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Andika Pradana’s Skansen Visit Video – Blast from My Swedish Past!

Ah, Andika!  Your video really made me miss you guys, all of you!  Please share a hug from me to everybody that was there, because this video warmed up my heart for the whole day.  Thanks, brother!

So, JimOnLight.com Community, this video below was taken by Andika Pradana (an amazing photographer/videographer who has lots of imagery on Flickr, Facebook, and Vimeo) when I was in Stockholm at KTH in the fall.  Andika is in a group of photographers that I consider a Master of Captured Lumens – the man can capture light among the best.

Skansen is “the first open air museum and zoo in Sweden and is located on the island Djurgården in Stockholm, Sweden. It was founded in 1891 by Artur Hazelius (1833-1901) to show the way of life in the different parts of Sweden before the industrial era.”  It’s a pretty cool place – there were some amazing views of the harbor, Stockholm, and the architecture around the city from that island.  I have tons of pictures from my travels to that place, I just have to get unbusy for a weekend to sort them!

My KTH class was there observing some of the period structures and how people in those era (1750’s-1850’s) dealt with daylight and available light.  We did a lot of sketching in a particular structure assigned by group, and then compared our work to create a 3D representation of the “feeling” of the light in the room.  I’ll post pictures of that too, it was quite fun – myself, lovely Valeria Mirarchi, and everybody’s pal, Jonas Godehart.  You two are going to be working lighting designers soon, I am so proud of you!

Okay, enough rambling.  Check out Andika’s video!  He did a great job of capturing the entire project from start to finish:

Skansen (Daylighting Observation) from Andika Pradana on Vimeo.

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

Bye, Sweden!

shadow_skansen_jimonlight

Well, I’ve made a huge decision over the last few weeks.  I’ve decided to leave the KTH program and head back home to the United States to continue working on my design firm, Alive Lighting, and to keep writing JimOnLight.com full time.  It has been a great two months, and I have made so many great new friends that I will have forever – the relationships I made here in Sweden have enriched my life so much, and I will miss these people very much.

I’ve decided to leave the program at KTH because I don’t believe I’m being challenged.  Unfortunately, I don’t feel the education is advancing my academic and professional goals.  I’m not happy with that and, since this was a huge expense and commitment, I had to decide if staying for another eight months would pay off for me.  I’m very glad that I checked it out and am grateful for the opportunity to have done so.

I am so grateful for meeting the professors, seeing the beautiful Haninge KTH campus (which I’ll be posting some pictures of in coming weeks), and Stockholm is stunning.  I have new friends.  It’s been a great journey.  I can’t thank my lovely wife enough for her support, and all of the JimOnLight readers and Tweeters for their daily interaction.  It’s made me feel like home!

As of Thursday, I will be available for lighting design and consulting, and continuing to write JimOnLight every day.

The Lighting Machine Project – “Happy Umbrella” at KTH

happy-umbrella-lighting-machine

Our class just finished the first module of study and our first major lighting project here at Kungliga Tekniska Högskolan in Sweden.  Our first module of classes has just finished – an introduction of sorts to the world of light and lighting and a good way to bring everyone in the program to a level playing ground, so to speak.  There is a huge range of backgrounds in our class, and the instructors have done  a great job providing information to level the field.

The first project, called the Lighting Machine project, was the culmination of a week-long seminar on working with Dutch designer Willem Van Der Sluis.  Willem was in residence with us for a week, mentoring us through this project along with faculty professor Diana Joels.  Willem gave us a great lecture on working with light and an in-depth look into a few of his projects.  I’ll be chronicling some of Willem’s work in a post later this week.

