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L \GHT SHINES


L /GHT REFLECTS


EDITED BY SURESH SETHI


CONTENT Prelude \ 14 Introduction / 15 Lee Yong Ping Brian \ 20 Lim Bo Cindy \ 24 Koo Wei Ai Victoria / 25 Cheung Yei Yang Paulus / 26 Gauri Tiwari \ 28 Thomas George / 30 Sharifah Bte Mohamed Nasser \ 34 Zyane Tan \ 36 Yeo Yuh Shing Serene / 38 Lim Shuqing Nicholas \ 40 Tan Zhi Wei / 42 Sng Kai Lin \ 43 Sreeja Balachandran \ 44 Tee Chor Hiong Frankie \ 48


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PRELUDE V: L\GHT SHINES, L /GHT REFLECTS

One of the characteristics of modern society is its life under artificial light. What is light but an interaction, a multisensorial interaction? It is cultural; it is emotion and sensation together. Emotions are memory, place, people, light, touch, and aroma all together. We are rooted in the continuity of time, and it is the task of the designer to facilitate this experience. Light is regarded as metaphor of truth. The new lighting should “penetrate the surfaces of popular tastes and values”. The new light should emerge from our memories, imaginations and dreams; it should resensitize architecture and invite sensory intimacy. The lighting designer today should sculpt stories with light. And build a “new sensibility that can turn the relative immateriality and weightlessness of recent technological innovations into a positive experience of space, place and meaning”. This book is about search of “light” rather than a “lamp”. The idea is not “constant” but “variable”. There is a clear indication of changing modes of consumption in consumers today; the semantic issue takes precedence in people’s minds over technical ones. There is a need for uniqueness and individual environmental expression. Borrowing from the traditional spaces and of course taking inspiration from light play one sees in nature, it is challenging to create something that is beyond servicing practical or a functional role but has the power to appeal directly to the human spirit. Through series of real projects carried out by the author and his students the attempt is to see how light can play an emotive and more encompassing role within an environment. In the resulting light in space, the observers are free to perceive what they see in their own way and with their own association to the experience. Suresh Sethi


INTRODUCTION Will the sun rise again? Will our old friend the dawn come again? Will the power of darkness be conquered by the God of Light? From an Indian Veda ca 1500 BC In India, sun is generous, it is the god of life, and millions of Hindus even today sing their worship to sun god “Surya”. A symbol of “Surya” and “Agni”, the lamp plays a very important role in Hindu life. The sanskrit term ‘Aloka’ alludes to quality of ‘shining’, to glow. It also means cosmos; light and radiance are its attributes, an entity which has the capacity to emit light and illuminate the ‘loka’, or the world. If you have been to city of Banaras or Varanasi, “there is little in the world to compare with the splendour of Banaras seen from the river at dawn. The rays of the early morning sun spread across the river and strike the high banked face of this city, which hundreds call Kashi ― the luminous, the city of light. Kashi is light, they say. The city illuminates truth and reveal reality.”

in all parts of India. This is the day all wait for the goddess of fortune to their homes and their workplaces. As evening approaches, each household puts out its rows of lights, lining the rooftops and window sills with the small single wick oil lamps for which this festival is famous. Even the poorest household will have a lamp or two, and the richest may replace the simple oil-lamps with festive, even garish, strands of electric lights. In this way the darkest night of the month is made brilliant, to welcome “Lakshmi” for another year”. The light play in this festival weaves magic. As a child I saw my grandmother light a lamp every morning and pray to “Surya” and “Agni”. She would do her “Aarati” holding the lamp in both her hands and waved repetitively in front of the image of the gods. This was my first conscious experience of light play. When I went to a temple with her, I would see elaborately fashioned lamp structure with multiple cavities being used by the priest for performing the ritual of aarti.

