Lighting design created for the hiper-realistic exhibition ‘Gosh! Is it alive?’ at ARKEN Museum of Modern Art uses light as a medium to create stories, empathy and trigger emotions to its guests. It seeks to support and express the overall mood of the exhibition by exploring the relation between the real and unreal. 

The lighting design created for the exhibition is composed of two different lighting layers: artwork and, or aesthetical. The artwork layer focuses on creating a coherent visual experience throughout the exhibition and transforms the visitors perception of the artwork by using a variation of direction, distribution and positioning of light while still providing and respecting the light level requirements for each artwork. The aesthetical layer is used as the main component for telling the exhibition narrative and seeks to enhance the story of each room. By a single governing principle this layer creates a subtle light scenography for the artworks.
Work conceived for yoke
(artwork by the artists blurred due to copyright)
At the entrance of the exhibition the visitor is greeted by an infinity mirror reflecting their own mirror image. The lighting is focused to the vertical elements - walls - which allow the guest to read the intro, expanding the wall and making the space look longer. The only art piece in the room is placed in front of a mirror doubling the sculpture and thus complimenting the infinity mirror across the room.
photo: Anders Sune Berg
In the first room of the exhibition the light qualities present at home are brought to the space in order to create a familiar setting. Using Hammershøi as a source of inspiration two gobo projectors project daylight coming through a window frame into the floor which trie to enhance the feeling of being indoor while giving the sensation of information from something coming from the outside. The artwork layer is characterised by the use of narrow beam spotlights and a warm colour temperature of 2700K in order to resemble the light qualities present at home.
photo: Anders Sune Berg
In contrast, the light qualities in the next room takes the visitor outside and into the street by the use of high pressure sodium street lamps. Here the use of high pressure sodium street lamps, characterised by their very warm colour and wide distributions, intends emphasise the feeling of being in the street while trying to re-create the mood of a small town, a lonelily one, stopped in time. The fixtures itself are used to set the scene, provide the necessary light levels in the space while illuminating the artwork.  

At the end of the room the art-piece by Mel Ramos satirises about the use of the female body by the advertisement industry. The lighting emphasises this context by using billboard fixtures while giving the impression to the guests that they are on the outskirts of the town and therefore about to move to another setting.
photo: Anders Sune Berg
How can we re-create the vivid light of our dreams in the space? The aesthetic lighting layer attempts to reply to the previous question by using light to paint the walls - an empty canvas. Using several small focused light sources in combination with different bending of a translucent material allowed to create different “painting” layers which combined formed the dreamy light composition.

Having in mind that dreams are often associated to the act of sleeping and as the natural condition for sleeping is during night time when daylight is not present, the space is characterised by the high contrasts between light a dark. The use of very narrow distribution and neutral colour light source allowed to focus the light directly to the artworks leaving space for guest to dwell between lit and unlit areas.
photo: Anders Sune Berg
Here both the aesthetic and artwork layers take an active role on creating a Laboratorium mood in the room. The artwork layer is characterized by the use of spotlights with very cold light (5000K) and wide distributions which intend to resemble a cold clinic hospital room. The aesthetic layer, consisting of fluorescent tubes with a black colour diffuser and reflectors used for plant growing, intends to provide a mood of a experimental research lab where some of the creations went wrong.
photo: Anders Sune Berg
At the exhibition finale a rainbow of light creates a positive and cheerful exit. The light is created by filtering the light spectrum of the wall washer’s white light creating a colorful splash on the museum walls. The light is inspired by the centerpiece of the room: the futuristic transgender Juliana by Frank Benson. Also spotlights with warm color temperature enhance the shiny surface of the sculpture.
photo: Anders Sune Berg
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