The basic principles of Lighting Machine was that each group was to create a full-scale lighting machine that focused on the distribution of light rather than on the beauty and form of the machine itself.  We were to analyze our campus building for places we felt had illumination problems, and create this lighting machine to aid in the solution of this problem.  I created a video to describe our project and problem, but we took a positive outlook on the “problem.”  On the lowest level of our building there is a hallway full of patio umbrellas that are lit with low temperature (around 2700 degrees Kelvin) fluorescent lighting.  It’s a place where people hang out all day at different times during the day, and we sought to make it more happy.  Hence, our group and lighting machine was called “Happy Umbrella.”  Check out a few pictures of the space and of the building:

kth-haninge-umbrellas

kth-haninge-umbrellas

Lighting Machine was an interesting project on many levels.  First, we were assigned into groups of four people, each with a different background – architecture, interior design, lighting design, electrical engineering, you name it.  The program is being administered in English, but there is a wide variety of comprehension of the English language.  The language barrier makes communication interesting.  Drawings and sketches – visual communication – sometimes take the place of verbal communication in these situations.  We chose a handful of locations with what we perceived as problems, and came to a consensus as to which project we all liked – which ended up being the umbrella location project.  In the creation of the lighting machine, we were also given the choice of two light sources – a 50W T5 circular fluorescent, or a 40W halogen PAR20.  We chose to use both.

A long story short, we decided to provide the location with a feel of nature – the umbrella representative of a tree with a pattern, and the table with better illumination and contrast, as the overhead fluorescents provided next to none.  We invented an optical projector with a homemade template out of miscellaneous pieces and parts of reflectors and lenses, and a wash-type unit from the fluorescent.  Happy Umbrella also incorporated both the umbrella and the table as part of the product.

I’ve embedded two videos below – the first is an overview of the project (about seven minutes long), and the second is a quick explanation of the projector for the class.  These videos were something I made for the heck of it, just for the blog.  I did use the projector explanation video in the presentation of the Lighting Machine as a way to help explain how a projector works.

Project Overview:

Projector Explanation Video:

Happy Umbrella from below:

happy-umbrella-lighting-machine2

Vesa Honkonen’s Lecture at KTH

vesa-honkonen

Last Thursday I was in attendance at a lecture given by Vesa Honkonen, an architect and lighting designer in Finland – Vesa came to KTH Haninge and gave a lecture on several topics, including art and the commercialization of design.  He was gracious enough to talk to us about several of his projects in recent past, and show us his process – including process sketches, notes, and images of projects in various stages of completion.

I have to admit that this lecture blew my mind open into little nondescript pieces.  We hadn’t started classes yet (we officially started lectures for the first course module last Monday), so it was an incredible start to our program.

The lecture was fantastic, I cannot say that enough – Vesa talked about many topics, but there were two that really rattled the inside of my cranium.  As lighting designers across the world in our respective industries we must consider what is mainstream and what is avant garde.  As ideas and designs that are new and different propagate in the industry and all around us, they’re considered avant garde.  This idea isn’t limited to any industry – it’s about art, design, and anything else subjective.  For example – my wife does amazing things with cascading style sheet programming, and I always consider her ideas and her understanding to be so far above the mainstream thinking that it amazes me every time she tells me about her projects.  At what point does her thinking about CSS become how everyone thinks?  At some point in every industry, in art, and in design, the mainstream thinking is replaced by what was once considered edgy, different, and not mainstream.

Thinking outside of the mainstream and going against the flow is how we progress.  This is not to say that everything mainstream is crap and that we have to find new solutions for everything in existence, but when you create, create.  Do what is best for the solution in your eyes, even if it is different than everything else you see.

This is a small bit of how the whole afternoon lecture with Vesa went – it was great.

He also told a story about Evert Lundquist, a painter and etcher from Sweden.  One day a poor engineer friend of Evert’s discovered him sitting in the dark, alone, in his studio.  The poor engineer friend had come by to visit Evert, and was curious as to why he was sitting alone.  The friend asked Evert, “why are you sitting alone in the dark?”

Evert replied, “I am simply waiting for the light.”

Thank you for your wonderful lecture, Vesa.  Please visit Vesa’s website, Vesa Honkonen Architects – His work is riveting.

Jim On Sweden – Been Here A Week, All Is Good

haninge_clouds1

I’ve been here in Haninge about a week, and I am getting a little more acclimated to the way that living here might go.  The city of Stockholm is beautiful – more beautiful than it has ever appeared in pictures I’ve seen – and the town of Haninge (where I am living) is less than beautiful.  I’ve found places here to shop for groceries (Coop and ICA), and I found a store that is a lot like a Big Lots (Oob) – comparatively, everything is a little more expensive than back home, especially red meat and chicken.  I was surprised to see that even salmon is a bit more expensive here, but crawfish and shrimps are much cheaper than in the United States.

