HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

Happy Halloween, everyone!

I hope that you have a fun night of tricking, treating, trick-or-treating, and overindulgence of sugar.  I’m going to a party dressed like a grease monkey, and my wife is going as me.  Oh, we’re a crazy pair.

Have fun!

halloween-compact-fluorescent-bulb

POLL: What Time of Day Do You Read JimOnLight.com?

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I am interested in fine-tuning the posting schedule according to how people read JimOnLight.com – I’ve always posted most things starting around 6am central, and I spread things out as the day goes on.  What time of day do you read JimOnLight.com?

If you’re an RSS feed reader, could you vote in the poll below?  Pretty please?  Feeders are readers and are just as important to me as everyone!

What times of day do you read JimOnLight.com? (pick as many as they apply)

  • evening, late night, or during night owl hours (55%, 40 Votes)
  • top of the day at the office (8-9am) (29%, 21 Votes)
  • mid-afternoon, 2-3pm (25%, 18 Votes)
  • mid-morning at the office or at home (10am-ish) (21%, 15 Votes)
  • noon - over lunch or at lunch (21%, 15 Votes)
  • after lunch, while in a lunch coma (19%, 14 Votes)
  • before I go home, or end of the day (4-5pm) (18%, 13 Votes)
  • before 7am with the morning coffee (15%, 11 Votes)
  • elevensies (14%, 10 Votes)

Total Voters: 73

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REMINDER! The iSquint and JimOnLight Light Plot Deconstructed Contest!

isquint_jol-lp-deconstructed

You didn’t forget, did you?  We have so many entries – the contest ends at midnight tonight for a signed copy of Greg Hillmar’s book, Light Plot Deconstructed, about light plots and all of the wonderful things that are involved.

As in all contests on JimOnLight, this one is just as easy – to be entered into the completely random drawing for the last signed copy of Greg’s book, all you have to do is leave a comment on THE ORIGINAL CONTEST POST, here. Leave your name, email address (which will of course not be published or shared with anyone), and if you’re feeling generous, leave me a note!  I LOVE your notes!

I will be running this section of the contest from right now until October 30, 2009 at midnight central time.  Once the contest is closed, I’ll just stop allowing comments on the original post.  Good luck, and thank you so much for reading JimOnLight and iSquint!

TED Talks: Beau Lotto, The Eyes, and The Power of Reality

Have you ever heard of the TED Talks?  TED Talks are lectures from remarkable people in the world, and they’re all free.  The best thing about the TED talks is that not only are they free (like all helpful and inspiring ideas should be) but they are actually something that gives you insight into the mind of someone truly interested in improving the world.

As you can imagine, something that deals with light and that is inspiring is of great interest to me.  I just found a great TED talk – perfect for your Friday morning in the office or at home sipping that first (or second, I suppose, at least in my case) cup of coffee.  Meet Beau Lotto – he’s a guy who is shedding light onto the long time mystery of the brain’s complex visual system.  From TED’s website about why you should watch this video:

“Let there be perception,” was evolution’s proclamation, and so it was that all creatures, from honeybees to humans, came to see the world not as it is, but as was most useful. This uncomfortable place — where what an organism’s brain sees diverges from what is actually out there — is what Beau Lotto and his team at Lottolab are exploring through their dazzling art-sci experiments and public illusions. Their Bee Matrix installation, for example, places a live bee in a transparent enclosure where gallerygoers may watch it seek nectar in a virtual meadow of luminous Plexiglas flowers. (Bees, Lotto will tell you, see colors much like we humans do.) The data captured isn’t just discarded, either: it’s put to good use in probing scientific papers, and sometimes in more exhibits.

Outside the studio work, the brain-like (that is, multidisciplinary) organization is also branching out to bigger public engagement works. It’s holding regular “synesthetic workshops” where kids and adults make “color scores” — abstract paintings that computers interpret into music, as with scrolls fed to a player piano. And lately they’re planning an outdoor walkway of color-lit, pressure-sensitive John Conway-esque tiles that react and evolve according to foot traffic. These and Lotto’s other conjurings are slowly, charmingly bending the science of perception — and our perceptions of what science can be.

Lotto teaches at University College London.

“All his work attempts to understand the visual brain as a system defined, not by its essential properties, but by its past ecological interactions with the world. In this view, the brain evolved to see what proved useful to see, to continually redefine normality.”

British Science Association

Ok, the video is more than five minutes, but it is an investment in intelligence. Check it out:

Make sure to check out some of TED’s other lectures (well worth the time), and definitely check out Beau’s laboratory, Lotto Lab.

