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Editorial: what we do in the shadows

From sleep to dancing to shady behaviours, the April issue looks at what happens in the dark

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In darkness we develop film, we store wine, and we close our eyes. While capitalism prioritises industrious productivity, sleep is arguably the last act of resistance.

In times of ecological catastrophe, political despair and escalating pandemics, the present is critical and the future deeply uncertain. Darkness, as idea, as colour, as matter, signifies the end, but also the potential of a new beginning. 

When only the homeless were found roaming city streets past curfew, nightwalking was a punishable crime. But with Charles Dickens, the introduction of street lighting and inevitable blackouts, and the birth of modern antiheroes, night-time became a privileged laboratory of otherness, a site of secretive exploration and experimentation – despite the nightclub being an endangered building type.

Architecture is heavily reliant on sight, from the tools with which we design to the ways we experience space. Modernism made light, air and sun its religion, and every architect came up with a good quote on the play of light and shadow. In certain climates, architecture is a tool to harness shade, and shelter from the sun both a public resource and a site of civic life As we are continuously engaged with luminous interfaces, countries are slowly adopting laws against light pollution. Pitch-black skies embody the promise of infinity. Darkness needs to be preserved.

Lead image: following his death in 1935, the grave of artist Kazimir Malevich was marked by a concrete cube designed by fellow Suprematist Nikolai Suetin and adorned with Malevich’s famous black square – a motif which also appeared on banners waved by mourners at his funeral. The burial site on the outskirts of Moscow is now lost beneath a luxury apartment block

This piece is featured in the AR April 2020 issue on Darkness – click here to buy your copy today