A City of Contrast:
Subjective Realities in the Urban Nightscape
The spectrum of a city’s nightscape is defined and experienced through boundaries of light and dark: a myriad of shadows cast by architecture, the urban environment, and the night-dwelling participants within. In searching out the optical and metaphorical effects of varying contrasts within an urban nighttime setting, several realities emerge from the layered depths of light and shadow resonant with what society chooses to reveal and attempts to hide.
With focus on the unraveling stories of three witnesses to a murder committed within the darkness, the thesis’ fiction narrative traces a path through downtown Toledo’s nightscape, relying on the dichotomy of light and shadow in search of a shrouded truth. A photographic site map filed as evidence sets the tone for shadow as concealment, darkness as erasure, and void as obscurity, all experienced through spaces that simultaneously exist in the shadow of society’s collective mind: alleyways, vacant homes, overlooked neighborhoods, underpasses, abandoned industry, even forgotten dreams. In contrast, the same sites portray artificial light as perceived safety, reflective light as self-advertisement, and the night sky as the final hope for sight: the streetlight, the glowing cross of a religious institution, moonlight filtering down from a dark sky above.
The witness accounts, photographic evidence, courtroom sketches, and stenographer reports converge to confront both a material and metaphorical city of darkness, one where a network of alleys and abandonment shed light on the truth behind the murder, and its relation to a larger web of history’s forgotten crimes. The judgement of the crime paves the way for architectural setting and intervention to challenge dimensions of light and fields of dark. Is the truth as straightforward as it seems?
Faculty Advisor: Keith Mitnick and Mireille Roddier, Vantage Points