After an interesting start of the week in Copenhagen, I hurried back to Switzerland on Thursday afternoon to attend the opening of an exhibition and a following full-day symposium with many of the artists involved.
The exhibition in question is called “Lighten Up! On Biology and Time” and is at the intersection of Art and Chronobiology. It’s running at the EPFL Pavilions until the end of July.
The opening was in the Rolex Learning Center on the EPFL campus, and the auditorium was nicely full.
In his keynote address Till Roenneberg had everyone close their eyes – a risky strategy for an evening presentation, but one that seemed to pay off – and imagine a group of smaller reptiles, hoping to escape larger predators roaming the Earth during the day, becoming nocturnal and eventually warm-blooded. In due course mammals would find their way back to the day, but ultimately this evolutionary process had a profound effect on our biology. Super interesting stuff.
After these really interesting speeches, there were some snacks and drinks, and then the exhibition stayed open for people to visit until 9pm.
I went quickly around the exhibition, in the end, so just took some quick snaps.
I really liked the Circa Diem exhibit that was a collaboration between Marilyne Andersen’s LIPID Lab and Marc Pauly in the Computer Science department. Entering a small room you’re exposed to a number of ephemeral images taking shape on the walls as the “sun” moves through the daylight cycle, with accompanying sounds. It’s truly magical.
In her symposium talk from the closing round table – linked to below – Marilyne briefly describes the principle, which until then had been a complete mystery to me.
I found this video that goes into much more depth into implementing optimal transport via custom caustic lenses. Fascinating!
There were other exhibits that I liked a lot, such as this one with 3D printed clay representations of various individuals’ sleep patterns (symposium recording).
For those more interested in architecture, there was Colin Fournier’s Circadian Home (symposium recording).
There were a few more really interesting visualizations of sleep patterns. One was via a series of woven tapestries (in the symposium recording the artist, Susan Morris, described the artistic nature of taking a data feed out of context – a situation we always tried to avoid with Project Dasher).
Another was more digital, with some flower blooms representing the sleep patterns of three more people (symposium recording).
I’m planning on heading back to the exhibition at least one more time before it closes at the end of July – it’s really worth exploring more deeply. Here’s the exhibition guide, if you’re interested in taking a look.
After it closed for the day I stayed overnight near the campus and then headed to the Architecture building for Friday’s symposium.
I took lots of pictures during the symposium, but then realised it was more effective to show the livestream recording. Here’s one pic that shows the size of the space.
Here’s the full recording of the symposium. Unfortunately there seems to have been a technical issues with the sound for the start of the livestream – the first 32m45s are without sound, so I’ve gone ahead and skipped forward.
I’ve linked to a number of individual talks above, but here’s the complete list.
There were no sessions (literally none) that weren’t interesting, but for people more interested in architecture I’d recommend those by James Carpenter, Colin Fournier and Marilyne Andersen. (James Carpenter talked poetically about the light from the night sky being comprised of photons arriving from billions of years in the past, which I found interesting.)
For people more interested in the science of chronobiology, I’d recommend those by Christopher Cajochen, Anne Noble, Bharath Ananthasubramaniam, Elizabeth Klerman, Francesca Siclari and Till Roenneberg. (Bharath Ananthasubramaniam talked about the work his team has done to create a blood-test that can tell you your chronotype, and therefore your individual needs around light and sleep.)
And then the artists: Anna Ridler, Siegrun Appelt, Alan Bogana, Ted Hunt, Robin Meier Wiratunga, Rafael Gil Cordeiro, Kirell Benzi, Liliane Lijn and Helga Schmid. (Kirell Benzi looked at the intersection of art and scientific data visualization, something that resonated a lot with me.)
- Marilyne Andersen – Brightness Introduction
- Christopher Cajochen – Light and Clocks for Life on a rotating World
- Anna Ridler – New Digital Clocks: Mooring and Unmooring to the Natural Landscape through Art?
- Anne Noble – Bees and Art: in the Company of Scientists
- James Carpenter – Ecology of Light
- Siegrun Appelt – Slow Light
- Alan Bogana – Light-Oriented Ontologies – The Beginnings
- Ted Hunt – How we think about Time
- Bharath Ananthasubramaniam – Clocks meet Numbers
- Robin Meier Wiratunga – Synchrony or Synchronicity? Metronoms, musical and biological Time
- Elizabeth Klerman – Why should we Sleep in the Dark?
- Rafael Gil Cordeiro – Good Night Diamond, please stop shining: Darkness, the luxury Good of the Future
- Susan Morris – Sundial / Night Watch: the Entanglement of the Body in Clock and Calendrical Time
- Kirell Benzi – Revealing the Beauty of our inner Rhythms with data-driven Art
- Francesca Siclari – The Dreaming Brain
- Liliane Lijn – Sweet Solar Dreams: Between Light and Darkness
- It’s About Time – Round Table
Both light and sleep can have serious implications on human happiness, wellness and productivity, something I’m looking forward to understanding more about. This symposium was a great starting point for me, and I hope you find it as useful as I did.