Materials Testing Under Different Light Sources

Now that I am back home and not in Sweden, I have been combing through some of the work that I did in my first few months at KTH.  I took a lot of photographs of pretty much everything I could take photos of when I was in Sweden, and I got some interesting shots of a variety of things, including project work.

One of the first projects we did in groups was the Materials Testing project.  It was a very simple project with a goal more along the lines of working in groups that really much else – each group was to pick three “materials” out of a bin of random stuff in the lighting lab and take pictures of it under three of the different light sources in the lab’s light box.  The box was a shelf of chambers, each with a different light source in it – halogens, fluorescents, incandescents, oh my (et al):

lightbox

As a group, we analyzed each material under the sources we chose – an opal (frosted) incandescent (around 3,000 Kelvin), a Philips Activiva fluorescent source (at around 17,000 Kelvin, I think), and high-pressure sodium lamp (around 2400 Kelvin).  What our group wanted to do over other groups was to give the images we took representational names as opposed to descriptive modifiers with no artistic or intrinsic value.

I’ve listed the nine images below – I’ve also grouped them into material type, as it’s interesting to see the same material under three different sources in contrast.

First material:  an ellipsoidal reflector
Light sources, in order:  incandescent, HPS, Activiva
The image names we invented were based on the group’s collective emotional response to each material and light source.

“Loud Halo”
loud_halo_web

“Martian Effect”
martian_effect_web

“Deep Blue Eye”
deep_blue_eye_web

Second material:  a piece of gold and silver reflective material
Light sources, in order:  incandescent, HPS, Activiva

“True Fracture”
True_fracture_web

“Super Sodium”
supersodium_web

“Regal Death”
regal_death_web

Third material:  a wash reflector, stippled
Light sources, in order:  incandescent, HPS, Activiva

“White Desert”
White desert_web

“Golden Waffles”
golden_waffles_web

“Moon Waves”
moon_waves_web

Luke Jerram’s Glass Infectious Diseases

My friend Carla sent me an interesting article about some work that Luke Jerram is doing.  Luke is an artist and research fellow in the UK at the University of Southampton – he has an exhibit open right now, called “Plant Orchestra.”

The article chronicled a few of his works from a previous installation – one of them really caught my eye.  Luke’s work called “Glass Microbiology” was in an article with a few of his other works – the glass pieces he created for this work are beautiful.  They catch the light in such odd ways, obviously from shape:  Luke’s collection is a glass representation of several really nasty infectious diseases – H1N1, E. coli, HIV, SARS – you know, the fun ones!

Check these out:

E. coli
e-coli

Smallpox
smallpox

Smallpox, a virus that Luke dreamed up, and HIV:
viruses

An article at Seed Magazine had a story about Luke and his work – check it out!  From the article, about “Glass Microbiology”:

For “Glass Microbiology,” Jerram worked with University of Bristol virologist Andrew Davidson and took inspiration from high-resolution electron microscopic images, creating large, painstakingly accurate glass sculptures of notorious viruses and bacteria such as HIV, E. coli, SARS, and recently, H1N1. Jerram’s H1N1 sculpture was just accepted permanently into the Wellcome Collection in London and loaned to the Mori Art Museum in Tokyo for exhibition in January. What started as a question of science communication turned into an interplay between the beautiful and dangerous, as well as a reflection on the limits of scientific understanding.

“When I ask virologists how exactly RNA is packed into a virus, well, the answer is that they just don’t know. Most viruses are right at the edges microscopy capabilities,” Jerram says. “So scientists have take a leap—from what they can see to what they know about chemical interactions.” Renderings of these microbes, as with many constructs throughout science, are a jigsaw puzzle of direct observation and predictions. “It’s important to explore these boundaries and limitations,” he says.

If that wasn’t interesting enough, check this out:

interpretation-figure-1

interpretation-figure-2

From Luke’s website – about Interpretation Figure, the work above:

The performance and photographic artwork was commissioned by Enable to be used as a logo for Electric Pavilion.

The figure has been interpreted as an angel, city spirit, alien and hoax.  How might this figure be interpreted in other cities and countries around the world? The Bristol Evening Post helped promote the myth before withdrawing their support on grounds that they weren’t telling the truth.

TAKE THAT, Retina! Fovea THIS!

Hey, you wanna see the inside of my eye?  No, really.  The inside of my eye.

I’M SERIOUS!

Check it out:

right-color-jimonlight

That’s the freaking inside of my right eye – you’re looking at my right retina, optic nerve, macula, and fovea – and a ton of vessels in the background and foreground.  Obviously by now you’ve determined that the tree looking things in the bottom of the picture are my eyelashes.  Check it out in black and white – around the macula you can see a weird pattern or reflection of some kind – it looks like a lizard eye staring at you!

