Tag Archives: TANIZAKI

Jung vs. Tanizaki

Light and dark possess powerful connotations for the figures of psychologist Carl Jung and novelist Jun’ichiro Tanizaki. Jung wrote that “the sole purpose of human existence is to kindle a light in the darkness of mere being;” Tanizaki that “were it not for shadows, there would be no beauty.” The views of these two may not conflict to such an extent as they first seem, however.

Tanizaki

“[W]e orientals [ ] tend to seek our satisfactions in whatever surroundings we happen to find ourselves, to content ourselves with things as they are; and so darkness causes us no discontent, we resign ourselves to it as inevitable. If light is scarce then light is scarce; we will immerse ourselves in the darkness and there discover its own particular beauty. But the progressive westerner is determined always to better his lot. From candle to oil lamp, oil lamp to gaslight, gaslight to electric light – his quest for a brighter light never ceases, he spares no pains to eradicate even the minutest shadow.”

– Jun’ichiro Tanizaki

Alila Diwa Resort, Goa (Photographer: Ali Rangoonwala)

Alila Diwa Resort, Goa (Photographer: Ali Rangoonwala)

With his seminal essay In Praise of Shadows (In’ei Raisan), Jun’ichiro Tanizaki pleaded on behalf of the virtues of natural, soft light as opposed to the bright, all-illuminating electrical lighting that he associated with a western capitalist aesthetic. Light is not, to Tanizaki, simply bright or dim. It contains also aspects of gleam or glitter, various kinds of illumination of which we ought to be mindful. Even when light can be said to be defective, as a patina on silver or a knot in an otherwise straight grain of a piece of wood is “defective,” the appreciation of that defect becomes of greater importance than its rectification or obscuration. This view relates closely to another distinctly Japanese aesthetic: “wabi-sabi,” an emanation of Buddhist philosophy that values impermanence and asymmetry as aspects of “the inherent beauty of imperfection.”

Jung

“Everyone carries a shadow and the less it is embodied in the individual’s conscious life, the blacker and denser it is. In spite of its function as a reservoir for human darkness—or perhaps because of this—the shadow is the seat of creativity.”
– Carl Jung

Blue Frog Mumbai (Photographer: Fram Petit)

Blue Frog Mumbai (Photographer: Fram Petit)

In Jungian psychology, the shadow or “shadow aspect” is a part of the unconscious mind consisting of repressed weaknesses, shortcomings, and instincts. Jung may have been hastily interpreted, however, if he is taken as abhorring darkness. Jung in fact implied that light begets dark—the two are inseparable and interdependent. “Filling the conscious mind with ideal conceptions is a characteristic of western theosophy, but not the confrontation with the shadow and the world of darkness. One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light,” he argued in The Philosophical Tree, “but by making the darkness conscious.” The suggestion herein is that symbolic “light” is of value; however, it cannot be engendered without darkness, and sometimes darkness can be even more revealing than light.

Darkness & Light in Design

These aesthetic principles proclaiming the equal importance of the dark and the light are readily applicable to architecture, as two AWA projects exemplify. In the BlueFROG Club, the focus is on music and sound, and the shadowy environment accentuates it—while also creating a cool, mysterious ambiance to suit the space’s intended audience.

In the Alila Diwa Resort in Goa, India, shadow dramatizes a romantic, exclusive atmosphere. Vernacular architecture incorporated into the resort is lent an aura of mysticism by the dark, as in the upper reaches of a high ceiling or in the regular bays along a colonnade. Often, less really is more, as darkness adds to the poetry and soul of a project.

Blue Frog Mumbai (Photographer: Fram Petit)

Blue Frog Mumbai (Photographer: Fram Petit)

In the Alila Diwa Resort in Goa, India, shadow dramatizes a romantic, exclusive atmosphere. Vernacular architecture incorporated into the resort is lent an aura of mysticism by the dark, as in the upper reaches of a high ceiling or in the regular bays along a colonnade. Often, less really is more, as darkness adds to the poetry and soul of a project.

Alila Diwa Resort Goa (Photographer: Ali Rangoonwala)

Alila Diwa Resort Goa (Photographer: Ali Rangoonwala)

Lighting Zeitgeist- Culture, Light Levels and Economics- Part 3 of many

Over time, we have often seen a shift in requirements within a culture or people. In the United States in the 50’s and 60’s, the popular adage was “more light, better sight.” When the OPEC energy crisis occurred in 1973, it required a serious re-examination of light levels and prompted many research excursions to show that we could work as efficiently in much less light.In the last 50 years, as other areas of the world have found prosperity and technology has become more affordable, traditional constructs of light and darkness have been replaced by grossly overlit spaces. The flip in perceptions is best highlighted by the following two quotes taken from two authors from two different parts of the world, quoting 75 years apart in time.

