Posts from the ‘Events’ Category
April 10, 2013
Last night I had the privilege of visiting the New York City 9/11 Memorial site with the Designers’ Lighting Forum of New York (DLFNY) and the firm that designed the lighting for the memorial, Fisher Marantz Stone. This was my second visit, but my first time seeing the memorial after dark, and the experience was nothing short of awe-inspiring. I won’t go into the design behind the memorial, first, because it’s not my story to tell, and second, because it truly speaks for itself.
I will, however, share some of my photos from the visit, primarily for those of you that don’t live in New York and haven’t had a chance to see it in person. The progress that has been made at the site, and especially at One World Trade Center (center, below photo), is incredible. It is truly a place of peace, quiet, and reflection in the middle of one of the largest cities on the planet, and a fitting memorial to those who were lost on that day more than 11 years ago.
In honor of the arrival of Spring (at least according to the calendar, maybe not the thermometer), our office recently held a party for friends and family to debut an experimental installation we’ve been working on that immerses visitors in an ever-changing video environment.
As lighting and video become increasingly more intertwined in everything from theatrical design to architectural media facades to the mobile devices we carry around, this installation poses the question: what does it feel like to be immersed in an environment created entirely with video?
For this particular event, the video content was thematically related to Spring (flowers, nature, landscapes, etc.), but occasionally branched out into other areas such as panoramic cityscapes, abstract moving backgrounds, and projected architecture. I was responsible for finding and programming the video content using Dataton Watchout software.
The event, as expected, delivered many more questions than answers. For instance, it was fascinating to see the ebb and flow of guests in and out of the room as the “wallpaper” changed from static images to moving video; although, since we placed food in one room and drinks in the other, it was hard to tell if the movement of people was due to the video content or their need for liquid refreshment! Several of my coworkers and I tried to directly manipulate the movement of people by making the background of the room more, or less, attractive. While the results weren’t definitive it was certainly interesting to watch. Little did our guests know they would be subject to a sociological experiment at our party! (Insert villainous laugh here.)
A big thank you goes out to the friends and family who served as our “guinea pigs” for this trial event. We received a lot of helpful feedback, and we look forward to using what we’ve learned from this experience to continue to design beautiful and interesting environments. Here’s hoping our “Spring Fling” will bring some actual warm weather soon!
October 2, 2011
I ventured out into Brooklyn last night for the annual Nuit Blanche (“White Night”) NYC festival of light. Started last year in New York, the festival occurs on the same night as others in (mostly European) cities around the world, and brings together artists of all different flavors to light up the night in the industrial waterfront of Greenpoint, Brooklyn. This year’s turnout of artists and installations, unfortunately, wasn’t as strong as last year‘s (most likely due to rain early in the night), however, the attendance was just as enthusiastic.
What is great about this festival is its timing. Falling on the first day of October on the first chilly night of the season, it is the essence of Fall in New York City. The shadowy, mysterious atmosphere at the festival also serves as a great introduction to the Halloween season — wide-eyed kids run around with glow sticks in hand, the first hints of costumes start to appear, leaves crunch underfoot, and everything around you is just a little bit off.
October 4, 2010
Here’s a quick video tour from the first-ever NYC Nuit Blanche festival, set on the industrial waterfront of Greenpoint, Brooklyn. “Nuit Blanche,” literally meaning “white night” in French, is an annual all-night arts festival that has its roots in cities such at Paris, St. Petersburg, and Berlin, typically involving light as one of the main artistic mediums.
New York’s first festival, entitled “Bring to Light,” was well attended, turning the small neighborhood of Greenpoint into one large, open-air nighttime gallery. Neighboring craft and artist workshops opened their doors to the festival as well, providing venues for some of the larger light installations as well as a unique look into the local arts community. Most displays could be found outdoors, however, lining the closed-off streets (and engulfing a local playground).
