What attracts us to light?

Perth, 28th February 2011

Over the weekend I wrote my column for the upcoming issue of Lighting Today magazine and I thought of sharing parts of it. The subject of my column was triggered by one of the main cover stories about the new light shows coming up in Marina Bay, Singapore. So I thought, what is it that attracts us to light? We look in wonder to fireworks, we awe at light shows or beautiful colored lights. I have been in the lighting business for 30 years now and have seen the technology grow from incandescent lighting to the multi dynamic LED screens, but our attraction to light remains un-wavered.

It’s this wow factor that is at the base of all our attraction to light I believe. This wonder about how these visual effects are created. Specifically because light is something untouchable, elusive. The magic is compounded because we can’t just grab light with our hands or physically touch it! We actually don’t really see light! We see light when we actually look straight into the light source but otherwise we only see reflections. So part of what creates magic is that reflection of surfaces that changes all the time depending on the direction of the light, your angle of viewing, the material structure and colour and so on.

It is therefore not surprising that light as a spectacle is a growing phenomenon. Sound and light shows have been around for ages and their ability to transform buildings and landscapes into magical visual settings has treated many. But with lighting technologies evolving at break neck speed it has opened opportunities with visual effects never thought possible before. Projection techniques, LED screens, lasers and most of all computer technology and wireless technologies have made light shows such as the Hong Kong Harbour show possible. 

As I was writing the blog a thunderstorm unleashed over Perth. Trees were uprooted, some areas temporarily flooded and as night fell, parts of the city were without light as falling trees and lightning disrupted power in several areas.  In Light Watch today I pay respect to the forces of nature. 


Light Watch 41: Lightning over Perth

28. February 2011 by Martin Klaasen
Categories: light watch, lighting and culture | Leave a comment

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