If Duct Tape Could Slap Your Hand Before You Apply It…

Ok, I know we’ve seen stuff much worse than this in our lifetimes as professionals working with light – but this is pretty stupendously wrong.  My buddy Erich Friend, an engineer, safety consultant, and CEO of Teqniqal Systems writes a blog about Theatre Safety at – you guessed it – the Theatre Safety Blog!  Erich posted the monstrosity below as a quick reminder on what not to do, ever.  Never.

Can you count the things wrong in this picture?

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Check out The Theatre Safety Blog – Erich’s a knowledgeable dude!

Rafael Lozano-Hemmer’s “Levels of Nothingness”

Do you remember Rafael Lozano-Hemmer’s Pulse Park installation in Madison Square Park? Rafael is back with some other very cool installation work, having finished it last weekend at the Guggenheim Museum.  The work, called Levels of Nothingness, was an inspirational piece on Kandinsky’s “Yellow Sound” essay from 1912.  From Rhizome:

Levels of Nothingness, which Lozano-Hemmer developed in collaboration with philosopher Brian Massumi, takes its inspiration from Kandinsky’s 1912 essay “Yellow Sound.” The installation generates visuals from phonetic data produced by reading philosophical texts by Kandinsky and others. (At the performance, Isabella Rosselini will kick off the readings, and audience members will be encouraged to continue). Rather than translating one kind of information into another to spell out a neatly servable metaphor—as Lozano-Hemmer did, for example, with Pulse Park, which presented Madison Square Park as a living organism by animating it with lights activated by the heart rates of passers-by—Levels of Nothingness promises to be more meditative and fuzzy, suggesting the connection between thought and feeling, or objectivity and subjectivity that the writers it featured tried to put in words. When visualization is so commonly used as a tool to clear things up, it’s encouraging to see artists using it as a way to hint at the murky and unknowable.

John Huntington sent me his article on Levels of Nothingness – thanks a lot, John!  Please check out his article, too!  The images are from John’s Picasa account:

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Bare Conductive Ink – Paint A Circuit On Your Body

One of my most excellent classmates, Valeria Mirarchi, sent me a link about a paintable conductive ink called Bare Conductive.  The ink is paintable, sprayable, and carries a circuit.  The video below shows the ink in practice, using a dancer placed inside a special digital “music box” creating a tune by completing circuits between music modules.  Now granted, I wouldn’t hook myself up to 480V with this stuff (ha ha haaa), but it’s an interesting product!  Check out the video:

From the Bare Conductive website:

Bare is a conductive ink that is applied directly onto the skin allowing the creation of custom electronic circuitry. This innovative material allows users to interact with electronics through gesture, movement, and touch. Bare can be applied with a brush, stamp or spray and is non-toxic and temporary. Application areas include dance, music, computer interfaces, communication and medical devices. Bare is an intuitive and non-invasive technology which will allow users to bridge the gap between electronics and the body.

Bare Conductive is the brainchild of Matt Johnson, Isabel+ Lizardi, Bibi Nelson, and Becky Pilditch.  Check out their website!

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Thanks, Vale!  This rocks!  Thanks to Materials for the initial article!

Willem van der Sluis – Dutch Designer

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At the beginning of this month when we were participating in the “Lighting Machine” project and seminar, our class had the absolute pleasure of spending time learning from Willem van der Sluis – a product designer from Amsterdam.  Willem’s work extends into many product categories, from mobile phones to luminaires, to social structures.  Willem is a very gifted, talented designer – I feel we all learned a lot from his work with us during the weeklong seminar.

Willem’s design firm, Customr, is based in Amsterdam, and has an excellent repertoire of work.  Two of Willem’s most recent accomplishments are the Aircon luminaire that was produced by Luceplan (images below), and the SportDome, a project that Willem and his team created for the Dutch Department of Justice.  I have included some images and some video of Willem’s SportDome from Dutch Profiles, a design site that featured Willem recently.

The SportDomes project is an interesting project – they are essentially an exercise area for illegal aliens being held by the Dutch government.  When Willem lectured about this project in our class, he said that at first he wasn’t interested in designing anything for a jail, which frankly is completely understandable.  To design a structure that could give people being held against their will some form of pleasure in their confined day seems like a project for the cold hearted – but Willem created a structure that not only allows the inmates to play a little sports, but shields them from being scrutinized by outsiders.  The magical aspect of this dome is that at night, when it is illuminated, it is a diamond – a piece of beauty inside the terrible concept of criminality and imprisonment.

