In the shadow of the brightest high-rises in Germany, I enter a deep black corridor. The black walls surround me bit by bit. After a few steps, I can no longer see the city to my left and right. Only the bright floor and the bright night sky give me stability and orientation. The space around me seems to have ‘disappeared’, corners and edges are not visible. All that remains for me is the space of the sky and the certainty of standing with both feet on the ground of the city. The darkness has enveloped me. I am completely immersed in a black sea – only the bright night sky above me. It is dark and bright at the same time.

The Night is one of the important subjects of romanticism. Novalis, Brentano, Eichendorff, Caspar David Friedrich – the creators of Romanticism have attributed a very special position to the night. In their works, she was a symbol of darkness, mystery, and secrecy. The night was also regarded as the source of love and the sensory impressions merged in it.

Dense urban living space, dramatic illuminations of buildings, street lighting, industry – all these factors make it increasingly difficult to experience ‘Night’ as such, as it becomes brighter and brighter. To perceive the night sky, as it was the inspiration for Romantic artists, the remotest corners of Germany must be visited. On the other hand, the illuminated night is also a symbol of modern romanticism – who has never gazed at an illuminated skyline at night in wonder?

“Touching Night Skies” created a space at a specific location (>> 50°06’44 “N 8°40’36 “E) where the focus was directed to the night sky. With its impressively illuminated buildings, Frankfurt’s skyline is one of the brightest night skies in Germany. What does darkness mean to me in this city? What is left of the firmament? Where are the stars? What does the bright night do to me?

“Touching Night Skies” was a temporary structure that was set up as a temporary installation for the light art festival Luminale 2020 on the Rossmarkt in Frankfurt am Main. The inner construction consisted of standardized Layher components. Two angled wall elements have been placed in a way that their interlocked arrangement created a small courtyard, from which the surrounding buildings have no longer been visible – the visitor just felt their presence. All walls of the construction have been covered with timber panels and painted with special black paint. The deep black robbed all surfaces of their material properties. The room’s corners have no longer been perceptible. Thus, an ambiguous place was created, whose space-forming properties stepped into the background. The particularly intense, physical experience resulted from the absence of a “room” and the contrast between the black paint and the bright night sky above Frankfurt’s city centre with its high-rises. “Touching Night Skies” deliberately refrains from staging ‘with’ light and uses darkness and the omnipresent light of the urban space instead.

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