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Sunday, May 14, 2006

GEL 2006 - Leni Schwendinger

Leni Schwendinger (PDF) is an artist with lighting. She set up lighting for the GEL 2006 Conference at the Equitable Theather. Very simple and very effective. Her talk focused on the work she did for the Kingston Bridge in the city of Glasgow. The city was renovating the bridge and she worked with the engineering company to create a wonderful light project.

Her study of the bridge revealed how heavily it was used by traffic going into and out of the city. She also studied the water flow for the River Clyde that flowed beneath. The river did ebb and flow, at one point going completely glass like as the tide shifted directions. There was also "a sky space", the gap between the two sections of the bridge each carrying their inbound and outbound traffic.

What she did was to set up sensors to monitor the traffic flow, another set of sensors to monitor the river flow. Putting the two flows together there were 144 combinations for the pattern of vehicle traffic and water flow. She color coded the combinations and then create an update process every minute. So the sensors would do their thing, and each minute the lights would go to a single color (I recall it being blue, but I'm not positive) then switch to depict which of the 144 sets would show the status of the traffic and river flow.

At night, approaching the bridge, you can tell at a glance what is happening. Pretty cool.

I'd like to see it up close. One round trip ticket to Glasgow, please!

More info on Leni's light projects can be found here.

This was a good example of the theme for the day, seeking hidden potential. A bridge over the river is many times taken for granted by both the passengers on the road and any boat traffic below. By adding the sequenced light to the bridge depicting what was going on Leni created something from nothing, i.e. the hidden potential.

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