The main attraction this year seemed to be projections, with over half of the displays involving a laptop computer and one to four projectors. Given the availability (and portability) of the technology, it wasn’t really a surprise to see, I just wished that there had been more exhibits utilizing other light sources, to give the festival some variety. In my opinion, one of the installations (shown in the video above) really transcended the technology and light source behind it to create a visually interesting, thought provoking display. I’ll let you guess which one it was!
I certainly hope the festival is revived again next year, but on an even larger scale. New York City has such a large artist (and lighting) community that an event like this could be ten times bigger if planned and advertised well in advance. After having had a chance to see the installations this year I might even consider displaying something next year! I could have brought my first studio project to display; it would have fit right in!
October 3, 2010
You’d think that as a student of lighting design that I live and work in the best possible lighting conditions every day, and that I don’t mind working for long periods of time because of my perfectly illuminated surroundings. That’s what I thought would happen too. Moving to New York, I thought to myself: no longer will I have to spend hours upon hours in a dark theatre for weeks at a time! I will finally be able to enjoy the sunlight and fresh air! Well, you can see where this is going.
I will say that I have made every effort to light my home environment as well as I possibly can, and I’m actually quite happy with it. The design studio I work in is also, for the most part, well lit. A problem arises, though, when those are the only two environments I see during the week, and I see no more daylight than the stagehands working on Broadway.
Needless to say, whenever I get a chance to get out of the design studio and explore the city, I jump at the chance!
On Friday night I got that chance, when the Illuminating Engineering Society of New York (IESNY) offered Parsons lighting students the chance to attend a tour of the American wing of the Met given by the lighting designer, Eileen Pierce of Renfro Design Group, in exchange for a bit of volunteer work checking people in at the event. Meet new people in the lighting industry and visit one of the top museums in the city? Yes, please!
Of course I did an excellent job doing so, although a few of my classmates and I thought that our sign needed to attract a bit more attention, so we quickly provided it with additional illumination. Next time we’re making a better sign, and you’d better believe it’ll light up like an airport runway!
Anyway, after I was relieved of my signpost duties the group of about forty of us divided into two, with half going to the bar first while the other half took the tour with Eileen. As luck would have it, I ended up at the bar first.
After a few laughs and some good conversation with some new (and some familiar) faces, and with everyone loosened up a bit, we finished our drinks and met with Eileen in the American Wing Courtyard.
For those that have never been, the American Wing Courtyard is an enormous six-story tall open indoor gallery space housing some of the larger sculptures, a few stained glass windows, and the complete facade of a Neo-Classical bank building. It’s an impressive space to say the least, and it was fascinating to hear Eileen speak about the challenges of lighting it.
One of the features she spoke of was how she accomplished lighting the new cafe space on the ground floor, which was created by the addition of an intermediary level of the gallery between the ground floor and the second (now third) level. Apparently, during the construction phase of that new level, workers hung a white sheet above the cafe to simulate the height of the new space for museum staffers. One day, while Eileen was visiting the site, the setting sun hit the sheet in such a way that it brilliantly lit up the cafe space below, and the idea stuck (or struck)! Now the ceiling of the cafe is illuminated with color-changing LEDs that match the colors of the sunlight throughout the day until sunset. Amazing how that works, isn’t it?
Another design challenge Eileen spoke of was how to light the many statues situated in the middle of the courtyard, with only five stories of air between them and the glazed ceiling. The solution for this challenge was actually quite interesting, as it involved a combination of architectural and theatrical gear. The fixtures most up to the task of the long throw turned out to be Very Narrow Spot (VNSP, for those in the theatre lingo) PAR64 fixtures, which aren’t all that uncommon in architectural settings. The real challenge was figuring out a place to hang them that was elevated enough to provide the appropriate lighting angles, but still accessible enough for the Met staff to relamp and refocus them. The solution came in the form of a truss system that can be lowered to the ground on electric winches so the staff can change lamps. How do they refocus the lights once they have returned to their lofty perch? Well, each fixture is mounted on an Apollo Right Arm, a DMX-controlled yoke (and common theatrical lighting accessory) that essentially turns each lamp into a moving light, controlled by an ETC theatrical lighting console. It was a simple solution for a very complex problem using primarily theatrical gear. I guess it’s not so bad to know something about theatre in this business after all! I’ll have to drop off my business card at the Met the next time I visit …
After the tour was over we had a chance to explore the galleries on our own, to see more of Eileen’s design firsthand. Personally, I could spend days there just wandering through everything, which I hope to do at some point in the future. Unfortunately we had to move quickly before the museum closed for the night. Here’s one fun room that I managed to discover a few minutes before closing: the open storage rooms!
