About this paper

Appears in:
Pages: 2630-2635
Publication year: 2012
ISBN: 978-84-695-3491-5
ISSN: 2340-1117

Conference name: 4th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 2-4 July, 2012
Location: Barcelona, Spain

LIGHT: AFFECT / EFFECT, AND THE UNDERSTANDING OF THE INTANGIBLE

D. Caldwell

Louisiana Tech University (UNITED STATES)
“You can’t study the darkness by flooding it with light.” — Edward Abbey

“There is more to light than the opposite of dark.” — Ric Ocasek

Light. It is ubiquitous; a condition so common it becomes a background assumption of existence; a fundamental in the exploration of opacity/transparency and the experience of form.

And yet… light’s intangible nature creates an elusiveness which hampers beginning design discussions. As a result, foundation projects tend to avoid this phenomenological challenge in favor of more concrete explorations of form, material, and structure.

In response, this paper details a set of beginning design investigations which engage the spatial manipulation of light and its repercussions. These investigations eschew passive, ambient light in favor of active, controlled light purposefully directed to specific phenomenal expressions. The work is divided into two phases, moving from photographic abstraction to architectonic existence.

1. Capturing Light
To begin, students are tasked with creating conceptual representations of light phenomenon photographically. They are provided with a series of light concept-phrases from which to select and explore, subdivided into actions, properties, and emotive attributes (examples: breathing light, tearing light, deafening light, bumpy light, amusing light). The student must actively create/stage conditions by which the phrase can be evoked, to give visual substance to the non-visual words. These photographs are not of specific things, but of light and the manipulation thereof. Students consider using various locations, light sources, times of day, and materials to shoot through, to manipulate light, to create shadow, to blend light sources, etc. Additionally, they must document the “behind the scenes” process to establish the “how” for future assignments.

2. Translating Light
Once students have images to aspire to, and some experiential knowledge of techniques and materials, it is time to translate these into architectonic ideas. In phase two, the task is to creatively construct a viewing envelope/vessel which spatially “re-creates” the phenomenon captured photographically. Discussion and critique focuses on the interactions of skin/surface, creating intermediary “envelopes” which interfere with the light, and receiving “surfaces” which accept the light. These conditions are examined with regard to their opacity, variability, regularity, movement, multiplicity, and spatial definition. The resulting device can be tested and improved using direct, haptic experience.

The abstraction of experience represented by drawn and virtual representations can prove difficult to understand to the beginning design student. Through these light investigations, conceptual and sensory phenomena are translated into spatial information, understood as actively controllable by the student. This establishes a foundation for later, more tectonic and orthographic problems in a variety of design contexts. Resulting projects have evinced a desire for and understanding of how one would experience the spaces, resulting in projects less programmatic and more profound.
@InProceedings{CALDWELL2012LIG,
author = {Caldwell, D.},
title = {LIGHT: AFFECT / EFFECT, AND THE UNDERSTANDING OF THE INTANGIBLE},
series = {4th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies},
booktitle = {EDULEARN12 Proceedings},
isbn = {978-84-695-3491-5},
issn = {2340-1117},
publisher = {IATED},
location = {Barcelona, Spain},
month = {2-4 July, 2012},
year = {2012},
pages = {2630-2635}}
TY - CONF
AU - D. Caldwell
TI - LIGHT: AFFECT / EFFECT, AND THE UNDERSTANDING OF THE INTANGIBLE
SN - 978-84-695-3491-5/2340-1117
PY - 2012
Y1 - 2-4 July, 2012
CI - Barcelona, Spain
JO - 4th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
JA - EDULEARN12 Proceedings
SP - 2630
EP - 2635
ER -
D. Caldwell (2012) LIGHT: AFFECT / EFFECT, AND THE UNDERSTANDING OF THE INTANGIBLE, EDULEARN12 Proceedings, pp. 2630-2635.
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