Light and Wellbeing
9th (and final!) ESRC Research Seminar by Configuring Light/Staging the Social
27 April 2017, 1.00-5.30, London School of Economics
The most pervasive, and popular, issues about light revolve around ‘wellbeing’, a term that covers a wide range of potential impacts of lighting on physical and mental health and quality of life: biological and psychosomatic mechanisms such as circadian rhythms, seasonal affective disorder, the role of light and dark in hormone production; excesses of light and light pollution in the form of a disappearing night and ubiquitous electronic screens; the relationship of new lighting technologies to control, surveillance and big data; issues of waste, sustainability and energy consumption as lighting’s complex role in ecological systems rapidly transforms.
These issues make headlines and increasingly enter into professional lighting practice: how can light and lighting designers be responsive and responsible in relation to the wider wellbeing of people? At the same time, wellbeing issues play a complex role in research and knowledge of lighting. These issues have been largely driven by biological and psychological research questions, methods and concepts, and seem to aim for scientific and technical questions and solutions. This prompts us - in Configuring Light’s final ESRC-funded research seminar on social studies of light – to ask about how the central issue of light and wellbeing can be addressed in the pervasive division between social, behavioural and technical disciplines.