Detective Note

Vol.010 – The Duality of Light and Shadow


Christof Fielstette
Lighting Designer

Light and shadow are fundamental elements of our world and have always inspired the imagination of humans. Light is the source of life, it allows us to perceive the world around us and gives us orientation. Shadows, on the other hand, are the absence of light, they are created when light is blocked by an object and can sometimes be unsettling or even frightening.

However, despite their contrasting nature, light and shadow also have a lot in common. They are both essential for balance in our world and offer us the opportunity to see things from different perspectives. Without light, there would be no shadows and without shadows, no light. They rely on each other and cannot exist without the other.

In nature, shadows provide a welcome change from bright, sun-drenched landscapes. They can be an oasis of coolness in the heat or a refuge from rain. They are an important part of the landscape and contribute to its diversity.

Shadows also have a symbolic meaning. They can be a metaphor for the dark sides of human nature or for insecurity and fear. At the same time, they can also serve as a place of rest and relaxation, a place to protect oneself from the scorching sun.

Another important aspect of shadows is the beauty they can radiate. In art, shadows are often used as a means to add depth and dimension to a picture. In architecture, shadows can play an important role by adding contrasts and emphasizing texture.

For instance in the architecture of Luis Barragan, both light and shadow play a crucial role. Barragan was a Mexican architect known for his use of light and color in his designs. He was a pioneer of modernist architecture in Mexico.

Barragan believed that light not only served a functional purpose, but also served as an artistic element in architecture. He used light deliberately to define space and shape, creating atmosphere. Through the use of windows, openings, and sculptural elements in his buildings, Barragan directed the light, creating unique, light-filled spaces.

Shadow was also an important component of Barragan’s architecture. He understood the power of contrast and used shadow to enhance the effects of light. By playing with light and shadow, Barragan created a dynamic interplay between the two, adding depth and dimension to his buildings.

Overall, light and shadow show us that opposites are often more closely connected than we might suspect at first glance. They offer us the opportunity to see the world from different perspectives and to enjoy its beauty. They are essential for balance in our world.

Christof Fielstette
Lighting Designer
Principal Designer of made by light – lichtplanung

Christof is providing lighting designs for international architecture and external works. As well he is working as a teacher at the HafenCity University, Hamburg.