I am meeting so many great people here – my dorm mates are from Iran, Sweden, Russia, Brazil, Mexico, India, Canada, Sri Lanka, France, China, Thailand, Chile, and a fellow American.  The kitchen is the most excellent place to converse, and it seems like every time I go in there, I leave after having some kind of great discussion.  This weekend I went in for coffee, and left 45 minutes later after talking about OLEDs.

One of the weirdest things that I have noticed is that my listening skills have exponentially grown in a matter of days – having people from so many different countries with so many different inflections on English is one of the most wonderful experiences I have ever had with people.

I enjoy traveling with people to common places like the grocery and the city, and I am sure that we’ll be traveling in groups to other countries and cities around Sweden.  I’ve had my camera in my bag nearly everywhere I’ve gone so far, and I probably look like a tourist white guy, but I could care less.  This country is beautiful, and these people I am spending time with and getting ready to learn with are great.

Some things I’ve learned in the last week:

  • red meat is expensive here.
  • in Russian, you say “kind morning” instead of “good morning”
  • people in several languages say “pardon my French” before they swear
  • yogurt is not sweet everywhere
  • I have muscles in my legs and back that haven’t had exercise in years from walking so much
  • public transit is awesome

Anyone interested in seeing some pics?  I’m uploading everything to my Flickr account, and I’ll be posting random images here and there on the blog.  Check out these latest pics:

Waiting on the bus back from ICA grocery – we missed the first one…

waiting_haninge

Our group at the flagship Ikea!  Francisca, Kunal, me, Tatiana, Uthayan, Saghi, and Orquidea:

trip to ikea

Me, Tatiana, Francisca, and Kunal waiting for Saghi and Orquidea to get to the train station back to Haninge:

waiting at Ikea station

A sight we don’t often see in Dallas:

SL train

Ikea and flags – the only difference between American Ikea and Swedish Ikea is language:

Ikea flagship

This one is for my dad – everywhere I go, I take a picture of my feet in that country:

sweden_feet

What An Awesome Day – Stockholm ROCKS!

On Thursday afternoon I went to a Stockholm walking tour/city rally thing with some international students.  In addition to getting to see a whole bunch of Stockholm, I met several new friends – Ahmed from Egypt, Mohammad from Iran, Kate from Austria, Jamie from Boston, Fernando from Brazil, Andreas from Sweden, and Reza from Iran.  We seemed to be the spry bunch, and after about 3/4 the way through the city walk, we decided to get lunch and a beer (which was nine bucks, by the way – damn):

stockholmgroup1

Hands down, it was an amazing day.  At some point, I am going to get out at night and take some long exposure shots of Stockholm – that will be amazing!  Check out some photos from my day, if you’re interested – just a few, I took hundreds:

Where I’m living this year:

stockholmhousing

Stockholm Central train station:

stockholmcentral

KTH Main Campus library:

kthmainlibrary

Walking in Stockholm:

stockholm_downtown

The Royal Theatre:

royaltheatre

Walking along the water:

stockholm_shore

Fountain above the train station – you walk underneath this thing!

stockholm_station

I’m Going to Sweden for a Year!

I got some of the greatest news this week.  Back in December of 2008 I applied to Sweden’s KTH School for their Master’s of Architectural Lighting Design degree – I want another Master’s in another Lighting field.  I just found out this week that I’ve been accepted, and starting in mid-August I will be writing JimOnLight.com while studying in Sweden for a year!  The design shows, trade shows in neighboring countries, and an international perspective on light.  Jim, in Sweden, studying and blogging about light.

I am excited, nervous, and I have the coolest wife ever.

If you have any knowledge of living or studying in Sweden and wouldn’t mind pointing me in the right direction, please contact me – I would love some pointers.  There is an overwhelming amount of info to digest – housing is apparently quite the journey.  I’d love to live close to campus, preferably in campus housing.  Anything I find, I’ll post about, as I want to document the process as a whole – this is an exciting new venture!  Please post in the comments or contact me – I would love your pointers about living and studying in Sweden!