Photo by Leni
The NightSeeing program’s intention is to open people’s eyes to an existing nighttime milieu, as well as providing an overview of public lighting theory in an experiential setting.
Photos by Leni
NightSeeing was presented on January 11th, 2011, as part of the Architecture, Residential, Commercial (ARC) Lighting Show in London. This interactive experience was a guide to the nocturnal lighting environment, culminating in an hour-long evening walk through The Angel, Islington district.
Photos by Leni
NightSeeing London consisted of two parts. The first section comprised a LightTalk during conference hours, providing a basic understanding of the systems lighting our cities. The second aspect, LightWalk, was the after-dark walk, in which I decoded the shadows, emanations and reflections that defined the nightscape—from shop silhouettes and signage to streetlights and the phantom photons of passing cars.
Photos by Leni
Numbering approximately 50 participants, , we started off from the Business Design Center – equipped for the London weather with glowing umbrellas, a gift from Lighting Alliance/UK. As the group explored the rain-whipped streets of The Angel in Islington—amid the pulsing neon and Saturday night pedestrian and vehicular traffic—the attendees’ many observations and insights created the atmosphere of a movable symposium on the after-dark urban environment.
Photos L to R by M Kramer, Andy Spain, M Kramer
Among the significant features of The Angel we focused on were the distinctions between two of the district’s retail sites.
N1 Centre, with the glare of stark white-metal surfaces and shop fronts, was offset by illuminated public art.
Camden Passage was distinguished by its handmade surfaces—especially its painted signs and the charming window displays. In one instance, the reflection of high-pressure sodium light from a lettered sign created an illusion of gleaming gold.
I was pleased and astonished that the attendees at the ARC Show NightSeeing™ were from many nations— including South Africa, Serbia, Germany, Netherlands, France, Norway, and of course, the UK.
Moreover, The Angel event was for me, personally, a kind of homecoming. In the 1970s, I resided in North and East London for a number of years. Bicycling to Camden Passage and the Chapel Market, in the Angel, and riding the 73-bus and the Northern Line are reference points in my memory of London. I attended London Film School in Covent Garden, and learned to be very observant of a fully sensorial London with its familiarly welcoming sounds, sights and smells. What a privilege and pleasure, then, so many years later, revisit these environs, and to be in the Angel as an interpreter to of the after-dark streets.
The idea for the NightSeeing program originated with a class I taught—at New York‘s Parsons School of Design—in which we would explore urban environments at night. As soon as we walked out the door there were things to contemplate and discuss. The smallest pixel of light turned into a subject. The excursion became like a treasure hunt, a way of recognizing both “found”, existing light and designed light.
From these modest beginnings, NightSeeing evolved into site-specific itinerary for the benefit of lighting designers who work with architects, landscape architects, engineers and other urban design professionals illuminating city structures and locations.
The NightSeeing programme focuses on an ever expanding variety of luminous possibilities. My personal dream is to take NightSeeing™ to 50 cities in two years.
NightSeeing™ is a trademark of Leni Schwendinger Light Projects LTD.
All photos courtesy Andy Spain Photography except where noted.
Other NightSeeing Resources
Blog articles, including Times Square, Lyon, Washington D.C.
NightSeeing Website, including guestbook