art, 照明, effects, science

Twilight Gazing

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It happened that I have received a call this late afternoon, and unconsciously — as we all do — went out on the balcony carrying a cup of tea in one hand, my phone pressed to my ear by a shoulder. Suddenly I focused not on the conversation but on a colours of setting sun. I had to excuse myself and pretended something urgent had happened and promised to call back. I live in this building for several years now, and I have just realised that none of the sunsets I have been witnessing repeated themselves.

The Sun, in the meanwhile, was heading West and glass glazing was bidding a farewell to it with hues of orange, pink, lilac and blue, and aquamarine. Is there enough words in any vocabulary to label at least a million hues? Of course, not.

When original awe has gone, and I was able to function like a normal human being, I had returned the call, and inside the living room to my book. I have flipped the page to find an essay of Georgia Frances King, a Melbourne (Australia) borne, Brooklyn based editor for Kinfolk magazine. Her essay was on light. I dug a bit deeper in her writing, and found a piece “The Meaning of Light.” That inquisitive and so softly written feature led me to a discovery of Stephen Auger. Stephen is and artist and color theorist from Santa Fe, New Mexico. He holds as well degree in the Neurophysiology of Color Perception.

I won’t even dare to describe the artist’s technique, instead I will let critics do this. Here is what Diane Armitage says: “Auger’s paintings are shimmering veils of paint combined with impossibly tiny crystal spheres that range from 40 to 100 microns in diameter. The result is that each painting must be read not only in terms of its color and radiant light, by also by its surface topography. Working with the crystals embedded in oil-based pigments, Auger manipulates his canvases in such a way that the paint’s viscous properties allow for flowing, pooling, and a complex layering of materials that mimic sedimentation. And so his work is as much about topography and the forces of erosion as it is about the fugitive quality of light. No two angles of viewing a painting by Auger will produce the same chromatic effects, the same reflectivity.”

In his work, The Twilight Array, the artist collaborates with experts in neuroscience and special illumination to use square paintings made of particles emitting, reflecting and radiating a very special wavelength of light perceivable only at very low light levels. Scientists call this a mesopic vision. Artist’s idea is that a viewer shall experience the sensation of a twilight not as a fleeting but continuous sensation.

Have you ever bought yourself wishing that feeling never ended?

Source of a photo: artist’s website.

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art, effects, lighting

Artists of Light: Kuindzhi

Light fascinates. We reach for a phone, camera, canvas. Whatever the means, it results in awes. Photogenic light is an artist’s aide. The model that grows no older, knows no gender.

Arkhip Kuindzhi. Ukrainian Night. 1876. Oil on canvas. 79 x 162. The Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow, Russia.

Arkhip Kuindzhi. Ukrainian Night.
1876. Oil on canvas. 79 x 162. The Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow, Russia.

Arkhip Kuindzhi, 1842 – 1910, Russian painter, a member of Peredvizhniki movement. Was light a chemistry for him? Perhaps: rumour has it, he had some dealings with Mendeleev.

Arkhip Kuindzhi. Kind of the Isaac Cathedral at Moonlight Night. 1869. Oil on canvas. Smolensk State Museum-reserve, Smolensk, Russia.

Arkhip Kuindzhi.
Kind of the Isaac Cathedral at Moonlight Night.
1869. Oil on canvas. Smolensk State Museum-reserve, Smolensk, Russia.

Look at the water of the Neva river. Today it is so easy: a lens turns reflection into a binary code into instagram post, but recreate such a game from memory during laborious days of rubbing a point of a brush against the canvas?

Arkhip Kuindzhi. Moonlight Night on Dneper. 1880. Oil on paper. 105 x 144. The State Russian Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia.

Arkhip Kuindzhi. Moonlight Night on Dneper.
1880. Oil on paper. 105 x 144.
The State Russian Museum,
St. Petersburg, Russia.

Moonlight Night on Dneper makes me shiver. I swear. Lost for words… see you next post.

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architecture, 照明, design, effects, friends, interview, lighting

Calling of Light

Michel Zayat

We met with Michel Zayat, a prominent architect and artist, in a cosy art nouveau interior of Cafe Belge in DIFC to talk about architecture and light. Michel lives and works in Dubai, UAE, has an exciting history in his home Damascus, Syria. There together with his wife and a friend of his life, Salma, they run a famous designer store Yabe and Yamo. He taught arts and architecture at Damascus University, worked in Rome, Italy. Geography of Zayat’s projects is as vast as the Middle East: from UAE to Jordan, and to Saudi Arabia, and spread onto Algeria, North Africa. Michel’s father, Elias Zayat, is one of the most famous Syrian artists, and our conversation veers to paintings.

Nikita Che: “Is there a parallel between a light on a canvas, and in the panes of a building?”

Michel Zayat: “A painting emits light. Masterfully schemed onto the canvas, it pours out and captures the observer. He is caught! He is inside the plot. Remember Caravaggio ‘Calling of St. Matthew?’ No visible source of light, yet it penetrates the room and spills beyond the canvas. A candle, a shade on a protagonist’s face, a window, all play their role in shining the light from the painting.

