Why do we love the mist?
Take the train from London to Paris early in the morning and you will find the flat fields passing you by dressed in mesmerizing morning mist. Lying low as they slowly wake up. You can see this effect in most of the northern part of this hemisphere when the conditions are right. It gradually clears up, but deep inside you don't want to lose sight of this phenomenon. You absorb more and more of this milky white light, thirsty, before the sun rises fully and dissolves it. Focusing your eyes deeper in the background, further and further away, until it slowly starts to clear up and reveal the mid-ground and then the background and even further than that. Like a sequence of curtains that are lifted in a slow pace, right in front of your eyes. You are the enchanted spectator. As expected the English vocabulary contains man words to express variations of this same phenomenon: fog, haze, smog, murk. But why do we love the mist so much?
Looking at Anthony Gormley's work 'Blind Light' in Hayward Gallery (2007) there is this quality of light and experience celebrated in the most amazing way that can ever be captured outside nature. Yourself and other spectators are enveloped in this mist, an uncertainty of what lies ahead encompasses you. Borders dissolve and materiality becomes uncertain. It somehow feels that some of his other works are about borders and silhouettes dissolving: Domain Field (2003). The artist mentions about this piece of work: You enter this interior space that is the equivalent of being on top of a mountain or at the bottom of the sea. It is very important for me that inside it you find the outside. Also you become the immersed figure in an endless ground, literally the subject of the work.
However other projects from the same artist seem to play with the notion of boundaries and blur. Human bodies and other 3D objects become almost dream-like figures or digital images of low-resolution.
Then, there is Blade Runner. The characteristic orange haze and rain were part of the unique aesthetics of the original film that has created a school of Science Fiction films. It was so strong and powerful that the sequel 'Blade Runner 2046' did not dare but embrace the same aesthetic. Wandering in fields of ruins we follow the hero in an unknown territory. Sitting at a distance behind him, he walks and we follow. We only see his silhouette and perhaps think that he can see more than we do, or that he is in the same situation of objects revealing themselves right in front of him at the last minute. And even when they do become apparent, none is entirely sure what they are.
And how does this relate to architectural lighting? Visual qualities such as depth, mystery, softness and allure are always appreciated in materials and we tend to unconsciously recreate our most favorite natural phenomena in the built environment too. Consider a humble backlit surface application or a 'light box' as it also frequently referred to. The more depth the effect of the panel suggests, the more successful we consider it to be. We call unsuccessful
ones as 'flat' 'uninteresting', 'fake'. This is why we always prefer to use glass instead or perspex, acrylic, or any other plastic composite. Even though it is heavier, costlier, fragile and generally difficult. Back illuminated Opal glass remains closer to this quality we try to capture. A misty landscape in the morning light.