From Candle Light to Contemporary Lighting Systems: How Lighting Technology Shapes Scenographic Practices, by Laura Gröndahl

October 26, 2016

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Abstract – In this article, I discuss the influence of stage lighting on the processes of scenic design and the functioning of performance space. There has been a huge advance in lighting technology with regard to their accessibility, usability, luminosity and costs during the past decades. Light can no longer be thought of as a necessity that can just be added to the performance. It has become one of its basic visual elements, directing and focusing the spectators gaze. The rhythm of changing lighting cues create a visual dramaturgy, which has turned visual design from solid constructrions to a score of temporal events. Today you seldom see a performance without any use of projections or digital videos. I begin with a quick historical survey on the adaptation of electric light in order to exemplify the artistic significance of technological innovations. I move on to a more philosophical conversation about the metaphorical connotations of light as a basic component of the visual mise-en-scène. Then I return to the practices of contemporary theatre making and examine the contributions of the latest projection technology. I suggest that stage lighting has developed from being a technical tool making the scenes visible into a sovereign artistic agency creating images on its own terms. Today’s intermedial scenography can be seen as a parallel to the contemporary experience of our spatio-visual environment in everyday life, echoing the changes that happen in our ways of perceiving and conceptualizing the world.

Type Journal Article
Author Laura Gröndahl
Volume 26
Issue 2
Pages 20-32
Publication Nordic Theatre Studies
ISSN 2002-3898
Date 2016