If I had to pick one thing, I would say the most exciting part about the night was just getting to meet new people with similar interests and goals, sharing some drinks, fine art, architecture, and lighting. It was fascinating to listen and participate in the discussion that unfolded during the tour as well, because I could tell, from the form of their questions, that every other person in the room, regardless of their experience level or place of work, was just as passionate about lighting as I am — and that’s a very good sign. I’m very much looking forward to more events like this in the future; more chances to explore the city, to meet new people, and to learn what about lighting inspires them. I can reassure you, that’s never a boring conversation.
September 18, 2010
A seductively lit, high-end SoHo lighting showroom. Live music by a cellist and pianist on the balcony. Wine and cheese as far as the eye can see. An impromptu hip-hop shadow-dance performance piece. Hundreds of neatly-attired New York City lighting professionals. And the newest and youngest industry member in the room: me.
The Designer’s Lighting Forum of New York season-opening event this past Wednesday was my first formal introduction to the lighting scene in the city, and it was certainly one of the most surreal experiences I have ever had.
Why surreal? Well, as a new arrival to New York City and a new student three weeks into the graduate lighting design program at Parsons New School for Design, my mind was spinning as I walked into the room. I had suddenly fallen into an alternate universe where those high-profile New York parties that you hear and read about actually do exist.
I should probably preface my reactions with the fact that I am of a theatrical lighting background, principally from the Boston, MA theatre scene. Needless to say, there is nothing in my experience that even remotely compared to the DLFNY event. It was obvious, from the minute I entered the room, that this industry, in this city, was on a whole other level.
Part of the trepidation and awe I felt when I entered the room I attribute to the fact that I was the only one of my 20 first-year classmates who planned ahead enough (our first big studio project was due the next morning) to attend. It was a bit intimidating to walk into a room like that alone, but it was pretty exhilarating at the same time. I was the lone representative of the current Parsons lighting program, which I was proud of.
Luckily, one of my lighting studio professors, Craig Bernecker, was standing at the front of the throng, which was a relief. It was nice to see a familiar face in the crowd, and he introduced me to a few other people in the first few minutes.
The majority of the people I ended up meeting almost immediately were recent Parsons lighting graduates, who I learned, thankfully, were all employed by lighting or architecture firms in the city. I did end up having a few quick conversations with some of the other guests, including the host of the party and the singer/entertainer, but I spent the majority of the time talking with the Parsons people. I wish I could have started up a few conversations with some of the other people in the room, but the intimidation factor was pretty high up there, especially since I really only knew one other person in the room of over a hundred people. The other fact that, aside from a handful of Parsons people, I was the youngest person in the room by at least 7-10 years didn’t help either. Sometimes I wish that people at these types of meet-and-greets would wear big signs over their heads that would say “I work at XYZ firm,” or “I have a theatre background too!”
At any rate, I was happy that I made it out to the event. I enjoyed myself, had a chance to mingle and chat, and learned a bit more about the industry in the process. I’m excited to attend other DLFNY and industry events in the future, too. I really would love to meet some working designers and hear about their experiences. If you are one of those people, or if you were at the event on Wednesday night, let me know! Leave a comment below, DM me on Twitter (@fischerlighting), or send me an e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Now, next order of business, updating my business cards for the next event…