Moments of Light: How can light affect the perception of time?

Student thesis: Master Thesis and HD Thesis

  • Nicoline Jo Højer Hansen
4. Term, Lighting Design (Master Programme)
Inspired by storytelling and urban scenography, this thesis seeks to explore how the perception of time can be affected by coloured light.
The research is based on literature reviews combining previous research, literature, and talks, to get a broad understanding on topics leading to the research question.
Previous studies have shown that our perception of time can be affected by blue and red light.
A curiosity towards these studies served as the point of reference to this thesis.
To test the phenomenon of time and colours, three experiments were made.
Each experiment was divided respectively into the Lab, the Field, and the Showroom in a transdisciplinary approach trying to include different perspectives of science. The field of sciences included natural science, social science, and humanity, all using qualitative and quantitative methods.
The experiments showed that the perception of time, when exposed to blue light, was perceived as longer compared to red light. These results were shown in both the Lab study and the Field study. In the Lab study blue light was perceived as longest, while the white light was perceived as shortest. In the Field study the perception of time felt more slowly within the white light, and fastest in the red light. Even though the results showed something else, the participants in average expressed that the time perception within the blue light was perceived as being longest, and shortest for the red light
The Showroom study showed how the participants perceived the perception of time in either a coloured dynamic room, a white room, and a black room including a discussion and drawings of their experience.
Since the perception of time can vary depending on many factors, more tests need to be made, to get a more precise understanding of how light and colours can affect our perception of time.

This thesis suggest that storytelling can be the link between architectural lighting design and the time perceived within the space. Storytelling can be used as an artistic approach to design urban scenography, which in this thesis is discussed through design visualisations. This thesis suggests that coloured light and the phenomenon of time can be used to enhance the experience when designing urban spaces and creating stories told with light. By using the idea that colours can affect the perception of time, we as lighting designers dig into a new world of possibilities when designing spaces and art in a nocturnal scene.
Publication date25 May 2022
Number of pages100
ID: 471335614