As photographers, we know how big of a pain light pollution is: it affects our night photos and vision of the night sky. But even though we may not be aware of it, it also negatively affects our mood, sleep cycle, and overall well-being.
To emphasize the impact of light pollution and other types of visual pollution, HouseFresh teamed up with designers to freshen up the view of eight famous locations. Inspired by Rinat Rizvanov’s images of Times Square without the ads, they reimagined these popular places without massive billboards and bright lights. And the difference is striking!
For starters, G. John Cole explains what “visual pollution” refers to. It comes not only from light, but other things like cables, litter, billboards, and building sites. And in this project, the retouchers focused mainly on those large, bright billboards and ugly cable “nests” as I like to call them.
As I mentioned, light pollution doesn’t only affect our photos, and the same goes for visual pollution. It also leads to anxiety, fatigue, and depression, as G. John explains.
“Our brains process images at an astonishing pace: bombarding them with complex, unwanted, and conflicting sights takes its toll. And all this visual noise is particularly galling when you think of the natural and architectural beauty that it masks.”
Furthermore, G. John explains, it also wreaks economic and sociological harm. “Visual pollution impacts house prices and the economic and historical value of heritage sites,” he writes. “The ‘same-ification’ of urban areas with advertising and cheap, mass-produced infrastructure reduces civic pride and damages our sense of identity. These blights cheapen the very fabric of our daily lives.”
For some of these locations, my first thought was that billboards give them the look they’re familiar for. And of course, that’s because I’ve never seen them without those flashing artificial lights. And when they’re all removed, I can’t believe how much cleaner the places look, and how much more pleasant to the eye! I leave you with more photos with and without visual pollution, so you can see for yourself. And let us know – what do you prefer?