Mattia Balsamini


We are all blinded by the shards from billions of artificial lights (or ALAN: Artificial Light At Night), while the night sky has become a soiled canvas, an unknown phenomenon. 83% of the world’s population has never seen the Milky Way, the galaxy we call home. And in cities like Shanghai, where the world’s largest astronomy museum recently opened, 95% of the stars are now invisible to the naked eye. Public lighting, windows, street lamps and even LED headlights emit blue spectrum light that dazzles the nocturnal ecosystem and damages the human circadian cycle, the delicate interplay of sleep and wakefulness. Upsetting this balance can promote the simultaneous onset of diseases such as breast and prostate cancer, diabetes and depression. Epidemiologists are united in considering the disappearance of the night as a risk factor on a level footing with pollution, alcohol and smoking. “We call on the Commission to put into place an ambitious plan to significantly reduce the use of outdoor artificial light by 2030,” the European Parliament announced, in alarmed tones, in its paper on Biodiversity Strategy 2030: Bringing nature back into our lives.

It’s not only light on Earth but also up there: the proliferation of telecommunication satellites creates false cosmic streaks that prevent astronomers from studying the celestial vault. And natural life itself appears to have been harshly affected: migratory birds veer off course, plant leaves no longer sense the onset of winter, and many insects face extinction: this is why defending darkness has become crucial in the ongoing ecological battle to avert the apocalypse. The Protege Noctem project chronicles the unofficial alliance between scientists and citizens to counter the disappearance of the night and its creatures. God, may you protect the shimmering of infinity, wherever it may be found. (By Raffaele Panizza)


Mattia Balsamini, who was born in Pordenone, Italy, in 1987, moved to Los Angeles in 2008, in order to study at the Brooks Institute. In 2010 he began working at David LaChapelle’s studio as an assistant and archivist. In 2011, after obtaining a BA with honors, he returned to Italy. Since then he has been teaching photography at IUAV University of Venice, as well extensively photographing technology and its social implications, focusing on work as a factor in identity. Over the years, he has carried out personal and editorial projects in collaboration with institutions such as MIT, NASA, the Charité University Berlin and the Institute of Forensic Medicine at the University of Zurich. His work has been exhibited at the Milan Triennale, the MAXXI in Rome, the Sandretto Re Rebaudengo Foundation in Turin, and the Italian Cultural Institute in San Francisco.

Mattia Balsamini