Light and the Tempo-Spatial Language of Loss

Authors: Kirstie Jamieson*, Edinburgh Napier Universiity, Euan Winton, Edinburgh Napier University, Dianne Wills, Edinburgh Napier University
Topics: Cultural Geography, Urban Geography, Geography and Urban Health
Keywords: Light Installation, Remembrance, Design, ‘Atmosphere of Loss’, Public Engagement
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/12/2018
Start / End Time: 10:00 AM / 11:40 AM
Room: Galerie 1, Marriott, 2nd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries we amassed a wide array of ‘instruments of evocation’ (Whitehead 2009) that functioned as a ‘catalyst to remembrance’ (ibid.). These modern instruments of ritual and memory codified symbolic embodied practices of grief and formalised ‘atmospheres of loss’ (Jamieson 2017). In the twenty-first century, the language of remembrance shifts from the allegorical and material to the abstract and immaterial. In this context, the light installation emerges as an ‘instrument of evocation’ that performs the presence of loss through a restorative aesthetics. In this shift from the material to the immaterial landscape of grieving light installations provide phenomenological acts of remembrance that reveal the ‘performative commemorative’ (Santino 2006) nature of grief. This paper reflects upon the light installation Life, Death, Lilies, which invited members of the public to participate in the making of a commemorative light garden in Edinburgh. It suggests that remembrance exists presently through newly unfolding emotional, material and immaterial assemblages that provide the ‘invisible landscape’ (Ryden 1993) of grief with a ‘more-than-representational’ approach to remembrance. This something-more is ‘not fully attributable to the objectual set of that space’ (Griffero 2010), but is felt relationally between bodies, space and the fleeting movement of light. The paper argues that relational experiences of mourning afforded through lighting design extend the ‘transferability of memory to things’ (Forty 1999).

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