URBAN LIGHTSCAPES | DOC

Making Urban Lightscapes is a video documentation of Urban Lightscapes project. Urban Lightscapes is a collaborative European program about urban lighting and how it can change city identity. The project started in November 2013, which was designated as the European Year of Citizens and it concluded in the spring of 2015, the International Year of Light by Unesco. Urban light interventions “Color ex Machina” and “Mosaic”, in two Maastricht neighborhoods have been the culmination of a procedure of creative dialogue, research and experimentation that had as a starting point in a European Symposium in ?thens Onassis Cultural Centre and it continued in Barcelona with an experimentation workshop in IAAC (Institute of Advanced Architecture of Catalonia).

Urban Lightscapes brought together academics, light artists and professionals, as well as the local communities of three different European cities.
These last two years have been an intense, difficult but also exciting journey for Beforelight group and their partners that broadened our horizons through new experiences. The following video captures and sums up the project and its goals, with a backstage glimpse to its journey through three different cities.

Directed by Eirini Steirou
Interviews: Benoit Vanraes, José Schuringa, Cristina Ampatzidou,Dina Evangelou
Footage shot by Eirini Steirou, Edward Van Kempen, Laura Zuallaert
Editing and sound mix by Stavros Symeonidis
Music by Manos Milonakis

The project

During the last decade urban lighting concepts have been employed in order to accommodate the needs for commodity and security in urban areas. Exterior lighting has so far been considered only as a technical factor regardless of the social environment and not in connection with the citizens that are directly affected by the way it is used. It has also been noticed that numerous deprived urban areas in Europe tend to be characterised by outdoor low-light conditions, which often make people feel insecure, alienated and frustrated.

In this context, the main object of this project, initiated by the light art group BEFORELIGHT, is to investigate and practically experiment on the relationship between urban lighting and the civil society while trying to encourage dialogue, active participation and creativity.

By bringing together local communities, academic and professional contributors and light artists from around Europe the project’s goal and its concrete outcome is to create participatory light installations in specific neighborhoods of Maastricht, the Netherlands. Such an attempt will also be the result of a multidisciplinary and experiment – oriented process that will previously take place in Greece and Spain through the preparation of a Symposium and a Workshop.  The project’s aim is to encourage local communities to get engaged in actions that bring changes in public spaces and urban environments through the collaboration of artists, designers, scientists and social partners.

Overall, the purpose of the “Urban Lightscapes” project is to become a successful example of interdisciplinary, transnational and cultural cooperation while reflecting on public lighting. The artistic lighting installation aspires to bring changes not only in the chosen areas but also in other European communities that may use this project as a case study for future reference. Last but not least it wishes to be a good example of methodology for other future light installations. The challenge is to change the way citizens perceive open spaces and urban lighting by encouraging them to actively participate in such collaborative projects.

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