Introduction

We use light in all aspects of our lives, yet we seldom notice it. That is by design: lighting in everyday life, well-designed, doesn’t call attention to itself. Instead it places focus on the subjects and activities which it supports.

Solid state lighting technologies and network technologies have made major changes in lighting design. They support a wide range of color rendering and control than earlier lighting technologies, an ability to change light over a wider range of time, and they can communicate with all kinds of digital systems and devices.

On the design side, this class takes a “post-pixelist” approach: rather than making images with light, we’ll use it to illuminate people and the spaces and activities in which they engage. We won’t focus on pixels or projections, but rather on casting light on the subject at hand. We’ll consider the intersection of lighting design and interaction design. We’ll analyze lighting and describe its effects, in order to design and 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 how the materials which we cast light on or through affect how we perceive it. We’ll talk about sources of light, both current and historical. We’ll work with computerized control systems for lighting, and we’ll design a few lighting fixtures for different purposes. You’ll get practice planning and building electronic and microcontroller-driven circuits for lighting, and you’ll learn digital communications protocols such as DMX-512, ACN, and HTTP/REST.

Assignments will cover lighting observation and decription; sensing and measurement of light; design of new lighting fixtures; and control of existing fixtures and lighting systems.

This class will be production-intensive throughout the course of the spring semester. Second-year students should consider that the assignments in this class must be done in addition to their thesis work, regardless of the topic of their thesis.