I hope you enjoy Willem’s work – it was a pleasure to get to know him a little, and to spend time learning what he had to teach.

Willem is also up for a Rotterdam Design Prize in 2009 – the winner is announced in late November.  Good luck Willem!  I voted for him, and you should too! (wink, wink)

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The Aircon luminaire from Willem van der Sluis and Luceplan:

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Make sure to check out Willem’s firm, Customr.

Visit to Annell Light and Form

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A few weeks ago our class had a site visit to Annell Light and Form, a well-known lighting and design firm in Stockholm.  Annell is a family owned business – the owner, Steffan Annell, gave us a great lecture presentation on lighting sources, color temperature, and color rendering.  After the lecture, we had a blast walking around the showroom floor checking out the various products and projects that the firm represents.

I created a video of our afternoon, and I posted some pictures below.  I hope you enjoy it!

Walking from the “T” to the Annell Studio:

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Nicolaudie’s The Stick in action – I was thrilled to see this!

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Some metal halide ballasts in a group:

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Orquidea seeing the rainbow:

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Contrasting LED green and red chairs:

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Reflector in a copperhead streetlight fixture – beautiful!

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A Siteco wash fixture – pronounced “sih-TEE-co” :

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Some hanging luminaires:

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How High Output Lamps are Made

I hope you are enjoying these “How It’s Made” posts, because I am really enjoying searching for the information!

I found a video displaying how certain high output lamps are manufactured – what really surprised me is how much human interaction there is in the manufacturing process!  I thought this was something that would be fully automated.  Wrong again!

Start this video at around 1:30 unless you want to know how peanut butter is filled into jars and sealed.

The Kruithof Curve – Color Temperature VS Illuminance

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Have you ever heard of the Kruithof Curve?

Back in the early 1940’s when fluorescent sources were beginning to affect the way we thought about light and color rendering, a scientist that worked for Philips named Arie Andries Kruithof performed some informal tests on how the human eye relates the amount of light in a given time of day to the color temperature of the light source.  Typically, human beings like higher color temperature light sources during the daytime hours, and lower color temperature sources once the sun goes down.  People in warmer climates tend to favor cooler color temperature sources, and people in colder climates like warmer light.  It seems pretty intuitive, yes?

Is this an official guaranteed works-for-every-human-on-earth standard?  Of course not.  Everyone is different.  Eastern societies have different preferences than Western societies.  But – and this is a general but – there is a correlation between the amount of light from a light source (lux) and the color temperature of the light source (degrees Kelvin) that seems to be fairly common among us all in most situations.  This is the research that culminated in A. A. Kruithof’s color temperature VS illuminance curve, as seen above.  Kruithof was working on visually pleasing light sources, and was interested in how adjusting the amount of light altered the amount of illumination needed to maintain a pleasing sense to the human eye.

The rods and cones in the human eye work together, and once the amount of illumination reaches a certain low or high point, the rods (intensity sensors) lead the visual information to the brain.  At night, when dusk conditions occur, you might notice that most of the colors in your view tend to be monochromatic, usually blue – this has to do with the low level of illumination, and a phenomenon referred to as the Purkinje Effect.  The Purkinje Effect tries to explain why our brain switches to scotopic vision at dusk when illumination levels are very low, and color rendering is poor – as the brightness of the day decreases, the vibrancy of reds goes away a lot faster than the vibrancy of blues in our vision.

We might have some almost built-in tendencies towards color temperature and light levels – perhaps somehow tied to the cycles of the sun and our circadian cycles.  We might have a tendency to associate warm colors with fire light at night, and we might associate higher color temperatures with the mid-day illumination levels from the sun.  Who really knows.  Kruithof gave it a try, and the curve is what he determined.

The two sources in the graph are the color temperature of Western/Northern Europe at mid-day (D65), and a 2700 Kelvin MR-16 tungsten-halogen source, for reference.

Thanks, ArchLighting and SoLux!