Oh, is that just me? [awkward]

right-bw-jimonlight

Do you know what the heck I’m talking about?  Fovea, macula, retina, etcetera?

If you know all of this already, I am glad to tell you again!

The retina is easy – it’s the large part in the picture.  The retina is the back of your eyeball, which contains the light and color receptors (rods and cones, respectively) that the brain uses to tell what’s going on visually.  It has blood vessels and stuff like that wound into it so that it can get food and oxygen to the parts of the eye that need it.

The macula and fovea are an interesting part of your eye.  When you hear of “macular degeneration” and people having problems with their visual focus, this is often something to be considered.  Check out the left eye – the macula is the spot in the picture below that looks like a violin body, or the mark on the thorax of a Black Widow spider, kind-of.  Inside of that is the fovea, which is the central point of focus in our vision:

left-zoom-fovea-jimonlight

and even better in black and white:

left-bw-zoom-fovea-jimonlight

That thing – the fovea – it’s a dip in the retina filled with rod and cone cells, and the center of it is the concentration of human visual acuity, or focus.  Around half of the information the optic nerve carries to the brain is from the fovea.  The detailed vision spot – when it is damaged, focus goes away.  The bright spot is the optic nerve going to the brain, sending messages of everything you see.

The macula is the kind-of yellow-y area surrounding the fovea and containing the fovea – the fovea is essentially the center of the macula.

I always equated the process of sending the images from the eye to the brain like sending a RAW file.

Check out a color shot of my left eye:

left-color-jimonlight

followed by the black and white:

left-BW-jimonlight

Here’s another term – ischemia.  This is a reason to lose weight and be healthy for anyone.  An ischemia is a complete lack of blood flow to a portion of the body, and that starved portion dies.  Here’s a little game I’ll play – somewhere in one of my eyes I have an ischemia from an old high blood pressure episode.  Think you know what it looks like?  The first person between now and December 31 who correctly locates the ischemia, I’ll send you a $10 Amazon gift certificate.  You have to highlight the ischemia in one of the pictures in this post and email me your guess.

The human body is full of wonder, isn’t it?

So Much Progress, So Few Local Artists

MainStreetGardenSpotforChristmasTree
(image from UnFair Park, the Dallas Observer blog)

Ah, I love being back in Dallas, Texas.  There are so many things going on in Dallas right now, from new construction, to art installations, to new construction with art installations implanted.  As a lighting designer in the DFW Metro, I am extremely excited to see the projects being put into play in the downtown scene come to fruition.

Case in point:  the new Main Street Garden, with lighting installations from New York light artist Leni Schwendinger and a very soon-to-be large Christmas tree designed by New York landscape designer Thomas Balsley.  After all, Dallas is a place that is growing and changing like the best of the cities in our great country.  We’re proud of Dallas.  We’ve got the big new AT&T Performing Arts Center to house some of the best work ever to be presented on stage, the Dallas Theatre Center and their ever-so-awesome seasons of life-changing theatre and works of genius, and a city so full of artists, designers, and other extremely creative people that it’s busting at its seams.

Since Dallas is full of people who love art, love light and lighting, and certainly love this city, why are the majority of the lighting designers and lighting artists chosen to do work on the city of Dallas from places like New York, Chicago, or LA?

When it comes to lighting the city of Dallas itself, why aren’t local companies and local lighting artists chosen?  Does the fact that a designer or artist lives in Dallas make that person exempt from creating “good” art?  Believe me – there are people right here in the Dallas area who have ideas and design talents just as good as those from any other “big” city.

I’m certainly not naive, don’t get me wrong – with regional theatre companies like Dallas Theatre Center, it can be impossible to light a show there if you’re not from New York, LA, or Chicago.  I guess it really comes down to who you know – which is a shame considering the talent in DFW.  From a budget standpoint, doesn’t it seem like hiring local talent might cut back on expenses that could otherwise be avoided?

So how can we change this and give local talent a chance to do what no one in Dallas seems to believe we can do?  I know that this problem isn’t a Dallas-only issue.  So how would you improve this in your community?

Thanks, UnFair Park!

JimOnLight and iSquint Tweet-Up – TWITVITE ALIVE!

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Remember all of that “hey, JimOnLight.com and iSquint.net are having a Tweet-Up at the LDI21009 Orlando Conference this year!” stuff?

It’s officially now official.  If you’re on Twitter and coming to the LDI 2009 Tweet-Up, go check out the official TwitVite!  Let us know that you’re coming or not, and see who else is coming to meet up.  We’re going to have a blast!

When you’re telling people on Twitter about the JimOnLight and iSquint LDI2009 Tweet-Up, make sure to tag your Tweet with hash tag #ldi09tweetup so everyone knows what the score is!  We are looking forward to seeing you there!