Introduction

We use light in all aspects of our lives, yet we seldom notice it. Most of the time, that’s no accident. Lighting in everyday life, well-designed, doesn’t call attention to itself. Instead it draws focus to the subjects and activities which it supports. In this class, you’ll  learn how lighting is used for utilitarian, expressive, and informational purposes. We’ll consider the intersection of lighting design and interaction design, paying attention to how people interact with light. We’ll practice both analyzing lighting and describing its effects, in order to use it more effectively.

On the technical side, you’ll learn the basics of the physics of light, its transmission and perception. We’ll talk about sources of light, both current and historical. We’ll work with computerized control systems for lighting and modern light sources, and we’ll create a number of lighting designs for different purposes. You’ll get practice building AC and DC electronic circuits, programming microcontrollers for physical interaction, and learning digital communications protocols such as DMX512 and HTTP and REST

Projects in this class will range from indicator lighting on devices to task and wayfinding lighting in everyday environments to stage and environmental lighting. We won’t spend time on projection or light used for purely expressive purposes, but will look at how to put light to work instead. We’ll focus our attention on lighting the subject at hand, whether that subject is a person, a living environment, or a workspace.

This class will be production-intensive throughout the course of the spring semester. Second-year students will not be able to combine the assignments in this class with their thesis projects, though some of the skills may be complementary.