 The eastern world of early 20th century :
• “We Orientals tend to seek our satisfactions in whatever surroundings we happen to find ourselves, to content ourselves with things as they are; and so darkness causes us no discontent, we resign ourselves to it as inevitable.
• But the westerner is determined always to better his lot…..from candle to oil lamp, oil lamp to gaslight, gaslight to electric light – his quest for a brighter light never ceases, he spares no pains to eradicate even the minutest shadow” – Jun’ichiro Tanizaki, in praise of shadows, Japan [1933]  1950s America :
• The popular adage “more light, better sight” dominated our approach to lighting
• Light levels: +1000 lux
 Post-1973 opec crisis:
• Re-examination of required light levels
• Work more efficiently with less light
• Light levels: reduced to 500 lux
 Today:
• “Some judicious use of shadow would help humanize our over-lit lives.”
• Darkness: basking in the dimming of the light
• Murray Whyte, Toronto Star, Canada (2008)
• Light levels: further reduced to 300 lux

Reflexively, as the ‘green’ movement gains momentum, it inspires the search for more efficient lighting solutions, which in turn leads to the development of halogen lamps, and eventually, light emitting diodes (LED’s). The emergence of the tiny, long-lasting, inexpensive LED’s is anticipated to dramatically change the lighting situations in many developing nations where, previously, people relied more on natural light and on planning activities during times when it was available. In the last 50 years, as other areas of the world have found prosperity and technology has become more affordable, traditional constructs of light and darkness have been replaced by grossly over lit spaces. The critique here is clear, that just because technology is affordable and easy to install it doesn’t mean that it should be implemented carte blanche. All technology is susceptible to environmental concerns, and although LED’s do provide superior lighting efficiency in energy of use sense, the current rate of production to fill the gaps aforementioned cannot be sustained in the long term to meet that demand. The reality of the industry is that we have an uncertain supply of both energy and materials which should be addressed not through techno-solving, but rather through simple ethical implementation into the design process, which starts with the simple question “do we really need this?”

The tide of the ‘green’ movements influence in expanding the implementation of ethically sustainable practices into design can be seen through several different certifications and policy initiatives undertaken in recent years. The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification formed by the U.S. Green Building Council is the world’s leading certification in sustainable design for architecture in the United States. Developed by the 20,000 or so members of the council, the certification is won by adhering voluntarily to the standards developed by the council for that specific year. The standards evolve and are voted on by the council every year, with the certification goals becoming ever more progressive.

The same progression can be seen through the evolution of the United States congress bill, the 1992 Energy Policy Act (Epact), in which states had to review and consider adopting national model energy standards. In 2007 the Department of Energy updated the policy to improve energy conservation by 3.7%, followed by an update in 2010 to bring the total to 18.2%. The policy debate surrounding sustainability has a large influence on the discussion about light and how we use it. Though we do see change through initiatives like the LEED certification and the Epact, the zeitgeist still turns toward techno-solving as our chosen methodology for escaping our sins. Technologies such as wind power, hydro-power and nuclear power all contribute to the discussion about how we can make our energy production renewable, however the conversation surround how much we should need and how much we are really using is still too quiet.

1950’s OFFICE LIGHTING- MORE LIGHT BETTER SIGHT, 1973 GAS RATIONING IN THE US

ottowa City Counsel

US Gas Rationing 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

OUT OF DARKNESS!

“It is necessary to return to the point where the interplay of light and dark Reveals forms, and in this way to bring richness back into architectural space. Yet, the richness and depth of darkness has disappeared from our consciousness, and the subtle nuances that light and darkness engender, their spatial resonance – these are almost forgotten. Today, when all is cast in homogeneous light, I am committed to pursuing the interrelationship of light and darkness. Light, whose beauty within darkness is as of jewels that one might cup in one’s hands; light that, hollowing out darkness and piercing our bodies, blows life into ‘place’.”
– Tadao Ando (1990)

What is darkness, and what is shadow? Darkness is the absence of light, while shadow is the comparative darkness that results from the blocking of light.

As Lighting Designers, several of us use light like our jobs depended on it- literally. I firmly believe that overusing light, often to validate our professional existence, is a professional mistake.

Light depends on darkness and shadow to come to life, and create a harmonious lit visual environment.

 

out of the shadows