Singapore 22nd October 2010
As lighting designers we want to be creative and find new solutions and ideas for every new project. At least we start out that way and are always in the hope and search to create that unique lighting design or lighting effect that will set the project apart. We do the whole tour of all the possible concepts, develop new ideas in the process only to come crashing down to earth as reality (and budget) dictates that there is not much room for day dreaming.
I am triggered by this subject today as our artwork in Marina Bay is a really nice concept with all the makings of a great project, but technical hitches, budget limitations and some failing equipment (which we are rushing to replace) has dampened our initial joy. Another lesson learned. When I designed the system I thought of using off the shelf product with the idea that they had proven their quality with their track record. However we redefined the usage (on water!) and reprogrammed the lighting effects (from a 1 pixel to a 16 pixel mode). We also added a far more sophisticated control system (Grand MA) as well as a video camera driven people tracking system. Each individual system had a proven track record but the combined system was totally new and never tested before (except the last day before the opening!).
My point for today is that in our business it is not only about creating beautiful lighting effects (whether in a permanent architectural installation or a temporary artwork situation), but also about durability and reliability. What is the point if it only works on opening night, right? Lighting performance is as much about the effects as about the repeatability of the lighting effects, day in day out. Hence the quality of the lighting installation has to extend all the way from the power supply, through cabling, control systems and fixing to the actual light fittings. Only when all the components are 100% do we achieve a reliable quality installation that is there to stay. Proven concepts with high standard components and system compatibility are therefore key and as much as we want to experiment, innovate and create new things, we need to assure ourselves that these criteria are met.