The Vulnerable Cities of Light

Philip Lee

Interior the new spectacle 6

The use of natural and artificial light by artists, theorists and architects has directly influenced spatial politics. The Vulnerable Cities of Light draws attention to the violent properties of light and shadow and re-directs the medium to support the emerging political theory of "Horizontal Experimentalism" by Rahel Süß. Conflict, which isn't necessarily of barbarism but of an evolving eclecticism of the experienced, is accepted as a permanent social ideology with architectural fixtures in constant flux to reterritorialise the boundaries of contemporary city life.

Forms, apertures, materials and medias are used as agencies to deconstruct and reconstruct the physical and social constructions of the existing metropolises, questioning the idea of privacy and publicity, the power structure of spaces and the network of global scenes. [Right Image: Large building-site under arc-lights. Source: Fontaine, Eclairage a l' electricite]

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The Plafond Limineux is a permanent installation represented through a series of images on the first half of this page. A planar light is staged on the eastern territory of New Zealand - the Motuhara Islands - with permanent concrete walls and ceiling enclosing its periphery. The projection from the floor runs perpetually, immersing fragments of the island and the visitors through a cloud of artificial light. It is only momentarily, when the morning sun enters the space through the eastern entryway, the electric-lighting shuts down into darkness. The installation sits in between the fiction and the visionary, referencing the industrialisation and centralisation of light in the city. The entertainment serves to assimilate the unsettling permanence of the contemporaries in relation to operation, surveillance, authority and monumentality of light.

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The two images above show the Undocumented Objects in action - a collaborative installation project with Yeri Lee. It consisted of a foldable frame with defamiliarised everyday objects suspended and adhered to the structure. The instrument made its way to O'Connell Street in Auckland CBD as part of a late night art exhibition. The image depicts the immaterialised experience of a public member having autonomy over the spotlight, which interferes with the idea of authority and privacy on the streets. The installation was re-adapted to suspend drawings in the final presentation. The study of representing light and shadow continued to evolve using chalk. Below is a series of drawings completed in Europe, observing the theatrics of light and architecture during the journey.

Europe 2022 Travel Sketches2