Travellers who have been to city of Agra, and visited the Agra fort, would have seen the Shish Mahal or the Glass Palace. This was constructed by Emperor Shah Jahan in 1631– 40. The name is derived from the fact that its ceilings and walls are covered with innumerable pieces of mirror set in the plaster. Minimum openings were kept to necessitate the use of artificial light, which was essential to obtain the picturesque effect of the glass work. The Shish Mahal comprises of two large chambers, light penetrated only through two doors and a ventilator in the southern wall near the ceiling. Each chamber had a marble reservoir for water. Water coming through an inlet fell into the tank sunk in the wall like a continuous sheet. From here through a channel the water fell into another tank. Two series of candle niches were also provided. Candles burning behind the falling water created a gorgeous effect. From the tank in the inner hall the water then flowed through a long canal into the tank in the outer hall. Both these tanks had fountains, which added to the mysterious effect of light. Light play was understood by architects even in those days. “The great festival of “Diwali” or “Deepavali” meaning a row of lights is celebrated with enthusiasm

Suresh Sethi Real Unreal, 2007 450 x 450 x 300 Interactive lamp, Acrylic and wood


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INTRODUCTION

The light play, became more elaborate, as many lamps together were being waved repetitively. As a young boy, I would eagerly wait for “Diwali” festival so that I could play with light. We were allowed to play with light. I spend much of my time alone engrossed in an imaginary world. During the nights, I would very often look up into the sky. The moon fascinated me. When I was thirteen I discovered the world of Van Gogh, and one of my favourite painting was “The Sun of Arles. Whenever I was sad I would go to the riverbank, and sit there gazing at the light play on moving water. My first job as a professional designer was to design light fixtures or lamps at Philips. The task of designing lamps was not as simple as I initially thought it would be, “for it is not easy to bring light where it is needed. Because for that it is necessary to make a large irritating gadget which is rather fragile even though it only has to bear its own weight- and it has to hang there, whether it is in use or not.” I designed many light fixtures; more solid forms, all were manufactured and sold well. They used hardy, industrial materials metal, plastics. There was only play of form. Light was always constant. Electric Light is always constant. I had forgotten the light play in my search for good form. The new lighting landscape must be brought into harmony with the rhythm of the seasons, of sunrise and sunset, day and night and restore the balance between us and our environment. The oriental disciplines of sensibilities grew out of the feeling that men lived fully by opening themselves to the universal rhythm of nature. An order and simplicity underlies all natural phenomenons. Natural light is constantly weaving a magic of colours. Moonlight is cosmic, cold and frail. Moonlight is a soft light. At twilight there is no glare and no shadows. There is a soft, emotional atmosphere. Sunlight is like a billion watt bulb. A single electric bulb in an Indian home is a replica of the sun. Electric light within built space is always constant; it weakens the experience of time. Lighting has to be an integral part of our life, a thing dynamic, not static, it lives, it changes, it expresses- it brings inert spaces to life by relating them to human spirit.

What is light but an interaction ― a multi-sensorial interaction? It is cultural; it is emotion and sensation together. Emotions are memory, place, people, light, touch, and aroma all together. We are rooted in the continuity of time, and it is the task of the designer to facilitate this experience. Light is regarded as metaphor of truth. The new lighting should “penetrate the surfaces of popular tastes and values”. The new light should emerge from our memories, imaginations and dreams; it should resensitize architecture and invite sensory intimacy. The lighting designer today should sculpt stories with light. And build a “new sensibility that can turn the relative immateriality and weightlessness of recent technological innovations into a positive experience of space, place and meaning”. The next generation of interactive design will employ embedded computational power in various environments’ in our home, public spaces or in the lamps themselves. There is a huge potential for the future of what we do in terms of building and designing of lights that we use for enhancing our living environments and enhance our experiences of these spaces. The following projects were chosen to illustrate the use of light to enhance the experience of time.


Suresh Sethi Light Play, 2008 250 x 250 x 350 Interactive Lamp Acrylic & wood


L\GHT \NG \S AN OF OUR L\FE. A NOT STAT \C, \T EXPRESSES AND SPACES TO L\FE THEM TO THE

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/NTEGRAL PART TH/NG DYNAM/C, L / VES, CHANGES, BR /NGS /NERT BY RELAT/NG HUMAN SP/R / T.


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Lee Yong Ping Brian Cinnamon, 2009 1200 x 600 Lamp made of Acrylic pipe covered with cinnamon pieces

Brian’s lamp captures in a single moment the poetic potential of light and aroma of cinnamon. The heat generated from the bulb intensifies and diffuses the aroma of cinnamon into the surrounding environment. The viewers are overwhelmed by the warmth of lamp and the cloud of perfume.


