Hard wired into our preferences is that we like one strong form of lighting, this should not be directly overhead but to one side (In theatre the term key light) above …Top left preferences. In a study of art through the ages in over 200 pictures 75% of them displayed the artist introducing light from the top left. People have reacted in studies showing this human preference and some traits may point towards personal preference of light and being left or right handed…I am yet to study these papers, but you can be sure I will update my blog.
In a very well cited paper by Ramachandran (ask me for links if you might like them)… it shows the way we interpret a shape with assuming one light source…when multiple options exist we make a choice as which way we see the object …even bizarrely filling in mentally the remaining sides of a 2 dimensional shape to see it as a 3D cube. These studies reinforce predispositions in our human perception (and much again dates to Gestalt theories from 1890’s…) that we interpret information and fill in the gaps of any incomplete data to make sense and give it reason, based on our experience. Imagine how different our perception would be if we lived in a World with two or more Sun’s?
As a lighting designer, it is our role to understand the way people will feel in a space, the more we understand ourselves and our fellow human beings the better our designs can be.