Light as Lived Space: Investigations into the Modern Visual Environment as Represented in Urban Literature
As Chris Otter argues in The Victorian Eye, historians have tended to frame and analyse experiences of light in the 19th century city through ‘inadequate and misleading’ visual concepts. I propose a theoretical and historical investigation of light that would seek to connect design theory back to empirical reality, taking into account the everyday, embodied experiences of cities, throughout all times and seasons. To do so, I intend to adopt an interdisciplinary methodology set out by the architectural theorist Klaske Havik in her book Urban Literacy: a ‘scriptive method’ involving the reconstruction of historical and topographic realities surrounding ‘evocative descriptions’ of lived experiences within literature. In addition to sustainability issues, the unexpected physical and mental health concerns now related to under- or over-exposure to particular types of light, imply that a new approach to light within architecture, supplementing the quantitative and technical, is now overdue. My aim is to hone a methodology for lighting research that uses subjectivity to discover the conditions for – and qualify the architectural implications of – objectivity: contextualising technics and demystifying latent modernist ideologies concerning light.