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  • Nathalie Naranjo

Tropical light in architecture and everyday life.

WRITTEN BY NATHALIE NARANJO


Photography without light does not exist; likewise, architecture without a playful relationship with light does not produce the same sensations of pleasure, satisfaction and admiration of space. A phrase of the French architect Le Corbusier reinforces the above: "Architecture is the encounter of light with form". If we manage to capture that interesting and even mysterious play of light in the external or internal spaces of architectural elements or urban spaces, we produce postcards that record the work itself, but also capture the luminous quality of a particular geographical point, even the details that make them unique, iconic and mark them as landmarks within the city.


The tropic, that place located above and below the equatorial line, is where the light strikes in a more perpendicular and direct way throughout the year, this dynamic gives a particularity to it as a physical phenomenon as well as to the architecture that is produced under its influence.


While light allows us to appreciate the functionality of a well-designed and constructed space, it also allows us to appreciate the beauty of the materiality used in it, and tropical light often becomes a natural focus for such a task. No matter the scale or function of the architectural fact, the study of tropical light and its proper incorporation and use will work its magic to turn spaces into photographable pieces of art that will last through time.


There are architects who have understood this condition very well and their expertise has allowed them to create true kinetic paintings that vary not only throughout the day but throughout the year according to the position of the sun at a given time and the atmospheric conditions; one of them is the Venezuelan architect Carlos Raul Villanueva with one of his most representative works, the "Ciudad Universitaria de Caracas" (CUC), the main campus of the Central University of Venezuela.



The language used by the architect in the handling of forms, planes, the duality of light and shadow, the full and empty spaces that are produced had a clear intention on his part. The viewer's perception, professional photographer or not, also contains a language, an intention, a message that may or may not coincide with that of the designer.

In my case, as I have been photographing architecture for more than a decade and specifically the built work of/at CUC, there is a double intention, on the one hand, the documentary record of the architectural fact itself through time, and on the other the more playful and creative to find that daily flirtation of the luminous beam with the materiality, with the voids, with the natural elements, the works of art and even with the human being.

 

As a visual, perceptual, artistic and compositional exercise, I walk through the spaces looking for the cracks, the empty spaces through which the light streams, at any time of the day and at any time of the year. However, the quality of luminescence in the mornings and evenings, in the first and last weeks of the year is unparalleled, leaving either abstract works projected on canvases of floors, walls and plants, or images where the splendor of modernity is appreciated in terms of lines, planes and materials. In both cases, I use light to highlight the detail of the drawing projected by the elements or as a reflector to focus the eye on a job well done.

The message and the language used is to denote the beauty in the everyday of an immobile element that comes to life every day with the light and with the perception of it. There is no deception, no aesthetic manipulation, no alteration by editing, there is only the handling of contrast, light and shadow, the search for color and a lot of curiosity to find unique scenes.



In another order of ideas, and as an object of artistic representation, I also look for natural and tropical light to highlight the everyday, the colorful, the intimate and the warmth of domestic scenes.

The warm quality of the tropical light adds closeness, empathy, familiarity to daily scenes that often go unnoticed because they seem to be so repetitive, but that entail and evoke memories of the street, the building where early childhood was lived, the domestic and routine activities of affections as parents or grandparents: grandmother's religious image on an altar, a grandfather's card game in the garden, the childhood playground, mother's clothes hanging in the sun, take on a poetic dimension under the tropical light awakening memories and longings of times and affections that may no longer be there.

 

The light slips through the cracks and focuses on details that take on a particular dimension for each person, depending also on the color and materiality perceived: the shadow of the blinds or a lattice, the polychrome of the stained glass, the Komorebi: the light that slips through the trees in the park where he often goes.


Everything seen has a meaning that the light even helps to resignify but that undoubtedly has an emotional and personal charge. Not having marked seasons as in temperate zones, the tropical light allows to give saturation and luminosity to the existing colors throughout the day and the year. The light between golden hours, especially after midday, allows to mark scenes with an important expressive force, a strong light that dramatically marks shadows, but also gives vivacity to the colors, creating contrasts between them, with the materiality, with the forms: its lines and planes.



The tropics with its heat favors street photography scenes where color is the protagonist and shade can give anonymity to the subjects. This is an advantage to prevent the protagonists and their daily activities from being taken out of context or used for unethical purposes.

But in everyday life there is also architecture, urban space, road infrastructure, and the light that falls on them allows another look, less cold, allows even a romantic and close vision, but also hardness if it is the intention of the author.



To capture the benefits of tropical light on architecture, one must be attentive to the environment, not to see or look, but to observe, what the light points out, what power, where it directs the gaze.

To pass and pass again through the spaces at different times of the day and even of the year, recording or scanning every corner; the documentary record of the architectural work is a long-term project, because the light will play, in addition to all that has been pointed out before, with the passage of time on the materiality and the state of conservation of the architectural fact.

 

In everyday scenes, the reflex of capturing the image must be more acute, the instant is even shorter between seeing the scene, imagining the capture and taking the picture, the advantage with tropical light is its intensity that manages to keep the circumstance a little longer, freezes a little the "decisive instant" of the Cartier-Bresson.  

At this point it is important to include a reflection; those of us who do street photography have an enormous responsibility; in this era where the production of images is so fertile, technology is so accelerated and the digital footprint is exposed, we must avoid or minimize that the subject we capture is distorted or denigrated by unscrupulous hands, an arduous task ahead of us but not an impossible one.


Nathalie Naranjo

Caracas- Venezuela

INSTAGRAM: @1971css


 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Nathalie Naranjo

Nathalie Naranjo is an architect, and professor at Universidad Central de Venezuela. Caraqueña living in Venezuela.








 

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Πελάτης
06 Απρ
Βαθμολογήθηκε με 5 από 5 αστέρια.

Thanks you the incredible description and personal experience in photographing under the not-always-kind-light in the tropics. A big plus the dual opinion of an architect who also happens to be a photographer.

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Πελάτης
06 Απρ
Βαθμολογήθηκε με 5 από 5 αστέρια.

An interesting approach of what is behind photography under the portentous light in the tropics. Appreciated the sensible and meaningful way how the author explained her amazing work. Recommended

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Πελάτης
06 Απρ
Βαθμολογήθηκε με 5 από 5 αστέρια.

Beautiful subject of work that shows the importance of light on a daily basis, and with the addition of amazing photos that ilustrate and evoke the emotions present in the articule.

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Πελάτης
06 Απρ

I loved this article, shows beautifully the concept of the work of the author: the poetry of the light in the tropic. I really enjoyed it.

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