Moving Through the Lit World: The Emergent Experience of Urban Paths

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There is growing scholarship both on how light (and darkness) shapes our perception and experience of our surroundings and coalesces particular affective experiences. In this article, we build on this emerging field to address a fundamental but unexplored question for understanding urban experience: how is the experience of everyday movement through the city constituted in relation to automated urban lighting. We argue that the affective and sensory aspects of the “lit world” need to be accounted for, an aspect of quotidian urban experience that remains underexplored. In doing so, we discuss a mobile sensory ethnography of public urban “light routes” by drawing on the words and photographs of people moving through the city of Melbourne, Australia on their journeys home at the end of the day. Their stories about automated lighting reveal how particular affective intensities, responses to urban complexity and aesthetic experiences emerged on the move, and begin to account for the role of the “lit world” in everyday experience.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)358-374
Number of pages17
JournalSpace and Culture
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • automation
  • ethnography
  • light
  • lit world
  • senses

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