More than Darkness Preservation

The Importance of the Dark, Star-Filled Skies in Urban Areas

in Nature and Culture
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  • 1 Hong Kong Shue Yan University, Hong Kong ymlam@hksyu.edu
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Abstract

Enveloped in artificial light, many urban dwellers have never experienced real darkness. Seeing this as a loss, scholars and organizations have initiated discussions on light and darkness and advocated the preservation of the dark skies. This article aims to further this study by emphasizing the importance of the stars. Instead of studying lights, stars, and darkness ethnographically, the article examines the ideas of stars and darkness in Thierry Cohen's photographs and two of Vincent van Gogh's paintings. This article will suggest that the dark, star-filled skies represented in van Gogh's paintings provide a visual blueprint of what the article calls the “star-lit cities,” which goes beyond a simple preservation of darkness, and may be significant in driving vital changes in combating the current environmental crises.

Contributor Notes

Lam Yee-Man obtained her PhD from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Her research is centered on environmental ethics, language, and culture. She is currently working as an Assistant Professor in the Department of English Language and Literature, Hong Kong Shue Yan University. E-mail: ymlam@hksyu.edu

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