Maestro Mario Nanni, artist of light and founder of Viabizzuno, legendary architectural lighting firm. He presented his eight rules of light in 2010 in Milan. They are only eight but they are eternal. We have been since keen on finding them in English, but in vain. Here is our endeavour to interpret them.
Rule 1. Absence of Presence
Presence of light, yet absence of a vehicle of light. Magic of emotion and no evidence of a source of light. Transcendence of an object as its surface is washed with the light from a hidden spring.
Rule 2. Light where needed
Chemistry of light: we see in an environment with little light, with almost no light. Just right amount of light allows us to catch expressions, sensations and attention. Light and the only light. Where needed.
Rule 3. The thickness of light
To have thickness is to have volume, to have volume is to create a shadow. The shadow brings out the light, the latter generates volume and defines the space. This light discovers and reads architecture. Light and materia accompany each other.
Rule 4. Light is a construction material
A project is not only a material, it is also a light. Architecture is a projection of light. Too often light is a corrective measure to hide or improve something that has already taken a shape. The light that is invisible yet sensible becomes a material, hence it is necessary to build with light.
Rule 5. Praise the shadow
The dimmer the light, the more powerful it is. Architectural form is born on the border between light and darkness. Positive and negative, the shade empties the light and fills it in. There is no need to use a lot of light to emphasise the object — the shadow will do it.
Rule 6. Moving light
Light follows the rhythm of the Sun, bringing up accents of architecture, its symbols and narrative of the city and its protagonists. The story unfolds. Like in case with Teatro alla Scala in Milan, Variable Image Lamp — VIL — projects blocks of light transforming the surface it hits, changing the boundaries and the depth of the façade itself.
Rule 7. The light creates colour
No object retains constant colour during the day. Darkness washes colours away, because colour is the light. Light gives all its tones, and therefore it is a necessary tool in a lighting designer’s box.
Rule 8. Emotion undescribed
The undescribed emotion of nothing is a powerful feeling, a pleasant sensation experienced in the moment when light wraps the space all around without manifesting itself. The meaning of things is evoked and subtle magic is done. No special effects are needed to light up the sculpture of Sleeping Hermaphroditus. Voluptuous forms need no accent; instead the light must follow a spectator’s glance.
Original text can be found on SpazioFMGperl’architettura. None of us speaks Italian, but we speak the language of light, so in part this translation of Mario Nanni’s Rules could be considered free. Should any of our readers find a proper English version, we would be happy to post on Light Intelligence.
Photo of Borghese’ Sleeping Hermaphroditus credit: Marie-Lan Nguen