enjoys a high profile among environmental happenings, garnering support from more than one billion
green-minded individuals this year alone. But one smaller-scale initiative is gaining ground. Earth Hour
, a worldwide endeavor to simultaneously switch off the lights
, recently united millions in the fight against light pollution. The anti-light-pollution movement
continues to surge in support as artistic undertakings draw attention to the cause.
In the aftermath of new regulations permitting pharmacies in Madrid to install much brighter signs on their storefronts, guerilla art collective Luz Interruptus
staged an artistic protest against the resultant, unearthly green light permeating public and residential spaces throughout the city. Hierbas de Botica
, or Pharmacy Herbs, is an installation of fluorescent green nightsticks arranged to resemble outgrowths of “mutant weeds.” The installations were deliberately placed
in preexisting patches of neon green light set off by pharmacies’ traditional signage. The temporary work was suggestive of a radioactive garden, highlighting the collective’s conviction that the pervasiveness of unnatural light in urban society will have its consequences.
It’s not only humans who suffer from light pollution; another, quieter casualty is the firefly. Fireflies require full darkness to flash signals for mating and communication, and their populations have recently seen a steady decline
—congruent with the rise in urban light pollution. The Engine Institute
, a nonprofit that initiates collaborations between artists and scientists, recently received a Black Rock Arts Foundation Grant
for an artistic exploration of the effects of light pollution on firefly populations and, in turn, on New England’s fragile ecology. Geared toward students, the exhibit will feature interactive elements such as a real-time depiction of the effects of artificial light on firefly behavior.
The City Dark:
After premiering at the South by Southwest Film Festival in 2011, this documentary
about one filmmaker’s search for night in too-well-lit NYC made the festival rounds, and later showed at small, independent venues, university theatres, and science museums. This summer the New York Times Critics’ Pick
will win a wider audience, thanks to a designated slot
in the POV series on PBS
. A product of the Brooklyn-based, advocacy-focused production company Wicked Delicate
, The City Dark
explores the innumerable sociological, psychological, and physiological effects of living in a world without natural light, in which biologically driven circadian rhythms no longer dictate human behavior. (Where’s the dimmer?)