Pimp My Hubble – New Deep Space Images

The Hubble telescope (I’m sorry, “Space Observatory”) recently got a big upgrade – in addition to a new camera, it got two repairs that made the observatory capable of all kinds of new awesomeness.  From the press release at NASA:

“We couldn’t be more thrilled with the quality of the images from the new Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3) and repaired Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS), and the spectra from the Cosmic Origins Spectrograph (COS) and the Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph (STIS),” said Keith Noll, leader of a team at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, which planned the early release observations. “The targets we’ve selected to showcase the telescope reveal the great range of capabilities in our newly upgraded Hubble.”

These results are compelling evidence of the success of the STS-125 servicing mission in May, which has brought the space observatory to the apex of its scientific performance. Two new instruments, the WFC3 and COS, were installed, and two others, the ACS and STIS, were repaired at the circuit board level. Mission scientists also announced Wednesday that the Near Infrared Camera and Multi-Object Spectrometer was brought back into operation during the three months of calibration and testing.

“On this mission we wanted to replenish the ‘tool kit’ of Hubble instruments on which scientists around the world rely to carry out their cutting-edge research,” said David Leckrone, senior project scientist for Hubble at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. “Prior to this servicing mission, we had only three unique instrument channels still working, and today we have 13. I’m very proud to be able to say, ‘mission accomplished.’ “

Is it cheesy for me to say that these images are out of this world?  They truly are – check them out, they’re amazing.

First image – NGC 6302, a butterfly-shaped nebula surrounding a dying star:

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Second image – a galactic clash of Stephan’s Quintet:

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Third image – the huge cluster of Omega Centauri, and 100,000 stars in that cluster:

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Last image for now – a freaky pillar of star birth in the Carina Nebula:

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Thanks, Hubble Site!

The Nirvana LED Bathtub – Yes, A Bathtub With LEDs.

So, sometimes there are things that get marketed to people with lots and lots and lots of money.  There are also times when companies develop things that are only achievable by people of a very high income bracket.  This specific time might be both of those times together.  To be fair, there isn’t a price listed on the website, but my spidey-sense tells me that it’s probably not $250 dollars.

Meet the Nirvana LED Bathtub – a completely touch-controlled LED bathtub with 360 LEDs embedded into the surface:

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See that display in the lower right corner?  It’s upside down in that picture, but it’s an onboard readout of the temperature of the water – which can be changed with your hand motions.  A tub that boasts chromatherapy, digital readouts, complete control, and automatic-ness.  What else do you need, I guess?  I wonder how much this thing is going to retail for when it hits the market?  Like anything else that’s expensive, once you buy it, attractive women will flock to your bathroom.

Oh yeah, and this tub won a Red Dot award.

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Here’s one of the company’s other models – LEDs in a different configuration:

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Thanks, Born Rich!

Hiroshi Sugimoto’s “Lighting Fields Composed”

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Artist and photographer Hiroshi Sugimoto has a series of really beautiful photographs of electricity.  The only thing that’s different in these photographs, however, is how Hiroshi took the photos.  By taking a high voltage source and applying it directly to the film, Hiroshi made these absolutely amazing works.

One thing I like almost more than a work of art itself is understanding where the inspiration came from to create it.  From Hiroshi Sugimoto’s website:

The word electricity is thought to derive from the ancient Greek elektron, meaning “amber.” When subject to friction, materials such as amber and fur produce an effect that we now know as static electricity. Related phenomena were studied in the eighteenth century, most notably by Benjamin Franklin. To test his theory that lightning is electricity, in 1752 Franklin flew a kite in a thunderstorm. He conducted the experiment at great danger to himself; in fact, other researchers were electrocuted while conducting similar experiments. He not only proved his hypothesis, but also that electricity has positive and negative charges.  In 1831, Michael Faraday’s formulation of the law of electromagnetic induction led to the invention of electric generators and transformers, which dramatically changed the quality of human life. Far less well-known is that Faraday’s colleague, William Fox Talbot, was the father of calotype photography. Fox Talbot’s momentous discovery of the photosensitive properties of silver alloys led to the development of positive-negative photographic imaging. The idea of observing the effects of electrical discharges on photographic dry plates reflects my desire to re-create the major discoveries of these scientific pioneers in the darkroom and verify them with my own eyes.

Beautiful. I highly, highly recommend checking out some of Hiroshi’s other works, as they a brilliant – full of contrast and wonder.

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Thanks, Kottke!