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Technology in Search of Art…

Many thousands of years ago, primitive man learned to use fire for warmth, cooking, and light.  As the centuries rolled by, the methods for building fires became more refined and more specialized.  Fires for cooking and warmth were no longer the same as the ones used for light.  The torches of early man evolved into candles that could be used in various locations to provide light as desired.   Soon candlelight took on sophisticated forms such as candelabras that were not only functional but also decorative even when not in use.   

palm treeThen the 20th century happened.  Electricity and the glowing light bulb changed everything.  Not only was there more light than any candle or combination of candles could produce, there was the ability to put these glowing orbs in all sorts of locations.  Through years of use, we created innumerable shapes and sizes for light fixtures based on these wonderfully glowing bulbs.  Our houses were designed so light fixtures provided us with functional and pleasing illumination.  The only limitation was that these light bulbs were basically point sources of light.  We could use as many as we wished and they could be large or small but they were nevertheless localized warm glowing points of light.  

The next evolutionary step was the invention of the fluorescent tube.  This light source was no longer just a point source but could now be tubular and a number of them could be placed side by side to create what would appear to be a panel of light.  This became the preferred lighting method for virtually all commercial establishments.  The superior efficiency and durability of fluorescent lighting made it an obvious choice for businesses.   However, for home use, most of us still preferred the warmer glow of the conventional tungsten light bulbs.  The large rectangles that constitute the great majority of fluorescent light fixtures do not fit well with the home decors we seem to prefer and do not provide the same pleasant light that we can get from the conventional tungsten filament bulb.

We have had over a hundred years of living to get used to this technology.  However, we are about to experience a change as dramatic as when we transitioned from candles to light bulbs.  Perhaps you are thinking that I am going to tell you that LED lights that are now becoming more prevalent are the next revolution.  But you would be wrong.  That is not what I am thinking at all.  While that is a nice change, it is really not all that revolutionary.  Replacing a 75 watt tungsten filament light bulb with a 15 watt LED that looks much the same and produces a similar kind of light is good but not all that interesting.  

The change that I see coming is the adaptation of light generation technology that can produce light panels in any shape and size.   Lighting technology that can produce any color on demand; that can create entire walls of light.  Light that can be combined with images – still or moving.  We are about to transition from centuries of point sources to a new world of lights that can take on any shape and size.  We will soon experience a revolution with a convergence of imaging and lighting.  

The technology for doing this exists today.  But we cannot see the potential yet because we are living with several hundred years of preconceptions for how lighting is supposed to look.  To get us out of this mindset, I believe we need some creative artists to help us get past this traditional way of seeing light.  We need entirely new light fixture concepts that take advantage of glowing surfaces.  We need to envision and create lights that respond to our moods and illuminate our living spaces in entirely new ways.  Light does not even have to be a separate “fixture”.  It can become a part of our living space.  It can imitate whatever environment we wish to create.  Combine light and sound and we can feel like we are at the ocean shore experiencing the crashing surf.  

Once these ideas begin to catch on, progress will be rapid.  The base technologies already exist.  They can be implemented into products quickly.   The more difficult challenge is in breaking through the limits of our imagination.  And even after interesting products are created, there is an infrastructure of factories and commercial establishments that currently do not know how to create new sales channels.  The entry point will most likely be through clients who have the financial resources and the desire to try something entirely new.  Perhaps some of the entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley or here in Seattle will be among the first to explore and adopt these new ways of illuminating their living spaces. 

The next few years will be exciting as these new lighting concepts begin to germinate and grow.  Once the initial adopters show the rest of us what is possible, the growth will be rapid.  This revolution in lighting will turn out to be every bit as interesting as the transition from CRT televisions to large screen flat panels. 

Should you have any thought or comments on how you will participate in this upcoming evolution, you may contact me directly from this site, by e-mail at silzars@attglobal.net, or by telephone at 425-898-9117.     

 

19916 NE 30th Ct. Sammamish, WA 98074 Call 425.898.9117 FAX 425.898.1727 Email

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