Calling of St. Mathew, Caravaggio

Calling of St. Mathew, Caravaggio

“These elaborate techniques may as well be used in 3D spaces. Habitually we are all about lighting fixtures when we talk about light in architecture. Though arsenal of an architect is as wide as an artist’s. Colour, daylight, geometry and orientation of the room, shadows, you name it! How to get maximum light in a classroom, and decrease heat and glare? Locate it in the North of a building. “It is a pity that many architects and their clients have lost the sense of a daylight. We forgot how to make use of it, and all we do is fighting it.”

NC: “Any good examples?”

MZ: “Index Tower in Dubai is probably one of the few.”

NC: “What makes good artificial light?”

MZ: “Imagine a castle. Its dungeon would be lit with torches fixed on the walls of a passage. Scars dimmed light, barely enough for a poor prisoner to find his surroundings. Now fly up high to the tower where a beautiful princess reads romances, an elaborate chandelier with hundreds of candles lights her pages. Light follows the function of a room, and often creates this very function. Few of us now live in castles, but can easily turn their living room in a disco. A good architect, conscious about lighting matters would always give a client an option to select between layers of light.”

NC: “What is the role of a luminaire in this?”

MZ: “The choice is always dictated by client’s experience, his background, knowledge, vision. Unfortunately often it becomes shopping for clothes, and individual taste comes on the foreground. Like one is choosing a shirt.”

NC: “Can a lighting designer help?”

MZ: “I have never properly worked with a lighting designer. The nature of your projects defines the necessity to employ a designer. A hospital needs lighting designer, a school, a museum does. Hotel lobbies, restaurants are spaces where architects intuition sets the light. Occasionally lighting suppliers come into the picture and offer their scheme. I would not call it a good thing at all. A supplier would bring commercial note into the selection.”

NC: “Have you designed your own luminaires?”

MZ: “I have! Creating a lighting fixture is a sculpture for me. Light then becomes a material, like steel, marble, mother pearl. One object is especially dear for me — Corn. It is from my childhood, when street merchants used to sell corn from an immense wide halleh dara, a shallow pot. Made of thick copper, and sanded and fumed from inside to rid off toxic corrosion, the pot was always heated by fire and kept the water hot. It took one large ball of copper and a patient craftsman with a hammer to make such a flat large object.

Zayat's Corn at Yabe and Yamo, Damascus

Zayat’s Corn at Yabe and Yamo, Damascus

“My Corns were not that thick and we painted them pink, white and black from inside. The idea was to bring light in memories. One day you will see them in Dubai.”

NC: “Which materials do you use?”

MZ: “My favorite trinity: wood, metal and plastic. Plastic is a modern boisterous antagonist of the former two. They have been around for centuries, and then came plastic and disrupted.”

NC: “What is the light source you used in your luminaires?”

MZ: “I love that simple bulb in the middle of the a fixture. It becomes a focal point. That bulb and a socket base, a machine that transforms the power of electricity into light. The bulb is a simple and genius invention.”

“A candle lights a room, a bulb lights a room, everything extra is non essential. Nothing could replace an incandescent lamp, and it is such a shame it is banned now. I ask myself: a generation that would grow without the bulb, which symbol would they use when a bright idea strikes them!?” (laughs)

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照明, design, effects, science

A stretching synthetic opal. Expect it soon

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Material that changes color when stretched. We have already posted about the lab in Cambridge (http://www.np.phy.cam.ac.uk/research-themes/polymer-opals) that plays with nanotechnology, and would like to talk a bit more on their particular inventions. 

Iridescent colors are achieved through zillions of sub-micron shells arranged into a crystal structures. Although synthetic opals have been fabricated in the lab for over two decades, the samples are brittle and aren’t suited for mass market applications.

The lab has come up with making crystals from spheres that have a soft outer shell, sort of a chewing-gum. A real advance is that they can make these photonic crystals by standard plastic manufacturing techniques. They are flexible, making them some of the most durable opalescent materials available, and they are suited for mass production and incorporation into consumer items.

We can see these polymers used widely in interior decoration and fabrication of furniture and lighting. What would you use them for?

Originally posted on Light Intelligence Facebook Page in Jan 2014

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chemistry, effects, lighting, science

Excuse Me, Have I Just Drunk From a Red or Green Cup?

Photo courtesy of the source web-site

Photo courtesy of the source web-site

ROME, 4th Century A.C., an entertaining souvenir or a probe for royal poisons? This way or another, a Lycurgus cup remained a secret for scientist until the last decade of the 20th century. This chalice changes color: from green if lit from the front and scarlet if lit from behind. Craftsmen in Rome have grounded silver and gold till they got a nano-particle, a thousandth of a grain of a table salt!
Particles were then added to glass. Here is an explanation of Gang Logan Liu, an engineer of University of Illinois: “When hit with light, electrons belonging to the metal flecks vibrate in ways that alter the color depending on the observer’s position. When various fluids filled the cup, Liu suspected, they would change how the vibrating electrons in the glass interacted, and thus the color.”
Drinks, anyone?

Full article can be found on The Smithsonian Magazine website.

Originally posted on Lightintelligence.blogspot.com in November 2013

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