A night which looks like a bright day

While in Paris i checked out Airs de Paris, an exhibition that runs until August 15 at the Centre Pompidou. The show is really good. Looks a bit like one you could see at the Palais de Tokyo. Except that you are not allowed to take pictures, people don’t seem to have as much fun, the gadget shop is bigger and less tempting. But that’s just trifle and i’ll come back to the exhibition soon.

I headed there after having read on variable environment that Philippe Rahm had installed a room called Diurnisme.


The introduction of the street lighting in the beginning of the 19th century has wipped out the day/night rythm from the city. With street lighting emerged new behaviors, such as noctambulism, sauntering the evening on the boulevards, dancing in the balls.

Rahm put the idea upside down by trying to introduce the night during the day. It’s a perverted answer to the perpetual day created by the modernity, Internet and the contemporary globalization. The room is bathed in a very bright orange/yellow light which wavelengths, upper than 600 nanometers, are perceived by the body as the night. The paradox is caused by the fact that our perception of day and night is guided by a hormone called melatonin. The peculiar light of the room triggers the production of melatonin, fooling the body into thinking that it is nighttime.

Verdict: it does work. I felt a bit sleepy in there and some people were having a nap on the benches. The music might help too, as speakers were broadcasting 18 Diurnes, some inversions of a composition written by John Field, known for being the first composer to write nocturnes.

Arte has some interviews in french of Philippe Rahm.

Photo: © photo Adam Rzepka, Centre Pompidou.

Related entries: Responsive Environments: Architecture, Art and Design; Christophe Guignard’s talk at LIFT07.