Above: Queen's Chandelier by Puff-Buff
Called In Praise of Shadows, the exhibition is curated by Jane Withers in response to the recent EU directive to phase out low-efficiency light bulbs.
Above: Light Blub by Pieke Bergmans.
The lighting is installed in a gallery housing artifacts from seventeenth- to nineteenth-century Europe, previously closed to the public for refurbishment.
Above and top: Sonumbra by Rachel Wingfield and Mathias Gmachl of Loop.pH. Photos are by Susan Smart Photography
Visitors navigate the darkened galleries using dynamo torches.
Above: Sonumbra by Rachel Wingfield and Mathias Gmachl of Loop.pH. Photo by Susan Smart Photography
The exhibition has been extended until 18 October.
Above: CEZ Light by Olgoj Chorchoj.
See all our stories about London Design Festival 2009 in our special category.
Above: Lucid Dream by Eric Klarenbeek
Photos are by Paola Pieroni unless stated otherwise.
Here's some information from Jane Withers:
IN PRAISE OF SHADOWS
AN EXHIBITION ON NEW EUROPEAN LIGHTING
CURATED BY JANE WITHERS
LONDON DESIGN FESTIVAL AT THE V&A
Don’t miss In Praise of Shadows, a temporary intervention for the London Design Festival at the V&A, on display until Sunday 27th September. In Praise of Shadows showcases works by 21 European designers who imaginatively explore not only the potential of low energy lighting and alternative energy sources but also the way we think about light and darkness.
Above: Medusa by Mikko Paakkanen. Photo by Susan Smart Photography
The exhibition takes place camping in the Jones Galleries (Europe 1600-1800) closed for refurbishment. Visitors go behind a hoarding and are given dynamo torches to navigate the darkened galleries where the new lights are mysterious interlopers contrasting eerily with ornate works still on display.
The catalyst for ‘In Praise of Shadows’ is the EU directive to phase out low-efficiency light bulbs (from September 2009 through to 2012). It is rare that a design issue affects us all as directly as the switch to low energy lighting and as well as stimulating experimental design the changeover is provoking controversy and confusion around environmental issues. And yet this should be an opportunity to do more than just change a light bulb, it’s a chance to explore new thinking about lighting and sustainability.
Above: Medusa by Mikko Paakkanen. Photo by Susan Smart Photography
In Praise of Shadows aims to add spark to the debate by raising questions not only about how we use energy for lighting but also how we illuminate our lives – challenging the modern obsession with ‘brighter is better’ that has held sway for the last century.
The exhibition includes works that play on poetics of light, for example Fragile Futures by Drift. A magical hybrid of nature and technology, the electric circuit seems to grow organically over a wall sprouting dandelion seed heads along the way. It also includes works that demonstrate the freedom that low energy light sources can bring to lighting design: for example Queen’s Chandelier by Polish designers Puff Buff, an extremely lightweight chandelier where each LED is enclosed in an inflatable pocket.
Above: Fragile Future by Drift. Photo by Susan Smart Photography
It explores alternative energy sources such as light and wind – for example Demakersvan’s Light Wind and Sonumbra by Loop.ph. Developed to bring lighting to areas off the national grid, Sonumbra is a giant parasol embedded with solar cells and electroluminescent wires: by day it serves as a sunshade and by night it gives off the light it absorbs.
Finally, the exhibition addresses issues around energy usage and light pollution through the work of French eco-activists Clan du Néon who protest against waste by turning off illuminated signs and posting films of their actions on the internet. One film shows three figures in fluorescent wigs running down rue de Rivoli turning off famous fashion shop signs using external switches intended for emergency use. It’s both funny and deeply important: why do we sanction bright lights of advertising pouring energy into our over illuminated skies? As much as low-energy technologies it is thinking like this about how we use energy and what is acceptable that can help change habits and point the way to a sustainable future.
The exhibition is organised by EUNIC London (European Union National Institutes for Culture) – with the support of the European Commission Representation in the UK.
Victoria and Albert Museum
T: +44 (0) 20 7942 2000
10.00 to 17.45 daily
10.00 to 22.00 Fridays
Michael Anastassiades (Cyprus)
Marie-Virginie Berbet (France)
Pieke Bergmans (Netherlands)
Balint Bolygo (Hungary)
Olgoj Chorchoj (Czech Republic)
Clan Du Néon (France)
Paul Cocksedge (UK)
Radu Comsa (Romania)
Tom Dixon (UK)
Drift [Lonneke Gordijn / Ralph Nauta] (Netherlands)
Tom Foulsham (UK)
Eric Klarenbeek (Netherlands)
Loop.ph [Rachel Wingfield / Mathias Gmachl] (UK / Austria)
Mario Nanni (Italy)
Damian O'Sullivan (Netherlands)
Puff Buff (Poland)
Vytautas Puzeras (Lithuania)
Mikko Paakkanen (Finland)
Studioilse / Wastberg (UK / Sweden)
LIGHT BLUB, 2008
PIEKE BERGMANS (NETHERLANDS)
Light Blub is a giant light bulb that appears to be morphing into new forms, perhaps playfully symbolizing the end of the bulb as we know it.
MATERIALS: GLASS, METAL LAMP BASE, TABLE
LIGHT SOURCE: 24 LEDS
GOLD F LIGHT, 2009
MICHAEL ANASTASSIADES (CYPRUS)
A standard low-energy fluorescent lamp is transformed into an object of refinement and beauty.
MATERIALS: GOLD-PLATED STAINLESS STEEL
LIGHT SOURCE: COMPACT FLUORESCENT LAMP
LUCID DREAM, 2006
ERIC KLARENBEEK (NETHERLANDS)
Inspired by the magic of the soap bubble, Lucid Dream plays on the ability of glass to transmit light by internal reflection. Thus the light source disappears and the light from the LEDs is spread through the entire surface of the bubble.
MATERIALS: HAND-BLOWN CRYSTAL GLASS
LIGHT SOURCE: 6 LEDS
CEZ LIGHT, 2009
OLGOJ CHORCHOJ (CZECH REPUBLIC)
The CEZ light is a portable battery lamp charged by a photovoltaic panel. Exposing the panel for four hours to sunlight should generate enough energy to provide four hours of illumination.
MATERIALS: HEAT-RESISTANT BOROSILICATE GLASS, SOLAR PANEL
LIGHT SOURCE: 3 LEDS
Queen's Chandelier by Puff-Buff
QUEEN’S CHANDELIER, 2008
PUFF-BUFF DESIGN (POLAND)
Challenging the traditional idea of a chandelier as a stately and weighty appendage, Queen’s Chandelier is made of inflatable PVC pockets that each contain an LED. Despite its size, it is extremely lightweight.
MATERIALS: HIGH-GLOSS PVC, PLASTIC, STAINLESS STEEL
LIGHT SOURCE: 145 LEDS
LOOP.PH (RACHEL WINGFIELD / MATHIAS GMACHL) (UK/AUSTRIA)
Developed as part of the World Bank project Lighting Africa, Sonumbra is a proposal for low-cost, low-maintenance lighting for regions without access to the electricity grid. An outsize parasol, by day it provides shelter from the sun. By night it lights up, using the energy collected in solar cells embedded in its canopy.
MATERIALS: ELECTRONICS, SOFTWARE, COMPOSITE ROD SUPPORT STRUCTURE
LIGHT SOURCE: SOLAR-POWERED ELECTROLUMINESCENT WIRE