Landscapes - Winter 2013 - (Page 14)

ESSAY KEVIN CONNERY WE ARE MODERN DAY LAMPLIGHTERS FR_ LES ALLUMEURS DE RÉVERBÈRES MODERNES BEFORE LIGHT-EMITTING DIODES and fluorescent lamps arrived, before halogen, metal halide and high-pressure sodium luminaires, and before Edison’s longlasting incandescent light bulb, there were candles and reservoirs of oil perched atop poles. And there were lamplighters who roamed the city at dusk with ladders to light the street lamps and then returned at dawn to put the flames out. The lamplighter brought light to the dark, and in the process captured the imagination of a literary giant, Robert-Louis Stevenson. LAMPLIGHTERS SANS WICKS One could argue that landscape architects are modern day lamplighters, sans the ladders and wicks, of course. We play an important role in the experience of cities after sunset, and by extension, in how the night landscape stirs the imagination. Our decisions can and should transcend the quantitative dimensions of fi xtures, poles, photometry, durability, effi ciency and safety to explore the phenomenology of light and dark, the impact of light on circadian rhythms and ecological processes, and notions of “Dark Sky.” At times, we should even ask the question, “Do we really need artifi cial lighting?” 14 LANDSCAPES PAYSAGES OUR INNATE FEAR OF THE DARK Composite images of the earth at night reveal the extent of our desire to illuminate. Few parts of the inhabited planet are truly in the dark. In the developed world, our propensity to light all but the most awkward or forgotten corners of our cities speaks to both our innate fear of the dark as well as how cheap our energy supply is. There are unquestionably tremendous benefits associated with lighting the night. Street lights make navigating city streets safer. Lighting in parks and along walkways makes for safer places that are useable by more people, for more hours. As I write this article, I am wholly dependent on light, both that which resides inside the computer as well as the nearby floor lamp. As I rode home from work this evening, I relied on my bike’s batterypowered lighting both to illuminate the path and to illuminate me to reduce the likelihood of being run over. HOW AND WHY WE LIGHT Yet in 2008, my sense of how and why we light shifted profoundly. I spent time in a remote part of Africa where the nearest electrified light was hundreds of kilometres away. When dusk receded and darkness settled in, the blackness rendered sight inconsequential. In its place other senses came forward: the smell of savannah grasses; the rumbling roar of lions; the feeling of the dry tropical air. It was a reminder of how much our experience of the world is dominated by what we see, perhaps to our own diminishment. In our rush to automatically apply minimum acceptable lumen levels established by, among others, the Illuminating Engineering Society, artificial lighting is now so ubiquitous that we have come to accept it as an entitlement. This blind embrace of standards is not without consequences. Nocturnally migrating birds have been found veering off their traditional flyways and drawn to oil rigs in the North Sea. Dutch researchers found these birds were disoriented and attracted by red and white light (containing visible long-wavelength radiation), whereas they were clearly less disoriented by blue and green light (containing less or no visible long-wavelength radiation). There are many other faunal impacts. Newborn sea turtles are crawling inland rather than moving towards the sea and nocturnal insects are flocking to the cities. In response to high mortality rates due to birds crashing into buildings, Chicago became the first U.S. city to encourage building owners to dim the lights in tall building. Through the “Lights Out” program, Chicago’s tall buildings have all turned off their decorative lights during spring and fall bird migration. The City of Toronto’s “Lights Out Toronto” initiative is similarly intent on reducing the impact of artificial light on avian wildlife. Provocative posters illustrate the dangers buildings and urban areas pose for migrating birds and

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Landscapes - Winter 2013

Excitable Photons in the Ether | Photons affolés
99 Red Balloons | Light by the Barrel | Something Old, Something New | Cambridge Lights Up | Emptyful
We are Modern Day Lamplighters | Les allumeurs de réverbères modernes ….
The Lights Come Up on 3 Exceptional Landscapes | Les lumières s’allument sur trois paysages exceptionnels
Champ-de-Mars: Shedding Light on History | La lumière au service de l’histoire
To Infinity and Beyond! | Par delà l’infini!
The Gros Morne Challenge | Le défi de Gros-Morne
Cypress Hills: Land of the Living Skies | Cypress Hills : où le ciel s’anime
Urban Parks: To Light or Not to Light? | Parcs urbains : doit-on les éclairer? ….
Lightitude: Lighting Under a Capricious Sky | Lightitude : éclairer sous un ciel capricieux
A Pragmatist’s Guide | Guide pragmatique
Three Riffs on Custom Design | Trois approches du design personnalisé
Seeing Light | Voir la lumière
Representing Landscapes, Ed. Nadia Amoroso.
Collaborators |Collaborateurs
Game Changers | Nouvelle donne : quatre decennies en lumiere

Landscapes - Winter 2013