JimOnLight.com’s Guide to Christmas Lights is BACK!

Oh yes, it is THAT TIME AGAIN, my friends!

It’s time for the JimOnLight.com Guide to Christmas Lights! This is the time of year when people dig out the crazy plastic Santas with sled and reindeer, the Frosty the Snowman yard art, and go to town getting all Clark W. Griswold all over their houses!

The JimOnLight.com Guide to Christmas Lights has been blessed with some pretty worldwide attention, having been read in 190 countries across the world.  We even got plagiarized by Gizmodo last year!  How crazy is THAT?!

I’ll be adding more parts this season – coming on Tuesday, November 30, I’ll post Part Five – Christmas Lighting MATH!  Until then, you can get caught up on the first four parts:

PART ONE:  The History of Christmas Lights

PART TWO:  Modern Christmas Light Lamp Types and Sizes

PART THREE:  Form Factors of Christmas Lights

PART FOUR:  Christmas Light Power and Safety

Stay tuned – more JimOnLight.com Guide to Christmas Lights parts coming up!

Ten Songs about Light, or ДЕСЯТЬ ПЕСЕН О ФОНАРЯХ

I randomly came across this really great set of ten images of light in the winter – 35 Photo has a post up right now, in Russian (but that’s why Google Translate is amazing), which are totally worth your time to check out.  I’ve posted two of the images below, but you need to go check out the rest!

This next one is – oh, awesome:

Holy Creeping Crap, It’s Christmas Lights Time!

chevy_tree

Yes, it’s the time of year when all electrical safety rules go flying out the window like a vegetarian running from Texas de Brazil.  The same time of year, in fact, that people all over the world will be stringing up runs of lighting in LED, incandescent, and in some applications, even fluorescent christmas lights.

Remember that scene in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation where Chevy Chase plugged in the redonkulously large holiday display on his house that he had installed, and it caused the nuclear power plant to have to flip some switch for more power?  Yeah.  I think of Christmas lighting like that.  But I wish I could give the world a class on Christmas lighting – sometimes it’s just not necessary to put the whole nativity scene lit with disco balls AND the full-sized Santa and the full reindeer team up this year.  Seriously!

In the up and coming few days, I’m gonna publish a few guides on Christmas lighting – controllers, different types, color information, and a few other informative-y things.  This is the time of year when people are planning their massive holiday lighting displays, so I want to help if I can help at all!  There are many things to consider – what kind of lights to buy, how to make them turn on, and most importantly, how to make your lights kick everyone else’s lights’ rears in your neighborhood without setting the whole neighborhood aflame.

And now, the Trans-Siberian Orchestra Christmas Lighting video that everyone has seen seven triple gazillion times:

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!

Gobos On The Andes Mountains

A project that was actually finished back in the mid-1990’s is getting some press in the last few days.  Lucy and Jorge Orta of Studio Orta took some very long-throw follow spots up into the Andes Mountains and projected templates onto the huge range, including some of Machu Picchu.

Studio Orta’s project, entitled “Imprints on the Andes“, is being displayed (in historical media, of course) at an exibition in Paris called Uninhabitable? Art of Extreme Environments.

You have to see these images – something that is so simple in principle certainly made some beautiful imagery.  I’ve been racking the Google trying to find this model of spot – does it look familiar to anyone?  It certainly appears to be a high output followspot of some sort, it’s got a boomerang on the top…

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andes

carrying_the_roadcases

Thanks, BldgBlog and Gizmodo!

Solar Blossoms in Austin – SunFlowers, An Electric Garden

I’ve not been to Austin a lot – a few times for working and visiting – but this is the kind of project I would want to see if I lived there.  Meet the SunFlowers, a photovoltaic sculpture garden that collects solar energy and turns it into night time light:

sunflower solar

A blurb from Good Mag on the project:

Comprised of 15 flower-shaped photovoltaic solar panels that line a pedestrian and bike path on the greenbelt between a retail lot and highway I-35, SunFlowers was unveiled on July 30. In such close proximity to a prominent highway, the 30-foot structures are, as Harries/Héder put it, “a highly visible metaphor for the energy-conscious city of Austin.” But because each one is a working solar collector, the art piece is both emblematic and functional.

