“You Say Light – I Think Shadow” – an expressive study about light, shadow and darkness in the form of a book

Did you ever wonder what light is?

Could it be electromagnetic radiation or swarms of photons or simply a God’s creation? Is light a particle, a wave or a ray? Is light visible? Perhaps it is a message from the Sun and an answer from the Moon?

Might light be the glow of a good old incandescent light bulb, the brilliance of a new high-tech light source or the gentle glow of fireflies? Is light a strike of knowledge, a sparkling great idea? Might it be a feeling of freedom, or being in love? Or could light simply be life itself?

You say Light, i think Shadow. Credits: Aleksandra Stratimirovic.

You say Light, i think Shadow. Credits: Aleksandra Stratimirovic.

Hmm … I could often wonder about light, and every time a different idea would emerge. This question is often on my mind and it makes me investigate the subject deeper, how do we process input of electromagnetic radiation and experience of visual stimulations?

I am always curious to learn what people think when you say light. Moreover, can light even have a clear definition? Through my on-going project My Light Future I learn about light and darkness by interviewing young children around the world. We usually talk about different things mostly related to everyday life. During our chatting, I usually weave in a question about light and darkness.

“Light is a circle where all friends are together”

“Darkness is when it is dark when the bills are not payed”

“Sun warms up the light”

“When you fear the shadow you fear yourself”

“Light is when you have a window, to let the light in”

Their reflections and answers are so inspiring. I particularly like the short, clear and obvious format of their answers that reveals so much of their life situation.

There is no doubt that light is important and essential to each one of us. Light is the source of our existence. Light is also an evidence of our existence. Moreover it is a powerful word that evokes emotions, triggers moods and brings up memories.

To approach this matter from another angle, a few years ago, I spoke about this with my friend, graphic designer Sandra Praun. Our thoughts boiled down to one simple but nonetheless complex question: What is Light? It was from our pure curiosity that the book project was eventually brought to light. We started by sending out this one question to specific people asking them to share their thoughts about light with us. Hundred and nine creators from the field of art, architecture, design, literature, film, theatre and science from all around the world responded by sending us their contributions. Our journey through this project was truly inspiring and exciting. The answers we received from all fantastic contributors opened new worlds to us with their hundred and nine points of view. They told us stories that we could not imagine. About beautiful lights, tender lights, bright lights, sounding lights, healthy lights, life hazardous lights, terrible lights, dangerous lights, sad lights, travelling lights, connecting lights, democratic lights, friendly lights, socially engaged lights, electric lights, inspiring lights… About absents of light. About beauty and power of darkness.  About the blackest black. About shadow, light’s delicate follower. They told us stories about birth and death and about flow of life. We entered many different situations, memories and moods. We realised how personal the question of “light” is.

The results of our investigation became a collection of surprising and beautiful contributions, poetic and personal thoughts, visions, stories, memories and statements.

Their contemplations generated a truly fantastic source of inspiration for Sandra and me as our intention was to make a book about light visualized just through choice of typography and paper, the use of cut-outs and various printing techniques but without any photographs or figurative images.

Expressing the essence of each contribution through an individual graphic approach, as well as assembling them into a book as a collection, which represents an ebb and flow between light and darkness, was both challenging and inspiring.

My curiosity continuous…

Yesterday morning light was a long desired ray of sunlight that finally peeked through the overcast Scandinavian winter sky promising spring’s arrival. In the afternoon I realized that light is the poetic movement of the car light’s radiance, caused by a traffic jam. Later that evening, during dinner time, the light was a cozy little candle flame on our kitchen table. And this morning I found the light captured deep in the eyes of my daughter. A few months ago I was sure that the true light only belongs to the stars, who generously share some of that radiant energy with us. Then I got fascinated by the amazing beauty of the colorful dancing lights of aurora borealis in the vicinity…

Tomorrow, I believe, I will find more inspiring sources to tell me what light can be.


109 perspectives collected and visualized by graphic designer Sandra Praun and artist Aleksandra Stratimirovic

Among the 109 contributors:

Alberto Alessi, Roy Andersson, Tadao Ando, Gustavo Avilés, Uta Barth, Christian Boltanski, Elettra Bordonaro, Ulrike Brandi, Mark Braun, Katja Bülow, Chris Burden, Dawid, Philip-Lorca diCorcia, Jan Ejhed, Federico Favero, Christof Fielstette, Form Us With Love, Monica Förster, Tamar Frank, Vellachi Ganesan, KC Grad, Sophie Guyot, Steven Holl, Vesa Honkonen, Takeshi Hosaka, Klaus Kada, Matti Klenell, Kram+Weisshaar, Mischa Kuball, Uno Lai, Light Collective, Åke E:son Lindman, Tuija Lindström, Lundahl & Seitl, Alessandro Lupi, Kaoru Mende, Bernard Murigneux, Jockum Nordström, Jean Nouvel, Eiji Okuda, Olsson & Linder, Ingegerd Råman, Rudy Ricciotti, Pipilotti Rist, Thomas Sandell, Snøhetta, Charles Stone, Carouschka Streijffert, Surrey NanoSystems, TAF, Elisabeth Toll, Ulay, Ignacio Valero, Paulina Villalobos


Aleksandra S by Elisabeth TollAleksandra Stratimirovic is a visual artist with special interest in light. She graduated in Fine Arts at the University of Arts in Belgrade and completed her studies in specialized lighting design at the University of Fine Arts and Crafts in Stockholm (Konstfack) and Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) in Stockholm. Aleksandra has completed a number of permanent site-specific artworks for various public places in Sweden and abroad, such as hospitals, schools, train stations, residential areas and numerous cultural events worldwide. She has received national and international awards for her work. She is guest lecturer and tutor at several cultural institutions and universities.

Aleksandra is the co-founder of the Lighting Guerrilla festival in Ljubljana, Slovenia, a core member of Transnational Lighting Detectives, and founder and artistic director of the Belgrade of Light festival in Serbia.  In recent years her artworks have been included in exhibitions at the Guggenheim Museum, New York, Konstnärshuset in Stockholm, Jardin du Palais Royal in Paris, and various institutions in Ljubljana, Belgrade, Tokyo, Osaka, Verona, Tallinn, and Singapore.

One thought on ““You Say Light – I Think Shadow” – an expressive study about light, shadow and darkness in the form of a book

  1. This looks like an amazing and wonderful book, with ideas that I believe would very much correspond with my own… I would like to read and review it, Aleksandra. I do think that £87 puts it beyond the reach of many however, but I understand why it probably has to be priced this way.

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