While the preoccupation with natural and artificial lighting in urban spaces dates back to antiquity, the use and application of artificial electric light in urban spaces can only be observed with electrification in the course of the 20th century.
Electric pleasure light makes Coney Island shine, electric light urbanizes even rural space to a certain degree, as Joris Ivens shows in “Power and the Land” (1940). At the same time, the dense construction of large cities produces “Housing Problems” (1935), the title of Elton & Anstay’s film, which include a chronic lack of light. The Lebensreform movement reacts to this with light and airy garden cities, and architects like Hans Scharoun develop light architecture with buildings like the Schminke House.
However, all electric lighting comes to an end when there is a power failure. How a large city reacts to this can be seen in Max H. Rehbein and Jens-Uwe Scheffler’s “Lefty” during the blackout in New York in 1978.
While today, on the one hand, nocturnal illuminations are shooting towards a spectacle maximum, as for example with the opening fireworks for Burj Khalifa in 2010, at the same time counter-movements can be recognized, such as the group Dark Sky, which is currently opposing light pollution. The cross-media Dark Sky-Kampagne developed by media design student Kevin May as part of his bachelor’s thesis at DHBW Ravensburg.