The energy that the panels collect during the day is used, come nightfall, to power SunFlowers’ stunning blue LEDs, which illuminate the path below for bike-riders and walkers, and generally beautifying the area. An extra 15 kilowatts generated each day is fed back into the grid and used offset the costs of operation and maintenance.

What do you think of this installation? I’m actually a fan of projects like this – projects that use technology like solar tech and repurpose it in a dual role as art and civil lighting interest me.  The developer paid a large part of the project, and a grant was given for the materials.

Some information on the project from Mags Harries and Lajos Heder’s website – the creators of the SunFlowers project:

Location:      Austin, TX
Client:            Catellus Development Co.
Size:                30′ x 1000′ x 16′
Materials:     Photovoltaic solar collector panels, welded steel frames and stems, landforms and plantings
Budget:         $595,000:
$470,000 from the Developer
$75,000 from Austin Energy rebate
$50,000 grant from Applied Materials Inc.

The 15 SunFlowers that form the Electric Garden are sculptural solar collectors that generate solar energy for lighting at night. The additional 15 kilowatts of energy that they produce is fed into the electrical grid for credit, which will fund the maintenance and operating costs for the project. During the day they provide shade for a pedestrian/bicycle path and at night the LED’s in the SunFlowers’ stamens glow with blue light.
SunFlowers was initiated as a buffer to mask the loading docks at the edge of the Mueller Development from the I-35 highway.

To date, this is the largest public art project in the City of Austin.  SunFlowers is both an icon for the sustainable, LEED certified Mueller Development and a highly visible metaphor for the energy conscious City of Austin.

The custom-made solar collector panels have a blue crystalline surface and appear like a garden of huge flowers facing the northbound traffic on I-35.

More images of the project:

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sunflower austin

sunflower model

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sunflower_closeup

Thanks, Good and Core77!

Tel Aviv Tunnels, Meet Bar & Shay

Israel’s second largest city Tel Aviv has a series of underground walking tunnels that were a great place for artists Bar & Shay to unleash their latest work.  The artists altered the public lighting  in the tunnels to something a little more colorful.  From Wooster Collective, the tunnels with their normal lighting:

tel aviv tunnel

Now, the Bar & Shay alterations, which they stated were inspired by Dorothy and The Wizard of Oz:

bar and shay tel aviv

tel aviv bar and shay

Not a lot of info is available about this installation (yet), but the images are stunning!  This makes me want to start altering stuff around here!

Cliff Garten’s “Avenue of Light” in Fort Worth, TX

I am going to be making my way over to see this sooner than later now that we’re back in Dallas.

fort worth

Cliff Garten, the architect/sculptor guy, was commissioned to provide the series of six LED towers, each over 36 feet high.  From the city website:

Towering 36 feet above the streetscape, the Avenue of Light sculptures are comprised of 100 stainless steel plates that reflect sunlight by day and focus beams of energy-efficient LED lights at night. They’ve been installed along the median from Lamar Street to Main/Commerce Street and will be illuminated with white lights from dusk to dawn, but will include many color options to accent the avenue during holidays and other special occasions.

Cool.  Anyone been over to see this yet?

Attention, Lighting Designers! YOU MUST READ Texas House Bill 2649

Everybody, this bill is scheduled for a vote TOMORROW.  Texas House Bill 2649 puts us out of business, folks.

I just got information from John Baker in Houston about Texas House Bill 2649.  I don’t know what your feelings are on this, but it deserves a read.  IALD sent out a letter about voting this down – I have copied both the verbage in the bill and the letter from IALD below.

