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Lighting Design & Time : a topic summery on the introduction of the Time attribute to lighting towards the @nd year performance students @ KASK


lighting design =

  • organising a set of lighting fixtures/objects in a spatial context


  • organising the output of those fixtures/objects in a temporal context


Main attribute to vary in time =

  • intensity … simple as it can be
  • be it that contemporary technology allows also time variability on colour/direction/form…. for the better??

Technical stage tools to manipulate intensity over time =

  • hardware: switch & dimmer
  • software: lighting desk or specific computer applications

Generating a variety of lighting over time:

  • a series of following static situations (conventional cross fading (pre)set idea)
  • extended transitions in stead of swift cross fades (from light-scenes into light scapes)
  • ever dynamic light state (organically moving scene)

CS examples : all-3 / dynamic voices in 3 / dynamic of performance (= trip, not a sequence of scenes…) projected into the bulbs by ever organic movement


The perception (by the subject) of any lighting situation is relative to the time dimension

functioning of the eye:

  • lens/iris: gateway for the light onto the retina
  • projection of image onto retina
    • scotopic receptors (intensity)
    • photopic receptors (colour & intensity)
  • transmission & translation/interpretation of information in the brain


  • the opening of the iris (1)
  • the differentiated sensitivity of the receptors (2)
  • the translation of the information (3)

are to be seen / can be manipulated in a temporal context

Relative brightness and Intensity adaptation:

  • the opening of the iris regulates the amount of light coming in
    • night walk with full moonlight
    • optimum based on the overall intensity picture: blinding headlights in the night versus daytime
  • TIME (directly 1) : relative long transition period needed for iris to adjust…. : intensity adaptation as a lighting design tool
    • known blinding effect after darker light
    • but also inverse…. BO, be it not fully, after brightness: way to quickly disappear into the wings…
    • annoying LED pollution in a space only visible after a while
    • simple LED set design by Anne Juren, Code Series
  • TIME (1+3): automatic and unconscious physical adaptation of the iris leading to interpretable or even deceptive information : progressive manipulation of the vision:
    • slow transition into rather extreme states makes that state the new/manipulatad normality by which it then can be contrasted much stronger
    • stretching time with long fade-out : losing the spatial context without losing the focus on the dancers (Violet Endscene)

Relative sensitivity of the light receptors and intensity and/or chromatic adaptation:

  • when receptors are locally stimulated, they become less sensitive…. thus less active areas become more sensitive for information (brightness and/or colour)
    • After image : Subject = hungry for missing information: Frog picture
  • TIME (directly 2): relative long transition period needed for receptors to “reset”: intensity/chromatic adaptation as a lighting design tool
    • after image as halo in Drumming solo by Brice Leroux
  • TIME: automatic and unconscious chromatic recalibration of the eye’s receptors leading to interpretable or deceptive information: progressive manipulation of the vision:
    • MaybeForever by Meg Stuart & Philipp Gemacher
      • 9 “states” in 1 meta transition…. timely representation of the performance’s dramaturgy
      • slowly leading into extreme state (sepia or end flat monochrome): light defining time defining light
      • rather swift pivoting point out of the sepia makes the contrast much stronger (after sepia new normality while unconsciously missing color information)