Amplifier for Art, Science and Society

Photos: Julien Gremaud

Photos: Julien Gremaud

Circa Diem

Marilyne Andersen et al.

Our daily exposure to light as well as its dynamics over time are crucial elements of a healthy and sustainable life in dense urban environments. Light received at the eye regulates our neurophysiology and profoundly affects the liveability of cities, which we tend to inhabit increasingly indoors and deeper underground.

CIRCA DIEM – ‘about a day’ in Latin – raises awareness of the threat of this disconnection. Inadequate light exposure affects our circadian rhythms and can have detrimental effects on our health, well-being and sleep. Architecture and the urban fabric control our access to daylight by filtering and redirecting light through spatial forms.

Entering a monumental cylindrical space that suggests being deep in an urban canyon, the visitor is immersed into the passage of time through four phases of the 24-hour day – morning, midday, evening and night. This sensorial experience involves a dynamic choreography of light and dark, colour and sound, and images generated by a novel light-shaping technology that precisely controls high-contrast patterns evoked by the built environment. Experienced together, they allude to the multiple manifestations of the circadian cycle under which we all live.

Marilyne Andersen joined forces with her colleague Mark Pauly at EPFL and Javier Fernández-Contreras from HEAD – Genève to turn the outcomes of her ongoing research on photobiology into an immersive experience of ‘a day in the life’ – or rather, a day in the light. Together, they co-supervised the work of a collective of students, designers, engineers and scientists to produce an immersive installation that invites us to reflect on the relationships between urban lifestyles and light hygiene.