Skip to main content

International Day of Light: Exhibition and Symposium

Written by
Postgraduate Community
Published date
25 May 2018
Words by Sara BuosoArt and Design Research Fellow at CSM

On the 16th May, a one-day event celebrated the role of light in arts, science, culture and sustainable development. The event was thought in response to the first edition of the International Day of Light, a UNESCO led-initiative, aimed to increase awareness on the importance of light in society.

A symposium brought together artists, academics, curators, discussing how the heritance of light in visual arts can be rethought the context of contemporary art-practices. Key-note Dr, Theresa Junko Mikuriya inaugurated the day with a paper, titled From Photophania to Photagogia: A Journey in the History of Light, which addressed a discussion upon the writing and the evocation of light.

At the core of this debate was the emergence of light-based practices, developed from an investigation on how modern technologies have entered artistic discourses. Dr. Cliff Lauson, Senior Curator at Hayward Gallery, spoke about his curatorial experience for the internationally acclaimed exhibition Light-show, 2013, followed by artist Kim Coleman who introduced her practice through a series of solo and collaborative works, including Polarised, 2016, and Winter Sun, 2014, designed for Granary Square in Kings’ Cross. Mariel A. Garcia-Salinas, in collaboration with Laura Arroyo-Rocha, reflected on the experience of working as architect and light-designer, discussing The Influence of Light on How Humans Experience the Built Environment. Michaela French, PhD candidate at RCA, introduced her research project, focused on ecological approaches to artistic light observations, initiated in 2015 in the occasion of the International Year of Light, UNESCO.
Postgraduate students Hao Zhang and Yui Chee-Lee, in collaboration with Maxenfece Effantin discussed light in the context of graphic design, introducing a discussion on the dichotomy of light and darkness. Sam Winston presented the continuous project Dark Residence, developed through a 4-month participatory installation at the Southbank Center and a live performance at Whitechapel Gallery.

Fay Ballard spoke about her artistic work, focused on autobiography and psychoanalysis, in coincidence with the opening of the exhibition Breathe at the Freud Museum. Fine-art artist Robert Verrill discussed how phenomenology of vision can affect artistic practices through the polarities of good/evil, life/death, presence/absence.

The attention was drawn to the intersections in between art and science, reflecting upon technologies of vision and cosmologies. Artist Laura Santamaria introduced the project Drawing from Lighting which proposes an artistic interpretation of light-phenomena and sources of energy. Dr. Sharon Phelps discussed artistic meditative practices through a reading of works by artists Agnes Martin, Gabriel Orozco and Gabriel de la Mora. Peter Taylor, PhD Candidate at the UCL’s Mullard Space Science Laboratory, joint the conversation, sharing his experience of working in a scientific laboratory through a reading of astronomic novel techniques. UAL Alumni Maria Luigia Gioffre’, presented her work Impossibility to see the sky, drawn from an enquiry upon technologies and imagination.

The symposium concluded with key-notes Garry Fabian Miller and Melanie King who entered in conversation by discussing artistic approaches to light.  By introducing their artistic practices, focused on landscape and cosmology, the artists discussed how the artist can be understood as a medium of light.At the Morgue Project space, the exhibition Day of Light, curated by LUMEN, presented the works of contemporary artists, interested in exploring the limits of the visible. A series of drawings and graphic works by artists Sharon Phelps and Laura Santamaria, along with the astronomical photographs by Melanie King, focused on representations of light, drawn from natural phenomena. Installations by Victoria Doyle, Lisa Pettibone and Louise Beer proposed an investigation upon the limits of the visible and light’s phenomneology. Video projections by artists Diego Valente and Rebecca Huxley explored t the limits of visual phenomena to create immersive experiences of light.

This one-day event highlighted innovative and experimental approaches to light in the context of contemporary arts by generating an interdisciplinary discussion between arts, practices, philosophies, science and technologies of light.


Organised by Sara Buoso, PhD Candidate at CSM, Melanie King, PhD Student at Royal College of Arts, the Light PG Reading group at CSM and LUMEN.

International Day of Light Blog

Check out the next event at Lumen Studios