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Sessions Dark Festival @ ARTIS

Meeting of Academic Workshop on Biobased Solutions and Urban Ecology

In a nice follow-up to the session on the effect of light, a new academic workshop took place on Friday, September 22. A collaboration between ARTIS, various departments of the City of Amsterdam and Dark Festival. In addition to research, we also highlight darkening actions. The session started with an explanation of the Dark Festival by Marjolijn van Heemstra, writer and theatre director, and ended with beautiful intentions and actions in a darkening Artis. The key topics were the importance of darkness for the health of humans and animals, the role of artificial light in the pollution of our environment, and the response of science, city authorities and artists to this. Below you can watch/listen to various recordings.

In her beautiful and illuminating presentation, Professor of Neuropsychology Dr. Joke Meijer at Leiden University took us through the origins of our biorhythms (3 billion years old) and our dependence on them. Elsemieke Koole, the Dark Manager of the City of Amsterdam, developed a step-by-step plan that is currently being rolled out. Collaboration plays an important role in this. Artist Titia Ex made us look at public space differently through light art. Light art may offer a method to transform people's fear of the absence of light into a more pleasant feeling and experience. Finally, the floor was given to Lara Jongejans, the project manager of Green Business Club. The organization motivates and activates companies in Zuidas to turn off office lighting when the buildings are not in use at night. The result is Zuidas that increasingly turns off the lights.

Nice solutions were already offered during the round of questions and discussions. One of them is using radar night glasses, so that the lights no longer have to be turned on. You can call that rethinking!
The need arose to create a kind of a mind map, with an overview of successful projects, current actions and dark places, linked to an opportunity map. Eventually it can be completed digitally so that the map becomes increasingly “darker” and people and organizations want to join in (an idea for students!?). There is also the question whether there is any research into how much light pollution actually costs, especially the entire light and electricity network with cables and pipes, and think of chronic diseases, stress, poor reproduction.

The academic workshop concluded in the Artis Planetarium, where Savitri Groag and Milo Grootjen interactively showed the guests what light pollution really means. In this way, the audience was introduced to absolute darkness and the enchanting starry sky when there was no light pollution.

More information


14.45 – 15.00    Registration at the entrance       Micropia, Blauwe Sterrenzaal

15.15                  Els Corporaal                                Welcome word and introduction

15.30                  Marjolijn van Heemstra               A'dam Dark festival – The importance of darkness

15.50                  Joke Meijer                                   Bioclock – the effect of light pollution on humans, animals and plants

16.15                  Joke Meijer                                    Ambitions of the City of Amsterdam regarding darkness

16.30                  Titia Ex                                            The art of light in Amsterdam

16.50                  Lara Jongejans                              Zuidas turns the lights off

17.10                  Break and moving to Planetarium

17.50                  Declaration of intentions of the City of Amsterdam and Artis

18.15                  Drinks

Image credits

Header image: Aron Visuals via Unsplash | Maan - Licht - Donker | Larger

Icon image: Aron Visuals via Unsplash | Maan - Licht - Donker

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