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Jiang Bo Cindy Lighted, 2009 2000 x 250 Lamp with fabric and paper

What appears to be a blue, yellow and pink lit column is in fact a representational teary romantic well. Cindy was inspired by the play Romeo and Juliet she saw at the London theatre. The lamp captures the lighting effects the artist experienced when Juliet as teary bride sat under a gray sky at the sea side.


Koo Wei Ai Victoria Manifest, 2009 250 x 250 x 450 Lamp with paper, fabric and rotating mirrors

Victoria is attracted to light’s handsome character, quiet yet warm. Her lamp encapsulates the gentle flames of the fireplace. By choosing a golden red paper and rotating mirrors mechanism around the light source; she makes the viewers experience the warm light of a fireplace.


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Cheung Yei Yang Paulus Effusion, 2009 750 x 250 x250 Interactive lamp Acrylic rods and wood

Paulus visited the Brunei jungles where moonlight guided him in the darkness. Moon as the “lighthouse� left a lasting impression; which he captured in this lamp. The acrylic rods represented the trees and as viewers mechanically move the light source in the base of the lamp; they can experience the moonlight condition produced by the moon traveling across the sky over a thick jungle and as they walk through it.


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Gauri Tiwari “Kashi” Lamp, 2003 1800 x 1200 x 300 Lamp with recycled PET bottles and paper

Water is the foundation of the whole world, from the waters arose all plants, all life. Banaras or ‘Kashi’ is the city of light, city of death and liberation. The concept was based on reflections on water and was also linked to sustainability, to reuse, to the changing hues of colours on river “Ganga” from sunrise to sunset. The new lamp creates a mirage, the light becomes new aquatic realm, and the viewer finds a new way of enjoying the water. Image of water exists in this light.


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Thomas George Aurora, 2004 1000 x 2000 Projected reflections

In ‘Isha’ Upanishad, one of the most famous Upanishads, we have a description of something that moves and at the same moves not: ‘Tad ejati tan naijati’―“That moves and that moves not. That is far and that is near. That is within and without.” The sun god is also the god of flight, and he performs his task like a beautiful bird. Time and space are covered by the wings of the sun god. The use of reflective surfaces such as mirror paper of various colours and a chrome plated sheet to project reflections on a screen or wall were attempted. The paper was placed on the table and either one or two spotlights were used to produce the reflections, the angles of light incident on the reflective surfaces were manipulated to produce the clearest reflection on the screen. The projected reflections off the undulated chrome plated sheet produced an almost three dimensional quality that is remarkably similar to computer simulations of an organic form folding in on itself. A series of coloured reflective paper was used in sequence moving horizontally along the table surface towards the light source. The effect produced by the projected reflection is that of an animated column of light that continually changes hues as the frames advance. A primitive simulation of the aurora, the spectacular natural phenomenon that has few parallels in terms of sheer beauty, was achieved.


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Sharifah Bte Mohamed Nasser Glo, 2009 350 x 350 Lamp cushion embedded with LED’s

Light is the powerful medium that has shaped and directed our lives. We have a visual concept of form and space whereby we can abstract and extend it as a series of relationships between points, planes and surfaces. But what light does is to play with our senses and makes us recognize and possibly be moved by these surrounding form and space. Using pillow as the form, through experimenting with scale, light, colour and multiplicity, Sharifah is able to transform an ordinary functional item into a challenging new environment that is both stimulating and playful. The sudden slow glow of light in different locations enhances the inner layers of the pillow with sweeps of cool coloration invoking the spirit of motion and life to an otherwise static home ware. The mood is playful, serene. The glowing pillow takes home furnishings to a new level as an innovative combination of ambient lighting and cushion. The expessive and emotive qualities that the light possesses change the way the user sees the dark environment around him. Functionally, the pillow also becomes the night light.


