Singapore, 4th August 2014
Really when you think about it lighting designers are manipulators…our task is to control and manipulate light into a shape and form that makes sense and produces a performance that is the right light at the right place. You can of course argue high and low about what is “right”. In a measurable sense right is probably related to lighting standards, lighting levels that are needed and have been agreed to as being “right” to properly execute visual task with ease and comfort. To that extent we use lighting calculation programs with manufacturers’ photometric data, to establish whether we have enough light where we needed it. While you may not think this is manipulation, lighting designers are known at times to “manipulate” the calculations in such way that the outcome complies to the desired result, because really no one will see the difference between say 92 lux and 105 lux. So a more than 100 lux average on a calculation sheet when 100 lux is the minimum standard to comply with, of course satisfies those assessing the lighting design. And if later on site lighting measurements show insufficient light, there are hundreds of other reasons that can be listed as the cause. Of course this manipulation only makes sense when it comes to minimal differences and calculations are a real good tool to see how “right” your design is.
A part which is much more sophisticated and requires much more experience when it comes to manipulation is the 3-dimensional effect of light. Calculation are generally 2-dimensional and don’t give you the visual feedback on what light does in space. Light has volume and hence when projected on to a horizontal surface (think down light for instance) may be intercepted by vertical surfaces on the way down. Classic examples are unwanted scallops on bulkheads, walls and so on, As a result lighting design has to include the manipulation of those lighting beams to harmonise with the architecture and be aligned with artwork. There is more manipulating then you think when it comes to lighting design…I enjoyed manipulating light today…
Light watch 5-128: There is manipulating light in terms of space but there is also manipulating light in terms of technology!