Plotting the Path of Light: From the burning Ebers of a Camp Fire to the Glow of the Smartphone
And there was Light!
Sunlight has been around since the creation of our planet. Apart from heating the atmosphere, it’s essential in all we do. Allthough we frequently complain about light pollution, we can’t imagine living in complete darkness. ‘Lost in Light‘ – how light pollution affects the nightly sky – was a movie I wrote about earlier. Watch it, it’s amazing!
Shaped by Light
Have you ever thought about how light shaped human being over time? The short animation film on top of this blogpost helps you to understand the path of light over centuries. From the burning ebers of a campfire towards a lighthouse beacon and the articifial light glow of a smartphone. Join us on this history of light!
“Windlicht” is an artwork by Studio Roosegaarde showing the beauty of green energy. By means of special software and tracking technology, the windmill blades are detected to rotate at 280 km / hour. Straight green lines of LED light are connecting the blades of the individual windmills. It creates a dynamic play of light and movement.
Linking Light and Landscape
With Windlight, Roosegaarde intends to create the missing link between the Dutch and the beauty of our new landscape. I appreciate this project very much because of its awareness generating power to the crowd. The majority of local citizens may complain for years, see these ‘giants’ as a thorn in the flesh, call it horizon pollution. But times are changing, this next generation 21st century windmills are amidst us and part of our next generations life. While struggle about finding appreciated locations at sea goes on, the need and urgency of renewable energy keeps growing. Windlight can be experienced for free on the Eneco windfarm at Sint Annaland in Zeeland, Netherlands.
Waterlicht on Display in Middelburg, Zeeland, NL
By the way, I heard that the City of Middelburg invited Studio Roosegaarde to illuminate the celebration of 800 years Middelburg City in 2017 by means of it’s Waterlicht installation, an earlier success story of this amazing studio. If you ask me, there’s no more important area in all Western-Europe for raising water flood awareness… Curious to see how that works out!
If you want to learn a bit more on this wonderful area, please refer to the ‘About‘ page of this blog, there’s an impressive movie embedded on this particular area.
HOW DOES LIGHT POLLUTION AFFECT THE NIGHTLY SKY AND OUR LIVES?
‘Lost in Light’ is a short film on how light pollution affects the view of the night skies. Shot by Sriram Murali, most shots were taken in California, USA. The movie shows how the view gets progressively better as you move away from the artificial lights.
Finding locations to shoot at every level of light pollution ‘s been quite a challenge for the videographer and getting to the darkest skies with no pollution was a journey on its own.
The night skies remind us of our place in the universe. Imagine if we live under skies full of stars as a tiny part of the cosmos. Imagine kids growing up passionate about astronomy looking for answers.
In reality, most of us live under heavily light polluted skies and some have never even seen the Milky Way. We take the skies for granted and are rather lost in our busy lives without much care for the view of the stars.
Take a moment to ‘break out’ and lose yourself in this wonderful movie!
It may sound lightyears ahead, but in the near future, bioluminescent trees could easily replace Street Lights. Or would it be the road itself lighting the way? Bioluminescence, the ability of small organisms to behave like living night-lights, could lead to some remarkable advances in the public space. Here are some of the greatest examples we’ve ever seen!
Bioluminescence – The Invention
Bioluminescence was “invented” dozens of times in evolutionary history. Scientists may now be able to explain not only why certain mushrooms glow in the dark, but they are nearer to create glowing trees as a novel form of street lighting.
Swapping streetlights with giant light-emitting plants or trees using biomimicry techniques by Daan Roosegaarde.
Daan Roosegaarde – Lighting the Way
Dutch designer Daan Roosegaarde – known from astonishing projects such as ‘Waterlight‘ and ‘Rainbow Station‘, among many others – is hoping to employ biomimicry to transform your average street-side trees into beacons of light. Like the luminescent abilities of jellyfish, mushrooms or fireflies, splicing DNA from luminescent marine bacteria would open a world of opportunities!
Glow in the Dark
Naturalists in the early 19th century identified fungal growth as the source of the glow from wooden support beams used to shore up mines. Many fungi and mushrooms are now known to glow in the dark, and explanations for why they do it range from it being a useless by-product of metabolism to a sophisticated anti-predator adaptation. The best explanation seems to be that the night-light attracts insects and other animals to the fruiting bodies of fungi, who then spread the spores far and wide.
