Thursday, September 1, 2011

Essay: Light Revealing Experience

The bond between a place and humanity branches from experience. When you enter a space, the way the light is cast has the potential to change your mood, bring you back to an earlier time, or even give you a false feeling of warmth or coldness. Light also varies from place to place. It is dependent on geographical area, climate, the surrounding nature, and time of day, etcetera. For instance, if you live in the southern part of the states you will notice that there are often bigger windows allowing more light in, which in turn gives you the feeling of warmth and comfort. In the readings it states that in industrialized areas, it is harder to experience the wonders of natural lighting. I have never thought of that because I grew up in a suburb of Charlotte, so when I went to the city, I was drawn to the more scenic areas rather than all of the skyscrapers. But when I began thinking about it, it is true. When tall buildings on a regular basis surround you, it seems as if he only sunlight you are getting is through the glass in a high rise. It is more difficult to see the sunrise and sunset because the buildings break up the flow of sunlight and you mainly see shadows compared the sunbeams. My theory is that is why you can tell a distinct difference in office spaces versus homes, or dining places. Lighting is affected due to the trade it is being designed for. When you are in an office, you are used to constantly having artificial light around you and you are not getting a lot of natural light or fresh air for that matter. So when you walk into a place with that sense of lighting, you are aware that is what is being conveyed. However, when you enter a restaurant, it is meant to give you, the customer, the comfortable feeling of home, so the lights are dim, it is a comfortable atmosphere, which makes you feel comfortable eating, drinking, and being social.

The way light is diffused is also a psychological mind game. Designers try to mimic things in nature by using a wide range of materials and structural pieces, which can create different effects that also evoke a variety of emotions, using natural and artificial lighting. Architects can manipulate a space by adding screens, stained glass, etc to make an area reminiscent of a forest in Finland or the sunset in New Mexico. The simple tricks, like using brick and wood to stimulate warmth, are the things that bring us mental and sensual pleasure without trying. It is something that make us feel welcome and at home. Whether you prefer the warmer side of design or the cooler side of design, lighting can change it all. For instance, if the area has plentiful shade and cooler colors, it is seen as a chilly room. Which to some, fits right in with them and brings them psychological relief.

Though it may be obvious, the change of seasons has a dramatic effect on lighting and the way it is portrayed. In North Carolina, especially, the bright summer sun is, or so it seems, hotter, higher, and the light is a little bit hazier. It is so humid especially in this area of the United States that when I began to think about it, it made perfect sense. Also, I realized that the reason I probably do not like the winter months, besides the obvious fact of it being cold, is that the light out tends to be more gray and a little bit more dreary compared to summer, or even spring and fall. The light being affected by the time of year is a concept that when you think about it, it makes perfect sense, it is just like an extended view of the daily changes you witness from dawn to dusk. Light can also be transformed by ornamentation. In harsher climates, as the reading showed, you can add a touch of gold to an existing gray backdrop and it adds the sense of comfort that you did not have before.

After reading this article, it has opened my eyes to the reactions we subconsciously have to lighting and the manipulation of lighting. It is very interesting to realize that what you may think is as simple as lighting is actually a little more complex than you think, it has the ability to change your mood, your perception, and even your feel of a space.

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