Con un luxómetro como lupa (English version)

Lighting Detectives in Mexico City


By Luis Juan López Barreiro

Kaoru Mende
Kaoru Mende

With a lux meter as magnifying glass, expert eyes and sense of humor, Lighting Detectives went out to the streets and squares of Mexico City. The sagacious sight of detectives from Japan such as Reiko Kasai, Noriko Higashii, Mari Kubota and Kaoru Mende; the deductive power of Gustavo Aviles, the shadow hunter Elias Cisneros, Swedish investigators couple Agneta and Jan Ejhed, the relentless FBI with Charles Stone and Jeff Miller, the german precision behind the lead of Christof Fielstette and Ulrike Brandi, Aleksandra Stratimirovic’s instinct, Paulina Villalobos y Lisbeth Skindbjerg’s sensitivity, along with young and talented “Watsons” from UNAM’s lighting specialty, went behind the City’s heroes and villains. Detectives searched for clues in alleged crime scenes like Plaza Santo Domingo, Templo Mayor, Corredor Madero-Zocalo, Alameda, Bellas Artes and Paseo de la Reforma.

Since Kaoru Mende founded in 1990 Lighting Detectives, these insightful characters have gone on a night city walk across many cities around the world to see directly, without ideologies or preconceived theories, the light in the urban space to put the lighting culture in each city under the magnifying glass.

Start downtown in Centro Histórico, in places like Templo Mayor or Zocalo, is to start from ground zero in our civilization, not only to Mexico, but for all Latin America. Mexico City is filled with heroes: it’s architecture, squares and streets, it’s color, sounds; it’s people’s energy generate unique spaces, but when the night falls they don’t always manifest in all their glory.


TNT Code


Our investigation is always accompanied by measuring and work tools, and five basic principles to be a Lighting Detective:

Get angry with surrounding light pollution

Deep and accurate observation of light on site

Do be impressed with artistic lighting

Calmly detect inspiring lighting designs

Continuously accumulate experiences in lighting


Plaza de Santo Domingo

“Before reaching conclusions, lets go to the facts: first measure, observe and feel”, says Charles Stone to his team, who was only missing the pipe to be a real Sherlock Holmes. Light spies walk watchful though Reforma when all of a sudden a villain surprises them, Diana Cazadora, a city’s hero, disappeared before their incredulous eyes! The statue is not illuminated and drowns defenceless in RGB color waters.

Lighting Detectives en Paseo de la Reforma
¿Dónde está la Diana Cazadora?
¿Dónde está la Diana Cazadora?

Meanwhile, on other streets such as Madero or Justo Sierra, other villains shoot at point-blank range their criminal weapons; their guns are wrongly oriented reflectors that infringe upon façades, shooting light from underneath to disfigure it’s victims, modify the perspective and disorient the observer.

Hemiciclo a Juárez

Another one of the number one public enemies in this story is the “Dazzling glare”, this villain get’s it’s own way in many very beautiful spaces that paradoxically doesn’t let us see. The evil “Glare” manifests in places such as Hemiciclo a Juarez or Madero street, turning them into something resembling a football stadium or a landing track, while at the end of the road, instead of seeing the light, languishes in darkness the Zocalo, one of our most famous heroes. The lack of hierarchy, or lighting what matters, is another villain in this movie, Templo Mayor and the side façade of Sagrario de la Catedral Metropolitana are dark and innocent dazzled people can’t admire them.

Sagrario y Templo Mayor

The three days of activities of the Detectives of the Light were passionate. Clues where followed, perpetrators and innocents where found but above all a lot was learned in a fun and stimulating environment. The last session to unveil conclusions was similar to those of police novels, where detectives present enquiries and dazzle the public with their brilliant deductions, for instance how to decide the best color temperature or use the right optics to get light just where the heroes need it.

The auditorium of Medicine Faculty, UNAM was the scenery where detectives showed how to rescue La Diana Cazadora from darkness, how to free el Angel from RGB, or how to kill the “Glare” and put light where it’s needed with the right levels in the right points of the city.

The heroes and villains found in this investigation will be taken to trial with responsible authorities of the city’s lighting, nevertheless, for Gustavo Aviles, who convoked the detectives to Mexico City, the most important of this investigating job and proposal is to plant a seed in the new generations of illuminators, that will be responsible to take care of the illumination in our enclosure.

Lets all take out our magnifying glasses to find heroes and villains in the light of our neighbourhoods and cities. That this initiatives don’t stay just a novel, we can make the good lighting come true.

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