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Zyane Tan Aurore, 2009 350 x 700 x 140 Lamp with Acrylic strips, colored paper

Watching waves lapping at the shore Zyane find extremely enjoyable and the light falling on the waves very soothing. She longs to see the awe-inspiring, majestic northern lights ― Aurora Borealis with her own eyes. Zyane’s installation is a fusion of the light reflection on waves and colors of Aurora Borealis. She used LED’s, acrylic strips shaped into gentle flowing forms, colored crepe and cellophane paper and created this dreamy look.


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Yeo Yuh Shing Serene Night Drive, 2009 600 x 1800 x150 Lamp with rice paper and wood

Night drive is probably when the deepest thoughts flow. Like a car travelling on an endless highway, thoughts also travel. Under the myriad sea of colored lights there is a calm, quiet and relaxed feeling. Serene always feels this quiet calm when she looks out of the car on such drives. Installation “Night Drive� is light in motion, calming the emotions of the viewers, allowing them to experience serenity and calmness.


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Lim Shuqing Nicholas Goli, 2009 1000 x 500 x 25 Lamp marbles and frosted glass

Nicholas calls his installation “Udan liris”, the batik motif ― meaning “light rain”. Diagonal bands containing various patterns run across the fabric streaks of rain on glss window pane. For him raindrops refract sunlight beautifully. Using glass marbles he successfully recreated the way raindrops shine. At the same time, they evoke warm childhood memories of play. The rays of sunlight falling on the marbles is refracted like crystalline pearls. The viewers are enthralled with this playful light through structured sea of jewels. If the viewer stays long enough, he or she will realize that the light changes slowly not only with the changes of position of the sun, but with every change in the viewer’s own location. Viewing in the direction of the sun, one can see colored beams crowning each marble; each marble becomes its own sun, an emitter of miniscule amount of light that adds up in numbers.


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Tan Zhi Wei Molecule, 2009 240 x 240 x 480 Lamp with Acrylic

Zhi Wei is inspired by the human DNA molecule and the Singapore skyline at night. The installation is made up of four vertical poles forming the backbone that penetrates the organic base. The edges of the installation spiral-up representing the DNA while the horizontal slabs reflect like illuminated high rise skyscrapers at night. The installation becomes one as light flawlessly unifying the components together into a brilliant molecule.


Sng Kai Lin Sunset, 2009 1500 x 300 x 150 lamp with fabric, paper and wood

The installation captures the emotions of Kai Lin, as the sun sets into the distant horizon. To create a light in which one could lose oneself, just as one may, in watching the warm glow of sunset dance across the surface of the ocean. Blue and purple are deliberately chosen to recall a little of the sea and the auroras. Combined with warm lighting and figures as the focal point in the installation, it evokes a warm emotion. The shimmering fabric is used as the front screen so as to engage the viewers even when the light is switched off. Folds and creases span the length, creating shadows when the light is on, and otherwise capturing highlights from external light source. The process has been as if the artist was painting with light and when she was laying the layers of purple and blue it felt like adding a dash of paint across the skyline of canvas.


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Sreeja Balachandran Forest Green, 2004 1200 x 900 x 150 Lamp with Acrylic cables and paper

Light is all around us. From dawn to dusk light is with us in varying intensities — the subtle day break bringing the feeling of life — the fresh morning light— the bright daylight— the harsh afternoon light— the intimate evening light —the cozy twilight — the sensuous moonlight. As light changes from cool early morning to bright white light at noon, to hazy yellow twilight, the way our surroundings appear seem to change too. Light plays a profound effect on the emotions of man. This is an important aspect to be considered while designing the lighting conditions in a particular space. Artificial lights generally tend to be uniform and steady throughout, giving a monotonous feeling. Today artificial lights are being designed to closely simulate the ambience of natural light. This special project is a part of an extensive research on lighting, where the focus is to understand the qualities of natural and artificial light, the effect of light on human emotions and how, with the use of different type of light sources and different materials, the artificial lighting can be made more active and effective to give the same richness as the natural light.


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Tee Chor Hiong Frankie Pulsating, 2009 1500 x 1000 Wearable Lamp

Frankie was able to magically transform his memory of the glowing fire flies into a radiant dress. The dress was inspired by “Shakti’ the mother goddess,the universal principle of energy and power—the one who restores balance. By embedding fiber optics into thin rice paper, a subtle glow was achieved through the optic path and the light source shone at the other end of the fiber. The soft effect on the path created a feeling of rhythmic calmness, while the bright glow at it’s end gave a sense of hope. The final outcome is mesmerizing, something etherial.


