For me, the Conference began on Saturday when we hosted 40 students and emerging lighting professionals with a full day of topics designed just for them. We toured an award-winning U of M campus building, had portfolio reviews, and gave everyone time to "speed network" with all kinds of lighting professionals. Our opening keynote speaker is an emerging professional herself - Maja Petric shared her inspirational use of light in her art. Her most architectural work used LED light to pour through cracks in a tunnel ceiling to illuminate the inside of the tunnel. The color temperature and intensity of the light changes throughout the day to mirror the current outdoor light conditions. See that project and more of her beautiful work here. It was her work that inspired me to post this.
When the Conference-proper kicked off on Sunday, we danced the night away to the delightful sounds of Stefan Graf's lighting industry band, Black Body Locusts. Special thank you's go to Naomi Miller for writing hilarious lighting lyrics for the band to sing and to Lance Bennett / Cooper Lighting for sponsoring the band!
The next day the dean of the University of Minnesota School of Design, Thomas Fisher, challenged us to not just problem solve, but problem seek. Design thinking is valuable beyond the making of things. He even wondered if universities should be restructured - not around disciplines, but around world challenges. In this format, the iterative process of abductive reasoning could be put to work: seeing connections between things that are seemingly different. Who knows the discoveries that would follow? Are we defining our industry correctly? Is it lighting? Or perhaps we are in the human productivity business? This led the way for professor Blaine Brownell to describe the lighting immersion project created by his architectural students. They gather all kinds of materials and, working in teams, build a light of some kind. Some of the projects make statements, some are portable, some explore the idea of light as an object that occupies space rather than illuminating it. All of these projects are unexpected and creative. For more from Blaine Brownell, start here then read one of his books.
Next I attended the "LIGHT+ SENIORS Symposium Summary and Review." All I can say is - wow - am I ever sorry I missed the symposium! The Summary and Review was so full of information that I'll revisit this one later in a blog post all its own.
If I thought I was mentally saturated before the "Smart Lighting - Beyond Ordinary" session, I certainly was afterward. This future-casting session covered everything from the invention of LED to synthetic LED skylights (light + video) to the use of blue light "patches" for pain therapy (light + medicine) and of course, the new hue LED from Philips sold in your local Apple store (light + apps.) Light carries information. Imagine one day using our light sources instead of broadband... It's all about the fusion of lighting and other disciplines. Are you catching the theme? The whole conference theme of synapses and connections was repeated through many sessions where interdisciplinary interaction was lauded and encouraged.
Monday night's entertainment was a private screening of the documentary The City Dark. It was fun seeing some of our very own IES Conference attendees (Howard Brandston) on the big screen. The movie itself pits lighting on earth against the night sky's fading natural lights and challenges us to balance the two. Heavy.
The next morning's keynote speaker was Mark Major who picked up the dark sky theme with excerpts from a National Geographic article on Light Pollution. What should we be more afraid of? The dark? Or what we are doing to the night? The work of Speirs + Major is always breathtaking, and hearing this one presentation was worth every penny I spent on the entire conference.
In the next session, I was privileged to introduce my fellow KU alumnus, Zachary Suchara, who spoke on human factors in lighting. When was the last time you considered your humanity as it relates to lighting? Humans are phototropic. Exactly how we experience light varies based on where we live on the planet. Zach had many other fascinating points including this one: In the past 20 years, there have been more new lamp types developed than in all the other years of human history put together. He closed the session with a great case study in which the developers exploited the human factor by turning the building systems into a game. Tenants in the building actually compete with each other to see who can use the least energy. It reminded me a little of watching the gauges on our Toyota Prius to see how many miles per gallon we can get per trip.
The Conference included many more papers, some political pundits, the always-popular Progress Committee presentation, a wonderful Illumination Awards dinner, other Society Awards, and lots of networking. For me, it was one of the best IES Conferences ever. How about for you?