An (all-time) Glow

Re-Examining Light & Noise Pollution
as an Aesthetically and Conceptually Charged Mediascape

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“An (all-time) Glow” is a research-creation project that examines the impact of human activities on the built environment, specifically focusing on light and noise pollution. By treating light and noise pollution as material, the project explores the aesthetic and conceptual dimensions of these phenomena, and invites the viewers to reconsider their relationship with the built environment.

Invisible entanglements
 aesthetic dimensions


During the semester, two key concepts that sustained my work were the idea of looking at light as a material, and the concept of the subnature.

The concept of subnature, as discussed in the book by David Gissen, involves the idea of embracing environmental forces such as dust, mud, gas, smoke, debris, weeds, and insects, rather than trying to filter them out (Gissen, 2012). In my project, I sought to explore the subnature of light pollution by using it as a medium to create art.

Materiality involves the idea of exploring the role of materials as agents within artistic processes (Lange-Berndt, 2015). In my project, I sought to explore the materiality of light by using it as a medium to create art that engages critically with its meaning and impact on the world around us. 

My research was particularly influenced by the work of artists like Anthony Mccall, Olafur Eliasson, and Thomas Wilfrid, who all use light in unique and innovative ways. For example, Mccall uses smoke to create three-dimensional light sculptures, while Eliasson uses lenses and other optical devices to manipulate light. Wilfrid, meanwhile, uses a range of materials, including colored gels, stained glass, and electric motors, to create his light art.

Similar to these works, I am interested in using light as a medium to give volume and form to pollution data. Through the materialization of light in space, I aim to create art that embraces the subnature of light pollution and its effects on the environment. By situating my work in the context of these other artists and their use of light, I hope to add to the broader conversation on the subnature of light pollution and its impact on the world around us.



I found this webinar on NASA’s “Black Marble” Night Lights Data as part of my initial research on light pollution data that provided a thorough introduction to the Black Marble dataset and the various light sources that it captures. It also compared the Black Marble data to other existing night lights products, and discussed technical aspects of data processing and quality assessment. 

One of the most interesting aspects of the webinar was the discussion around the various applications of the Black Marble data. For example, it can be used to monitor urbanization and electrification, as well as the impact of disasters on the electrical grid. This information is incredibly valuable for researchers studying the effects of light pollution on the environment. 

This was a valuable find, as it provided a ton of information on how to download Black Marble data via the Level-1 and Atmosphere Archive & Distribution System (LAADS) database.  


Out of frustration from not being able to get my hands on large amounts ofW NASA’s light pollution data easily without getting restricted from making way too many requests, I decided that the best way to gather data is by going out into the city and take amateur photographs of the night sky myself to learn more about the impact of artificial light on the environment, and how it affects our ability to see the stars. 

The stars were mostly obscured by light pollution, but I was able to capture a few long exposure shots where they appeared in the photographs. The outcome of this trip was not very successful as they were not very clear. 


I researched different artists who utilize light in their work, and started getting social media ads about a “Light As Material” workshop hosted by artistc. I attended the workhop, and it was a great way to learn about light as a material and medium for art. Jonathan shared his knowledge on the theoretical foundations of light projection, as well as practical skills like using different light sources, lenses, filters, and mirrors to create beautiful projections. After the presentation, we had the opportunity to experiment with different materials and techniques allowing me to explore the creative potential of light. 

One of the difficulties I faced with the idea of creating light art with these materials is the sustainability aspect. We used Mylar, which is not biodegradable or environmentally friendly. Despite this, overall the workshop was very insightful and provided valuable knowledge.


As part of my material exploration research, I decided to conduct several sound listening sessions to explore the concept of noise pollution in the city. I borrowed a field recorder and took out my headphones and headed to Griffintown, a busy urban area. It was a great way to get a sense of the scale of the problem. This prompted me to hit the record button and ended up creating my own dataset of noise pollution this way. I went on 4 different sound listening sessions, during different times of the day, and came back with audio recordings from each session. 

The recordings captured a range of noises, including traffic, construction, and sound of the birds in some places. Upon analyzing the recordings afterwards, I realized that traffic was the most prominent source of noise pollution, with cars and buses creating a constant background noise. Construction in Griffintown was also a great contributer, with sounds of hammering and construction trucks backing up.


In the development of my first prototype, I initially focused on exploring light pollution data in cities and its relationship to the human impact on the environment. I researched different light data satellites and algorithms that correct and fill gaps in the data, and used geospatial software to process this information. Through this process, I generated a map render of light pollution over a certain period of time. However, I soon realized that this map alone would not be sufficient to convey the sensorial effects of light pollution. As a result, I developed a prototype that used water as a medium to project the light pollution map. This prototype allowed me to consider the broader impacts of light pollution, such as its relationship to life and human activity.


Our group’s public event at 4th Space, titled “Scapes: Engaging with the Micro and Macro Entanglements of the Anthropocene,” was a success. We invited the public to explore the invisible material-sites of our everyday lives through a variety of sensorial experiences, revealing the remnants of human interaction with cities, plants, food, light, and data.