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Cinnamon, 2009 1200 x 600 Lamp made of Acrylic pipe covered with cinnamon pieces \ 20

Lighted, 2009 2000 x 250 Lamp with fabric and paper \ 24

Manifest, 2009 250 x 250 x 450 Lamp with paper, fabric and rotating mirrors \ 25

Effusion, 2009 750 x 250 x250 Interactive lamp Acrylic rods and rubber wood / 26

“Kashi” Lamp, 2003 1800 x 1200 x 300 Lamp with recycled PET bottles and paper \ 28

Aurora: Light Effects, 2004 1000 x 2000 Projected reflections / 30

Glo, 2009 350 x 350 Lamp cushion embedded with LED’s \ 34


Aurore, 2009 350 x 700 x 140 Lamp with Acrylic strips, colored paper \ 36

Night Drive, 2009 600 x 1800 x150 Lamp with rice paper and rubber wood /38

Goli, 2009 1000 x 500 x 25 Lamp marbles and frosted glass \ 40

Molecule, 2009 240 x 240 x 480 Lamp with Acrylic / 42

Sunset, 2009 1500 x 300 x 150 Lamp with fabric, paper and wood / 43

Forest Green, 2004 1200 x 900 x 150 Lamp with acrylic cables and paper Hologram \ 44

Pulsating, 2009 1500 x 1000 Wearable Lamp \ 48


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ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I am very grateful to my mentor Professor Mohan Bhandari, who made it easy for me to discover the soul of light, its lightness. To IRC, IITB for the generous support in form of seed funding. I would like to thank my students without whom this adventure would have been incomplete. I am especially grateful to Deepa Sam, Sreeja Balachandran, Thomas George, and Gauri Tiwari, who were there in this journey—believing and living light. I am grateful to Patrick for his constant support in making the prototypes possible. I am indebted to Wen Xin Oh who designed this book. I would like to express my deep thanks and appreciation to Professor Vibeke Sorenson, Chair, School of Art, Design and Media, in supporting the publication of this book. Finally, to the light in my life Simrun and the two shinning stars Arrpita and Amrrita, who made this a delightful journey.


Suresh Sethi is an Associate Professor and the Director of NTU -Domus Academy programme at the Nanyang Technological University, School of Art, Design and Media, Singapore. He was a tenured Associate Professor at Industrial Design Center, IIT, Bombay, India. After a first degree in Industrial design from the National institute of Design, Ahmadabad, India he did his postgraduate studies in Lighting Design from Domus Academy, Milan, Italy. He has been working on Lighting design for many years apart from his professional work mainly products in a consumer electronics and home appliances. His work has been produced in many countries and his designs have had successful reruns in various parts of the world. He has many facets, apart from designing mass produced products, he has designed custom built luxury yachts and has worked with Organic Architect and Indian Master Craftsmen. He is also an artist and has been part of many International Art festivals and Exhibitions. Sethi’s tireless desire to humanize products has led him to his current research on high ― touch, friendly interactive objects and interaction design innovations for communities. ssethi@ntu.edu.sg


For My Family V: L\GHT SHINES, L /GHT REFLECTS A compilation of lighting projects Edited by Suresh Sethi First Edition 2010 ISBN: 978-981-08-5809-4 © 2009 Suresh Sethi, Singapore Nanyang Technological University Design: STRUCT | Oh Wen Xin Photography: © ‘V’ Designers, Suresh Sethi Production and Printing: First Printers Pte Ltd Paper: Naturalis White Matt 135gsm Typeface: DinPro Medium, DinPro Bold www.struct.sg All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reprinted or reproduced or utilised in any form by any electronic, mechanical or other means, now known or hereafter invented, including photocopying and recording, or in any information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publishers.

Nanyang Technological University School of Art, Design and Media, Level 3–22 81 Nanyang Drive, Singapore 637458 Tel: (65) 6514 1058 Fax: (65) 6795 3140 ssethi@ntu.edu.sg www.ntu.edu.sg/adm Printed in Singapore


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