this examination of light, space, and human beings to raise more awareness for current lighting situations and at the same time point out alternatives to existing approaches. In much the same way as, for example, it has occurred in culinary culture based on various initiatives, such as the beginnings of the slow food movement, in the course of the continuing innovations in the lighting sector it is necessary to fundamentally reflect on and promote awareness for the interrelationship between darkness and light as well as the space-defining impact of light beyond spectacular lighting scenarios. In order to do this it is necessary to understand new technologies in order to be able to apply and/or adapt them accordingly.
Thus, a primary feature of the project is also an intense exchange with a variety of specialists, who contribute important information, research results, and conceptual impulses toward a theoretical-discursive as well as practical approach to the subject. Besides the publication of texts and discussions by and with architects (such as Peter Zumthor), scientists (such as Anna Wirz on the subject of chronobiology), and architecture theorists (such as Sigrid Hauser) as well as many others listed on the Slow Light website, a conference and a publication are planned that reflect/illustrate the mediating and interdisciplinary approach of the overall project.