SPEAKER: The first step to beginning to understand light and beginning to be able to use light is we have to develop our eyes. We have to learn to see differently. To see better. To pay attention to light and how it falls on surfaces. How it affects us.
Again, light is so central to everything we see. Shapes are developed by light. Color is all light. It's what wavelengths are reflected.
Dimensionality. Texture, we only understand the texture of a surface by how the light falls on it. Is it shiny? Is it flat? Is it rough? The only way we know that without our tactile senses is by the way light falls on a subject.
It's so central to anything we see. And it impacts everything we see. In a way, we could say light is the most powerful visual medium. It is the visual medium.
But lest we get too proud about our position as lighting designers, it's also a very interesting and funny media because we almost never actually look at the light. I can only think of one real time that we decide to look at light itself. Even if you go to a laser show at a theme park, you're still looking at light against smoke, or on a wall, or something like that.
Maybe if we go to fireworks, we're actually looking at the light. If we sit in front of a fire or watch a candle, there we're looking at the actual light. But otherwise, we're looking at the light on surfaces. How light interplays with other things.
So it's a medium that although, it's very powerful, it's also very reactive. We only see it in terms of the context of what we're working with.
Again, light is like music. It's very abstract. Music doesn't work like language, unless we're listening to lyrics. It only works on a deeper, subliminal, abstract level. Yes, music can be happy or sad, but often, that would depend on the mood or what our background with the music is.
It's the same with light. It impacts us very deeply. But it doesn't work in a narrative way. I can put light on a figure and you could say, oh, that looks like a sunny day. Where the other person could say, oh, that looks like the inside of a room. But it does impact us and it impacts us on a deep, subliminal level.
Like the soundtrack of a film, when you take it away, the film has none of the emotional impact that it does when that soundtrack is there. Light is always impacting us. It becomes, sort of, the soundtrack for our entire visual lives.
How do we get that meaning? We get that meaning through context-- how light has affected us in the natural world and in the world of our creation.
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Often we only pay attention to light in extreme cases--it's too dark or too bright. But the middle part of that continuum is where it gets interesting. The quality, color, and amount of light shape our understanding and are used for aesthetic purposes in visual media and in living spaces. Join E.D. Intemann in an exploration of the fascinating use of light.
This video is part 4 of 12 in the Poetry of Light series.