First and foremost, this bill is going to make it impossible for lighting designers who work in Texas to work on projects without being licensed as either an electrician, architect, engineer, landscape architect, or interior designer.  From the Texas House Bill 2649:

Section 1001.3011 to read as follows:
Sec. 1001.3011.  LIGHTING DESIGN; LICENSE OR REGISTRATION REQUIRED. (a) A person may not perform or offer to perform lighting design services unless the person is:  (1)licensed as an engineer under this chapter;(2) registered as an architect, landscape architect, or interior designer under Subtitle B, Title 6; or (3) licensed under Chapter 1305.  (b) In this section, “lighting design services” means the preparation of plans and specifications that depict the placement and direction of illumination of mounted or installed lighting fixtures in the interior or exterior of a building, including the specification of bulbs, reflectors, lens, louvers, baffles, and other hardware. The term does not include the preparation of shop drawings or other directions from a manufacturer for the installation or operation of lighting fixtures.

Also, read this:

SECTION 5.  Subchapter F, Chapter 1051, Occupations Code, is amended by adding Section 1051.308 to read as follows:  Sec. 1051.308.  LIGHTING DESIGN; REGISTRATION OR LICENSE REQUIRED. (a) A person may not perform or offer to perform lighting design services unless the person is:  (1) registered as an architect, landscape architect, or interior designer under this subtitle; (2) licensed as an engineer under Chapter 1001; or (3) licensed under Chapter 1305.   (b) In this section, “lighting design services” means the preparation of plans and specifications that depict the placement and direction of illumination of mounted or installed lighting fixtures in the interior or exterior of a building, including the specification of bulbs, reflectors, lens, louvers, baffles, and other hardware. The term does not include the preparation of shop drawings or other directions from a manufacturer for the installation or operation of lighting fixtures.  SECTION 6. Subchapter D, Chapter 1305, Occupations Code, is amended by adding Section 1305.1511 to read as follows:  Sec. 1305.1511. LIGHTING DESIGN; LICENSE OR REGISTRATION REQUIRED. (a) A person may not perform or offer to perform lighting design services unless the person is:  (1) licensed under this chapter;  (2) licensed as an engineer under Chapter 1001; or  (3) registered as an architect, landscape architect, or interior designer under Subtitle B, Title 6.  (b) In this section, “lighting design services” means the preparation of plans and specifications that depict the placement and direction of illumination of mounted or installed lighting fixtures in the interior or exterior of a building, including the specification of bulbs, reflectors, lens, louvers, baffles, and other hardware. The term does not include the preparation of shop drawings or other directions from a manufacturer for the installation or operation of lighting fixtures.

A letter from IALD:

INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF LIGHTING DESIGNERS IALD STATEMENT ON TEXAS HOUSE BILL 2649

The Texas State Legislature is about to consider legislation that will have the unintended consequence of outlawing an entire profession-lighting design. The International Association of Lighting Designers (IALD) strongly urges all members of the Texas Legislature to drop this legislation, Texas House Bill 2649.

Slated for a vote on May 27, 2009, the legislation has been drafted without any input from lighting designers, and restricts the practice of lighting design to members of other professions and trades, such as architects, engineers, and electricians. There are no provisions in the legislation for establishing a licensing standard for lighting designers.

Members of the IALD abide by a strict code of ethics and bring both engineering knowledge and artistic sensibilities to bringing out the best in buildings and outdoor spaces. IALD professional lighting designers dedicate their careers exclusively to the art and science of lighting. There is no substitute for their level of expertise and professionalism.

The economic impact of the proposed legislation will be extensive: dozens of lighting designers practice in Texas, and hundreds of projects in the state depend on professional lighting designers for their full architectural expression.
We believe that the Texas Legislature does not mean to outlaw an entire profession, but that is the impact of the proposed legislation. Please vote against House Bill 2649.

Ok, lighting designers.  CALL THESE PEOPLE EARLY TOMORROW and let them know that you do not approve:

Rep. Wayne Smith  512. 463.0733
Sen. Bob Deuell  512.463.0122
Sen. Kip Averitt  512.463.0102

The current status of the bill for Texas House Bill 2649 is here.

The text of Texas House Bill 2649 is here.

Look up your local Texas person here.  MAKE SURE you do this step, this is who’s gonna vote!

Act quickly on this one, it gets voted on tomorrow, May 27, 2009.