Discarded, disused or unfashionable furniture is thrown out on the kerb when we move out or on. It never lasts long, it becomes “rescued, recycled, repaired and reused”, given a new life when someone moves in or has an itch to update.
This kerbside exchange is coined the “Five Minute rule” ie. give it 5 minutes by the kerb and it will be gone. For Sydney Design Week, myself and Ben Baxter fêted this cultural phenomenon by collecting objects from the streets around our neighbourhood and turning them into a lighting installation.
In May, I gave a presentation to Lightfair International in Las Vegas on my research into LEDs and their application to the general lighting environment which I am doing as part of a PhD in design. Lightfair International is one of the largest lighting conference in the world with up to 20,000 delegates. The conference was amazing - the standard of speakers and research was intimidatingly high - a real learning experience. What can you say about Las Vegas itself? The atmosphere was surprisingly friendly and lots of people seemed to love being there. Not really my bag but quite fascinating for a few days. However, I did feel the need to connect with some sort of nature ( real rather than man made!) and took a helicopter flight over the Grand Canyon - quite an adventure.
I visited and exhibition of my favourite artist , Fred Williams on the weekend. Some of the paintings were based on a post-bushfire scenario and you could almost smell the eucalyptus burning they were so evocative. I love the way he treats the Australia bush as texture rather than form - his work is abstract yet highly suggestive of a certain type of landscape. When I look at his work I can almost hear the cicadas sing and feel the sun on my back.
At dusk, Sydney’s Fruit Bats create a cloud of black winged creatures as they migrate across the city; they are one of the last indigenous creatures left in the heart of the C.B.D.
Ben Baxter, Trent Middleton and I collaborated on " A Cloud of Bats" , an outdoor lighting installation for the Lightwalk - a walk of 25 lighting installations that went from the Opera House around to the historic area of the Rocks on the foreshores of Sydney Harbour. Our installation evoked memories of the nightly bat migration that has existed in areas of Australia for thousands of years, while the sandstone reminds us of the amazing natural landscape on which Sydney exists.
Our fruit bats are now a vulnerable species but they can be legally shot for eating fruit from orchards. The use of proper orchard netting would make this killing unnecessary but netting can be costly and time consuming to install.
Our installation used this orchard netting to support our bat cloud as it flies up to Observatory Hill to feed on the fig trees. We use the colours of sunset ( created from Colourblast LED's) to wash across the magnificent sandstone wall to act as a fitting backdrop for these creatures of the night as they farewell the day.
I found working with Ben (artist/ designer) and Trent (architect) to be very enjoyable. Thanks to our lighting supplier Rick Cale from Xenian, structural engineer Harry Partridge and riggers Jeremy and Lea. Thanks to the Smartlight people for assistance and to all the people who visited the bats and gave us some great feedback. Photography by Sarah Smith.
Because a single candle creates a very small amount of light, our forebears became quite ingenious at methods of utilising candlelight to light interiors. In the 18th century in particular, candles were mounted in magnificent candelabra and chandeliers which amplified the light through lead crystal drops cut into prismatic shapes. These designs were based on the principles of reflection, refraction and diffusion which were first written about by Newton and Huygens around 1690.
This work is an exploration of the nature of the light from LED’s and it’s potential usage in lighting works. LED’s are considered the future of lighting due to their energy efficiency and longevity and are the focus of my ongoing research. I am using the organic form of the Isis sea fan as a motif as a connection between technology and natural forms.
I was recently asked to answer the question “Can the art of lighting design keep up with the science, or will creativity vanish and lighting design become the victim of its own technology?”
One could also ask if design ever kept up with technology when it comes to lighting. I have studied the history of lighting and with every new technology, it took some time for designers to really understand it and use it to the best advantage both aesthetically and practically.
I see this happening with LED lighting now. Despite the fact that standard incandescent lamps are being phased out here in Australia, the amount of real engagement with this technology is comparitively small both here and internationally. But why is this so?
LED lighting for commercial / domestic purposes is only a percentage of the total LED market (the figure of 30% was given to me recently). So lamp manufacturers make more money out of automotive and similar applications and there is a smaller incentive to develop this area.
There is also an issue that the solid-state industry itself is still developing. There is litigation on patents, uncertainty on standards and still some variation in the quality of LED supply.
However, more generally I think it is because new light sources are hard to understand. We evolved as a species with the sun (a burning object) as our main light source. Incandescent lamps are the closest proximity to this in terms of artificial lighting. So most luminaire designers, in particular, are either incapable or unwilling to learn about say, LED’s, and understand their particular properties. Design competitions and magazines still feature luminaires designed for conventional light sources.
I wonder if there is also a sense that designers design fittings like they were furniture – an emphasis on “ object “ type qualities such as form, material etc without any real understanding of the technology.