Glowing ‘Van Gogh Bicycle Path’ by Daan Roosegaarde
Fireflies are likely the best known example of bioluminescence in nature. The insect controls the light it emits from its light organ by adding oxygen to a mix of other chemicals involved in the light-emitting reaction. As larvae, the light acts as a warning to predators that they don’t taste very nice, and as adults the light is used to identify members of the same species and to attract the opposite sex.
Bioluminescence – The Future!
I am thrilled to see how bioluminescent technology finds its way in various in- and outdoor applications and how it contributes to a safer world! I am sure this is just the beginning of many more to come!
“Lustre: The Way Light interacts with the Surface of a Crystal, a Rock, or a Mineral”.
The word ‘Lustre’ (also referred to as ‘Luster’) traces its origins back to the latin word ‘lux’, meaning “light”. Generally, it implies a radiance, gloss, or sparking brilliance appearance of an object lit by day- or artificial light.
A variety of terms are used to describe this sparkling light effect, such as earthy, metallic, greasy, and silky. Similarly, the term ‘vitreous’ (derived again from Latin, here from the word glass, vitrum) refers to a ‘glassy lustre’ as we display it here.
Lustre varies over a wide continuum, and so there are no rigid boundaries between the different types of lustre.
The terms are frequently combined to describe intermediate types of lustre.
It liturally became my passion to mess around with RGB LED light units and transparent items, such as optics or, like in this case balls of broken crystal glass to optimize the lustre effect. Exciting to see what happens!
Remember watching fireflies light up your back yard on hot summer nights? Fireflies are beautiful, mysterious, and magical. Firefly populations are dwindling all over the world. Here’s a small post on these magical creatures – the most efficient lights in the world!
Fireflies Talk: the Language of Light
Fireflies emit light mostly to attract mates, although they also communicate for other reasons as well, such as to defend territory and warn predators away. In some firefly species, only one sex lights up. Howeer, in most situations the both sexes glow. Very often the male will fly, while females will wait in trees and grasses to spot an attractive male. If she finds one, she’ll signal it with a flash of her own.
Scientists believe they may flash to drive away predators, claim territory, and communicate with others of their species as well—although the finer points of their language have never been studied extensively. One thing’s for sure, though: without those flashing lights, there could be no fireflies.
Fireflies produce “cold light”
Firefly lights are the most efficient lights in the world—100% of the energy is emitted as light. Compare that to an incandescent bulb, which emits 10% of its energy as light and the rest as heat, or a fluorescent bulb, which emits 90% of its energy as light. Because it produces no heat, scientists refer to firefly lights as “cold lights.”
Fireflies – How does it Work?
In a firefly’s tail, you’ll find two chemicals: luciferase and luciferin. Luciferin is heat resistant, and it glows under the right conditions. Luciferase is an enzyme that triggers light emission. ATP, a chemical within the firefly’s body, converts to energy and initiates the glow. All living things, not just fireflies, contain ATP.
Fireflies have a short ‘Lifespan’
To stay a bit in ‘the language of light’: the lifespan of fireflies isn’t that long as you may expect. Although being very low consumers of energy with a high eficacy, an adult firefly lives only long enough to mate and lay eggs—so they may not need to eat during their adult life stage. The larvae usually live for approximately one year, from mating season to mating season, before becoming adults and giving birth to the next generation.
Fireflies – what’s more?
There’s certainly many more to say about these intriguing creatures, but let’s finish with a great movie with night and day timelapses and some references. Enjoy!
TANGENT DESIGN’S KIHOU LIGHTS USE LIQUIDS AND AIR BUBBLES TO CREATE EXTRAORDINART LIGHT PLAY
‘KIHOU’ is a quite extraordinary, impressive indirect lighting product using two kinds of liquid and air bubbles. A ceramic bowl is filled with sticky liquid and a thin layer of black silicone oil floats on top. A small pump and LEDs are embedded in the bottom of the bowl, making luminous bubbles rise to the surface from the black liquid.
The indirect lighting product uses two kinds of liquid and air bubbles to realize an effervescent effect of pulsating golden bulbs. The rhythm of bubbles, the unexpected noise, stickiness of the liquid and lightness of the oil, and the mysterious contrast between the golden light and black surface all breathe life into this small cube, sublimating it into a product that people can feel an affinity with.
Tangent Design Studio
Tangent Design is known for developing unconventional illumination systems, creating ambient environments that result in sublime experiences as evidenced in this recent work ‘Kihou’.
Video and pictures are courtesy of tangent design.
