This ongoing project is supported by humanities-centered, collaborative, and sustainability-focused funding awarded to photograph sky glow, light trespass, and light pollution— as cause and effect. It is a public service and exhibit currently split between two gallery spaces in Kalamazoo: Diekema Hamann (Dec.- Jan. 2017) and Western Michigan University’s Office for Sustainability Gallery (Dec 2017-January 2018). Each exhibit contains a variety of imagery that captures a fuller breadth of the project in its current state. Look for more images soon from Las Vegas (the brightest place on earth at night), Peru, and elsewhere. While part of the awarded funding supports photography projects, it also supports the development of a “Best Practices in Photography” resource guide for future consumers, producers, and distributors.
Artificial light is a form of artificial intelligence. Edison invented the first robot — a lightbulb (that is electrically programmable to accommodate the needs of its consumers). These photographs study trajectories to evolve with artificial and natural light— as benefit and consequence. These two kinds of light repair and impair biodiversity.
When the night looks like day, we have a problem. It’s not natural. There is a dark side to light. Artificial light unplugs the circadian clock from its evolutionary outlet. Natural light is the stopwatch of culture. Planetary well-being is rapidly changing due to the presence of artificial light. I am photographing sites that meet the ratings of the Bortle Dark-Sky scale as dangerously or recklessly over lit tropospheric nighttime space. Light affirms life, but it has the potential to alter or end it. As a photographer, I was educated to see light as an ally. I still do, but only in the context of its appropriate and precautionary applications. I now see light as a frenemy. At night, one needs to look no further than the cities we inhabit for pedestrian evidence of unnaturally lit space. We should wake up to natural light as a sovereign right because we are not yet waking up to its artificial use as a risk factor threatening biodiversity, health, public policy, and sustainable longevity.
Quality of light affects quality of life. These photographs convey why civilization is losing a vital connection to both.