Book on Finnish lighting design launched at PQ19 in Prague
360 Degrees – Focus on Lighting Design (2019) puts together Finnish perspectives on today’s lighting design as well as its history, viewed from our current standpoint.
Finnish context of lighting design may be small in size of nation but because of the art university education of the lighting designers since 1986, there has been a constant need for non-technical discussion about light as a medium and artistic use of it. The original Finnish version of the book Avauskulmia – Kirjoituksia valosuunnittelusta (2017) celebrated the 30-year anniversary of lighting design education at the Theatre Academy in Finland. The brand new English edition reminds now global audiences of the richness and diversity of light in all its uses.
In the open call for texts from Finland, in the end of the year 2015, we, the editorial board, Humalisto–Karjunen–Kilpeläinen, expressed a desire for different perspectives. We asked what the relation between lighting design and performance in performing arts is today, and what are the different professional identities of a lighting designer. We were also interested to find out what kind of possibilities and challenges we now face in terms of expressing light. We also asked what light art is, in relation to lighting design, and how the diversification of artistic working methods and roles are reflected on lighting design. The burning issues of the 2010s, in terms of ecological conscience and politics, and how these relate to lighting design were also of interest to the editorial board. We were also fishing for perspectives on the technological development in lighting design and the teaching of lighting design.
So how did the writers respond to the call? Surveying the collection of writings, we can clearly see three different subject areas or perspectives. Under the headline Multidisciplinary perspectives on lighting design, lighting designer Tarja Ervasti, lighting and video designer and university lecturer in lighting design, Kimmo Karjunen, me, lighting designer and scenographer Raisa Kilpeläinen, director Kaisa Korhonen, dancer-choreographer and former professor in dance Ari Tenhula write about the history of lighting design from the perspectives of their respective professions.
Ervasti writes about theatre and dance art that is site-specific and environmental, drawing on lighting designs she created in the 1980s and 1990s. Karjunen writes about the time when video design became part of performing arts in Finland. Kilpeläinen, meanwhile, reviews the history and present-day status of lighting design education at the Theatre Academy. Korhonen provides an autobiographical take on the historic phases of Finnish lighting design in the theatre field, thanking many of her collaboration partners. Tenhula draws a long development arc from American dance art to lighting design.
Another topic that has inspired writers, Dimensions of authorship relates to the work of the lighting designer and different definitions of authorship. There are also included writings that inspect lighting design and its definition in relation to various professional perspectives and visual-spatial forms of expression.
Lighting designer Meri Ekola ponders what kind of pre-planning strategies could be applied to contemporary performance. Lighting designer Minna Heikkilä unravels the problem of staging a natural phenomenon and African nature, using her lighting design process for a musical as example. In my other text, I write about expanded authorship and expanded lighting design, opening the themes up further with examples. Lighting designer and curator Mia Kivinen has interviewed artists with a background in lighting design for her article, touching upon the reasons that have led designers into the field of light art. Lighting designer and scenographer Samuli Laine, again, discusses the fluid working roles in artistic collaborations, perceiving for himself an artistic identity that transcends the role of designer. Lighting designer Anna Rouhu shares her experiences of working in Singapore, in another cultural atmosphere. Lighting designer and scenographer Markku Uimonen considers the trinity of lighting design, scenography and directing, emphasizing the need for all parties to understand each other’s methods and tools.
The articles of visual artist Tülay Schakir and lighting designer and professor of lighting design Tomi Humalisto contribute to the third perspective On perception, transparency and technology, as both are inspired by the post-phenomenological thinking of American philosopher Don Ihde and the concept of transparency. Schakir emphasises light as a tool of sight and expression as well as the relation and impact of light on perception and meaning. Humalisto focuses on de-constructing Ihde’s main definitions of a technological relationships, placing them within lighting design with the help of examples.
This collection of writings does not cover all areas proposed in the call for texts, and that was never the purpose. What matters is opening and maintaining a discussion about the field of lighting design. There is still space for other writings to complement and continue the topics processed here.
Hopefully this publication will stir the reader’s curiosity, inspire to new publications, and play its part in bringing the discussion on the lighting design of today to the forefront. We are proud that we had a possibility to launch this book internationally at The Prague Quadrennial of Performance Design and Space 2019 (PQ19) in Prague, on the 7th of June in 2019. There seems to be raising intrerest towards writings that approach lighting design from the artistic, expressional and philosiphical point of view.
Thank you to all writers and contributors who made this publication possible! Long live light, lighting design, light art and university education in the field!
Prague 7 June 2019,
on behalf of the editorial board,
The writer is a scenographer–lighting designer (MA) and a hourly lecturer at the Theatre Academy of the University of the Arts Helsinki.
The book is published in the Publication serie of the Theatre Academy and the Book Launch was held at Prague Quadrennial of Performance Design and Space (PQ19) in Prague on June 7 at 10am–12pm 2019.
More info about the festival www.kokimo.fi & www.pq.cz.
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