Virtual Flood by Studio Roosegaarde at Museumplein Amsterdam Raises Water Awareness
Experience the Vulnerability of Water
Following the Artist Daan Roosegaarde latest installation “Waterlight” in Westervoort back in February, Studio Roosegaarde lets the visitor experience the almost forgotten power and vulnerability of water again. This time, the Museumplein in Amsterdam is hosting a 3-day public light art event to raise water awareness end emphasise the beauty and power of light.
As a virtual flood, Waterlight shows how high the water could reach without human intervention.
8 Acres of Inner Amsterdam Flooded
Located in the inner city of Amsterdam, Museumplein is an 8 acre square located in the inner city of Amsterdam that has been virtually placed underwater through the use wavy lines of light. Like the ‘Rainbow Station‘ project at Amsterdam Central Station by the end of 2014, ‘Waterlight’ is realized by implementing the latest LED technology, enabling software and lighting optics.
Public Access and Openings
“Waterlight by Roosegaarde” is open to the public and can be experienced from May 11 – 13th between 22:00 and 00:00 at the Museumplein in Amsterdam.
WATERLICHT is the dream landscape about the power and poetry of water. As a virtual flood, it shows how high the water could reach without human intervention. Innovation is within the DNA of the Dutch landscape via its waterworks and creative thinking, yet we’ve almost seem to forgotten this. WATERLICHT is a powerful and poetic experience to remember.
WATERLICHT consists of wavy lines of light made with the latest LED technology, software and optics. First created for the Dutch Waterboard Rijn & IJssel in Westervoort, the artwork has now travelled to Museumplein Amsterdam.
Light by Living Organism. It may seem magical, and it is!
A mystical sight – but what you see is true: a long stretch of a beach covered by billions of luminous blue dots. The seemingly magical imagery is actually anything but it is caused by bioluminescent phytoplankton.
Glowing like Fireflies
The tiny Plankton organisms glow like fireflies whenever they are stressed or otherwise agitated by surface tension and acidity. usually, bioluminescence is only produced in warm coastal waters. This happens commonly in some of the beaches in the Maldives and San Diego, where most the pictures and movie shots in this post are taken.
Emitting Light when Stressed
The surreal appearance of the beach is actually down to a massive tide of bioluminescent phytoplankton called Lingulodinium polyedrum. The tiny organisms emit light when stressed, be it by the lapping of waves, the carving action of a surf board or other, creating what looks like a network of stars.
Bioluminescence – The Phenomenon
Bioluminescence is the production and emission of light by a living organism. Bioluminescence is a form of luminescence, or “cold light” emission by living organisms. A similar luciferase is used in other bioluminescence species such as fireflies, a few beetles, some bacteria, as well as other dinoflagellates. Less than 20% of the light generates thermal radiation.
Bioluminescence – The Function
The function of bioluminescence in has been hypothesized to be a form of communication between each of the organisms. Early work suggested it might serve as a warning system of sheer forces of near by preditors, more recent work suggests it might play a role in maintaining and synchronizing circadian rhythm (internal cell clock, for keeping track of cell cycle).
Hope you got as impressed as I am. Once, I hope to see this intriguing phenomenon live on stage!
Roosegaarde presents another great work of art in “the Northern Light of the Netherlands”
By the end of February, 2015 Westervoort hosted the world premiere of ‘Waterlight‘. The latest artwork by Daan Roosegaarde is described by first visitors as the “the Northern Light of the Netherlands”.
From February 26 to March 1st, visitors could experience Waterlight in the flood channel of the river IJssel near Westervoort. Waterlight reveals the invisible artworks of the Netherlands, and will appear throughout the Netherlands in the coming years.
‘Waterlight’ by Studio Roosegaarde – Open field experience under night sky.
Waterlight is the result of a collaboration between Studio Roosegaarde and the Dutch water board Rhine and IJssel. “A combination of awareness and a dreamscape. By adding – aside from the latest LED-technology – experience and perception, we create a virtual flood.” says Daan Roosegaarde.
“Not our dykes, but our water consciousness is the weak spot in our flood protection”
The artwork Waterlight consists of wavy lines of light across an area of over 4 acres. Walking on the dike the light lines are perceived as high water, once in the flood channel you find yourself in an underwater world. The water boards are pleased with Waterlight.
‘Waterlight’ by Studio Roosegaarde – Fictive flood level hitting the Rhine and IJssel dikes.
“In Waterlight people experience what the Netherlands would look like without their dykes” says Hein Pieper, chairman of water board Rhine and IJssel. “Awareness is crucial, because the Dutch (water)artworks need every day maintenance and our national water awareness is the foundation of that maintenance.”
Dutch water works are unparalleled by any other country, but the water awareness leaves a great deal to be desired!