LIGHTEN UP! On Biology and Time
March 24 to July 30, 2023
EPFL Pavilions, Lausanne

Through the lens of art, the exhibition Lighten Up! On Biology and Time at EPFL Pavilions explores the connection of living organisms with the natural cycle of light and dark. From fungi to ferns, from hamsters to humans, all have evolved circadian rhythms that connect them to the alternation of day and night. In our screen-based society, there is an increasing urgency to raise awareness of reconnecting to the outdoor environment. Nineteen installations transform our daily, lunar, and seasonal rhythms into light- and soundscapes, immersive spaces, or virtual experiences to remind us of the necessity of regular light exposure for a healthy life.

CIRCA DIEM is part of the exhibition Lighten Up! First presented at the 2021 Seoul Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism, the project explores our daily exposure to light as well as its dynamics over time as crucial elements of a healthy and sustainable life in dense urban environments. Light received at the eye regulates our neurophysiology and profoundly affects the liveability of cities, which we tend to inhabit increasingly indoors and deeper underground.

CIRCA DIEM – ‘about a day’ in Latin – raises awareness of the threat of this disconnection. Inadequate light exposure affects our circadian rhythms and can have detrimental effects on our health, well-being, and sleep. Architecture and the urban fabric control our access to daylight by filtering and redirecting light through spatial forms.

Entering a monumental cylindrical space that suggests being deep in an urban canyon, visitors are immersed in the passage of time through four phases of the 24-hour day – morning, midday, evening, and night. This sensorial experience involves a dynamic installation of light and dark, color and sound, and a novel light-shaping lens technology that precisely controls high-contrast patterns evoked by the built environment to project photorealistic images. Experienced together, they allude to the multiple manifestations of the circadian cycle under which we all live.

Marilyne Andersen joined forces with her colleague Mark Pauly at EPFL and Javier Fernández Contreras from HEAD — Genève to turn the outcomes of her ongoing research on photobiology into an immersive experience of ‘a day in the life’ – or rather, a day in the light. Together, they co-supervised the work of a collective of students, designers, engineers, and scientists to produce an immersive installation that invites us to reflect on the relationships between urban lifestyles and light hygiene.

Immersive Installation: 400 x 400 x 575 cm, 7:15 minutes.
Concept and Production Management: EPFL x HEAD – Genève.
Marilyne Andersen, Mark Pauly, Florin Isvoranu (EPFL), Javier Fernández Contreras (HEAD — Genève)
Production: Alice Proux, Valentin Dubois, Alain Van Garderen (HEAD — Genève)
Engineering and Construction: SKIL platform, Claude-Alain Jacot, GCM and LIPID labs (EPFL)
Lens Imagery: GCM and LIPID labs, PLTE platform (EPFL), Rayform SA
Electronics and Lighting: PL-MTI and SKIL platforms, Florin Isvoranu (EPFL)
Entrance light animation: Aurélien Mabilat, Marilyne Andersen (EPFL)
Soundscape: Marie Limoujoux
Photography: Julien Gremaud

Full project credits can be found on: