Late Night Excellent: Rain Room at The Barbican, 2012

This is absolutely great.  Before I say sh*t, watch this:

Rain Room at the Barbican, 2012 from rAndom International on Vimeo.

OK, no, wait, watch another video, it’s late anyway:

GAH!  This is too awesome!

First and foremost, THIS IS STILL GOING ON at the Barbican Gallery, and WILL BE until MARCH 3, 2013.  SO, this means you need to get out there and see it!  If you live in the London metro or are going to be there between now and March 3, 2013, you need to check this out.  Go to the Barbican Gallery visitor’s page and get some info on the what, when, where, how, by clicking here!

Rain Room was created by rAndom International –

From the Barbican Gallery’s page on rAndom International‘s Rain Room exhibit:

Random International invites you to experience what it’s like to control the rain. Visitors can choose to simply watch the spectacle or find their way carefully through the rain, putting their trust in the work to the test.

More than the technical virtuosity necessary for its success, the piece relies on a sculptural rigour, with the entire Curve transformed by the monumental proportions of this carefully choreographed downpour and the sound of water.

Random International are known for their distinctive approach to digital-based contemporary art. Their experimental artworks come alive through audience interaction and staged performance.

Random International are represented by Carpenters Workshop Gallery, London and Paris.

In order for visitors to enjoy the sensory experience of Rain Room, there is a limited capacity of 5 people at a time in the rain.

Please be aware that due to the popularity of Rain Room, the queue time currently stands at around two hours, at peak times including evenings and weekends up to three hours.

We advise visitors to arrive as early in the day as possible, a minimum of two hours before closing time. Entry to the queue is subject to the number of visitors already waiting. Anyone arriving later may not be allowed to join the queue as we are unable to admit visitors after the gallery closes. Thank you for your patience.

Sun 18 Nov, 2 Dec, 20 Jan, 24 Feb
12-5pm, The Curve
Wayne McGregor Random Dance, with a score by Max Richter

Experience a unique fusion of art and movement on four Sundays during the exhibition as dancers respond to Rain Room.

Admission is free and will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis from the queue. Please arrive early to allow for long queues due to a very limited capacity inside the Curve.

I also think this text from rAndom International’s website on Rain Room is pretty awesome too — but please check out the rAndom International website, it is absolutely a eye-stroking experience!

Water, injection moulded tiles, solenoid valves, pressure regulators, custom software, 3D tracking cameras, wooden frames, steel beams, hydraulic management system, grated floor 

Rain Room has been made possible through the generous support of the Maxine and Stuart Frankel Foundation for Art.

Video by Gramafilm, music by Max Richter

Rain Room is a hundred square metre field of falling water through which it is possible to walk, trusting that a path can be navigated, without being drenched in the process.

As you progress through The Curve, the sound of water and a suggestion of moisture fill the air, before you are confronted by this carefully choreographed downpour that responds to your movements and presence.


All of these images are directly from the rAndom International website, and I thank them for it!

Misnomer Majestica: Fire Rainbows

So-called Fire Rainbows actually have nothing to do with fire or rainbows, however they are absolutely awesome! The correct nomenclature for this optical phenomenon is circumhorizontal arc (circumhorizon arc and lower symmetric 46° plate arc are also accepted). A multi-colored halo (spanning from the red wavelengths at the top to the indigo like a rainbow) that runs parallel to the horizon occurs when the sun’s height in the sky is more than 58° above the horizon and its light passes through a cirrus cloud or haze consisting of ice crystals. These ice crystals must be hexagonal and plate-shaped, facing parallel to the ground. When light enters the top of the ice crystal through its vertical side face, and exits bending through the lower horizontal face, it separates like a prism.

While the circumhorizontal arcs are indeed arcs, they frequently only appear in small sections of wispy cirrus clouds where the ice crystals are properly aligned, which leads to the misnomer “fire rainbow”. Here’s a small gallery of this spectacular optical phenomenon:


Arctic Photo, Tromsø, Norway

Seeing an aurora has been on my bucket list since as soon as I could brag to my childhood friends the name of the Disney princess was actually a  freaking awesome astronomical phenomena.

Auroras form from energized particles (predominantly electrons) accelerate across Earth’s magnetic fields, colliding with our gasses and creating photons! Their colors of the aurora are determined by which gas atoms and molecules the particles collide with. Check out the graph below, which shows how the gas dispersal in our atmosphere at different altitudes creates the different colors of auroras. The colors of their lines relate to the predominant color the particle collision with these gasses create.  WICKED, huh?!

They start as still east-west bands, until they suddenly “dance” across the sky in waves. Then the aurora will break in to numerous arcs and continue its dance travelling towards the south

Recently we experienced the largest solar flare in 6 years, which triggered beautiful auroras in even lower altitudes than they usually lie, and at intensities that staggered seasoned aurora scientists. Below is a SPECTACULAR video that shows the truly unbelievable range of movement and speed of a recent auroral substorm… but most importantly which most aurora time lapses don’t show–humans! Marvel at the sheer scale and speed of movement of these phenomena! What’s even more exciting is, the sun is likely to become even more active with solar storms in the next few months and years! BRING IT, YOU HOT, MASSIVE SPHERE OF PLASMA AND MAGNETIC FEILDS.

Lights Over Lapland Photo Expedition video of CME impact on 1-24-2012 from Lights Over Lapland on Vimeo.


The photo above was taken by Bjørn Jørgensen. It and many more shots of the recent flares can be seen here.

Learn about NASA’s Themis mission which studies auroral substorms and other space weather here.

Jim posted another aurora time lapse video almost a year ago that is QUALITY.

Graph via the Geophysical Institute at University of Alaska.


Peace, love, and photons!

The Lightning Fantastic, Oklahoma City, August 8, 2011

I drove back from Arlington, Texas last night.  Long story short, I left around 8pm last night, and I spent the entire three hour drive just completely enamored with the sky lighting up with huge bolts of lightning.  I remembered seeing the Trinity test video, and so many other night-based explosions in movies; the sky last night reminded me of that type of phenomenon.  So many bolts of lightning piercing the darkness, it was just like watching that scene in the newest Harry Potter when all of the folks are casting the spells over the school campus.  Overwhelming; beautiful.

(Sorry folks, I’m not a Harry Potter person, I just saw the one…)

I got home and made this video, since I was blessed AGAIN with the lack of tiredness in my body after that drive.  I took about a half hour’s worth of lightning strikes in downtown and condensed them down to about two minutes.  I hope you enjoy!  I’m a great big goofball, just be forewarned.

The Lightning Fantastic in Oklahoma City, August 8, 2011 from Jim Hutchison on Vimeo.

Thanks, NatGeo and Tal Bachman!

Friday Awesome – Northern Lights Time-Lapse Video


This has been one crazy busy week!  I’m in technical rehearsals tomorrow for a greek show called The House of Atreus – I am lighting the show, and I wrote a bunch of music for it, so my brain should be completely yogurt by the end of the weekend.  I’m also about to launch into the focus week for The Wedding Singer – oh yeah, I still have to build a light plot for that show.

Good times!

I saw this last night, and I had to share it with you all – check out this time lapse video of Aurora Borealis in the night time sky.  Photographer Terje Sorgjerd is the man responsible for this beautiful work – from what I understand, it is the culmination of tens of thousands of photos!

The Aurora from Terje Sorgjerd on Vimeo.

Crepuscular Rays. Know Them, Love Them.

My friend Millisa sent me this pic the other day, and it kinda blew my mind:

Those rays!  Holy crap!  SO BEAUTIFUL!  That’s the stuff that paintings are made of, right?  Funny enough, they actually have a real name and an explanation – they’re called crepuscular rays.  It’s kind of an unfortunate sounding name, don’t you think?  It sounds like something you’d find on the bottom of a ship cruising Lake Michigan.


But the principle is very awesome – atmospheric optics dictates these crepuscular rays as beams of light that appear to emanate from one single point in the sky, from the sun.  A cloud, mountain top, or some other obstruction is what causes this phenomenon.  Honestly, it’s no different than the beam that comes out of a moving light, conventional light, or anything of the sort.  It’s a blockage – just like the aperture of a lighting fixture is a blockage to only allow enough beamage out of the light to make it diverge, or appear to diverge.  Like this:

There are also anticrepuscular rays, too – they are the opposite of crepuscular rays, and typically you have to have your back to the sun to see them.  Anticrepuscular rays appear to converge at the antisolar point, which is the exact opposite point in the sky from the sun.  Like this:

Cool.  I like to learn something new every day!

Thanks, APOD (1) and APOD (2)!

What is The “UV Index,” and Why Should I Care?

I was driving earlier this morning through Ontario on my way to Buffalo for a flight, and the sky was clear and cloudless.  It’s a little on the chilly side up there in the Buffalo area (at least it was at 7am when I was on the road), but on the CBC News I heard an anchor talk about a “very high UV index that will make being outside a little on the burny side.”

What?  I’m going to Dallas right now on a flight, and the UV Index is something that I’ve always just assumed was because we’ve polluted a hole in the ozone, and Nicolas Cage is going to have to deal with aliens like he did in that horrible movie about the sun burning up the Earth.

So what exactly IS the UV Index, how does it affect us, and why should we care?

Well, have you ever been sunburned?  How about melanoma?  Ever had a skin cancer scare?  Sun poisoning?  Blisters?  It’s the ultraviolet rays of the sun’s radiation that make our skin the color of a lobster when we’re out in it.  Did you know that overexposure to the sun can cause cataracts?!

Yeah.  I still love the sun.  That’s probably why I’ll look like a freaking leather catcher’s mitt when I’m 50.

There are three types of ultraviolet radiation:

  • UVA – makes it through the ozone layer
  • UVB – mostly absorbed by the ozone layer; some does reach the Earth’s surface
  • UVC – completely absorbed by the ozone layer and oxygen

Our Environmental Protection Agency has quantified the risk of the amount of UV exposure that we get on a certain day.  From the EPA’s website on sun exposure:

and something a little more helpful, from Wikipedia:

UV Index Description Media Graphic Color Recommended Protection
0–2 No danger to the average person Green Wear sunglasses on bright days; use sunscreen if there is snow on the ground, which reflects UV radiation, or if you have particularly fair skin.
3–5 Little risk of harm from unprotected sun exposure Yellow Wear sunglasses and use sunscreen, cover the body with clothing and a hat, and seek shade around midday when the sun is most intense.
6–7 High risk of harm from unprotected sun exposure Orange Wear sunglasses and use sunscreen having SPF 15 or higher, cover the body with sun protective clothing and a wide-brim hat, and reduce time in the sun from two hours before to three hours after solar noon (roughly 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM during summer in zones that observe daylight saving time).
8–10 Very high risk of harm from unprotected sun exposure Red Wear sunscreen, a shirt, sunglasses, and a hat. Do not stay out in the sun for too long.
11+ Extreme risk of harm from unprotected sun exposure Violet Take all precautions, including: wear sunglasses and use sunscreen, cover the body with a long-sleeve shirt and trousers, wear a very broad hat, and avoid the sun from two hours before to three hours after solar noon.

I guess that extra four hours a day in the sun over a period of 30 years wasn’t so good for me after all, huh!

When you’re outside this summer, do yourself a favor, wouldja?  Put on some sunscreen!  I’m certainly not one to advocate for staying out of the sun – it’s my favorite source of light after fire!

Thanks, and J Grundy!

Vectorial Elevation, Readers Edition

Like I promised, this post is a tribute to some of the Vectorial Elevation designs that were produced live in Vancouver, Canada over the last few months.  The Vectorial Elevation interface is still alive and kicking, so go create your design and post a link to your work in the comments!

Virtualizations are on the left side, real world image on the right.  Here’s a time-lapse video of the Vectorial Elevation from relatively close, courtesy of the TourTechTV blog:

Alex Weisman from Salt Lake City, UT:

Nick Malczewsky from Buffalo, NY:

2Henchmen from Duluth, MN:

Boyd Design from Bridgeport, CT:

Ryan Fischer from Boston, MA:

Jim Hagan from Washington, DC (and one dedicated to Scott Buford): Design 1

Excellent creativity, everybody!  What a great experience this has been.  A huge thanks to Rafael Lozano-Hemmer for creating this bit of excellence.

Late Night Article: The Leonid Meteor Shower is Tonight!


I just read that the Leonids will be visible tonight!

For those of you who are not major nerds like me, the Leonid meteor shower is a remnant from the comet Tempel-Tuttle – apparently way back in the mid 16th century a bunch of dust and ice got free of the nucleus of the Tempel-Tuttle comet, creating a band of essentially “comet garbage” to trail along it.  The article on this year’s shower gives a little history on the Leonid shower and its relation to the Tempel-Tuttle comet:

The Leonid meteors are debris shed into space by Comet Tempel-Tuttle, which swings through the inner solar system at intervals of 33.25 years, looping around the sun then heading back into the outskirts of the solar system. With each visit the comet leaves behind a trail of dust in its wake.

This cycle’s shower is supposed to be a bit above average – NASA scientists are predicting between 20 and 30 meteors per hour if you’re in the Americas.  Asia will have a better show this time, with between 250 and 350 meteors per hour.  It’s not gonna last long though, so get your meteor shower watching in around 1am PST (4am EST) for about 3 hours.  Let me know how it goes, because I am not gonna make the time!

(you see, I’ll be sleeping)

NASA posted a basic star map on where to look for Leonid streams:


These meteor showers have the potential to be huge – back in the 1830’s, the Leonids provided spectators with reports of meteor frequency of between 100,000 and 300,000 meteors an hour.  Can you imagine what that must have looked like?!

If you do stay up to see the Leonids tonight, enjoy the view!