Accepted paper:

Atmospheric lighting


Mikkel Bille (Roskilde University)

Paper short abstract:

This paper explores the way lighting technologies are used to stage community, personal identities and well-being in a residential area of central Copenhagen, Denmark. It draws on Gernot Böhme's theories of atmosphere to show how the 'ecstasy' of things helps shape human-object relations.

Paper long abstract:

This paper explores the use of light to stage atmospheres in a residential area of Copenhagen, Denmark. Both natural and electrical lights enable visibility but they also impart a certain sense of place that influences the way people behave and feel. The paper investigates how light is about more than individual perception and plays a crucial role in orchestrating a sense of atmosphere. But if atmospheres are 'subjective facts' as philosopher Gernot Böhme calls them, how can they be shared? The paper shows how staging atmospheres relies on cultural premises and notions of intimacy, informality and relaxation, encompassed in the Danish term hygge, or cosiness. Light frames such atmospheres through creating a sense of secureness by allowing for visual oscillations between separation and connection of people and things. In this way, investigating the use of light in shaping atmosphere offers a lens to explore how people, emotions and things, shape homey atmospheres.

panel P03
Exploring 'atmospheres': an anthropological approach?