TurkoTek Discussion Boards

Subject  :  Back to lighting
Author  :  Wendel Swan mailto:%20wdswan@erols.com
Date  :  01-17-2001 on 12:28 p.m.
Dear all,

Anyone who has tried to see the great carpets at the V+A might feel the need to wear sunglasses when they visit the Textile Museum. The V+A carpets appear as mere dark rectangles (we might call them the Ardebil and Chelsea browns) while objects in remodeled sections are properly lit.

The Museum for Textiles in Toronto, which is a private museum, has entirely different standards for touching and lighting its objects. And access to their storage can be readily arranged, I believe.

One approach suggested by some lighting specialists is to focus light on the objects at museum standards while reducing the ambient light. This gives the impression that the objects have more light on them than they actually do.

I remember seeing the Goldman ikats both in Boston and here in Washington. Perhaps it was because the BMFA setting was more intimate or perhaps it was because I sensed that ambient light had been reduced, but the effect was much more pleasing in Boston that it was here at the Sackler. Ironically, Julia Bailey preferred the Sackler installation.

It seems to me that many of the complaints about lighting voiced by the collectors are due to inattention by the host institutions: inattention to technology in bulbs and filters, inattention to sensors, inattention to techniques and perhaps inattention to the consequences of having a single lighting standard for so many different objects. The V+A clearly seems to be an example of inattention in all areas. At other institutions, the inattention may be due to a lack of funds. Perhaps when the going gets tough, the tough should get creative.


Subject  :  Re:Back to lighting
Author  :  Steve Price mailto:%20sprice@hsc.vcu.edu
Date  :  01-17-2001 on 01:05 p.m.
Dear Wendel,

Reducing the ambient lighting to let the modestly lit objects look brighter is a clever approach to solving the problems. It takes advantage of the fact that our eyes adapt to low light levels - that's why you can begin to see in dimly lit rooms after a few minutes. It's cheap, requires no sensors or switches to automatically turn lights on and off, and should come close to satisfying the viewer if done right.

Steve Price

Subject  :  Re:Back to lighting
Author  :  Jerry Silverman mailto:%20rug_books@silvrmn.com
Date  :  01-17-2001 on 07:29 p.m.
Your posting jogged my memory, Wendel.

When the Goldman Ikats were at the Art Institute here in Chicago, they were brightly lighted. (Now I know that "brightly" means different things to different people. Let me just say that the lighting in the rooms was no different in the exhibition space than in the rest of the musuem.)

Non-ruggies who visited the exhibition with me were gobsmacked by the beauty and vividness of the textiles. I was gobsmacked by the fact that you could see them at all.



Subject  :  Re:Back to lighting
Author  :  Richard Farber mailto:%20farberr@netvision.net.il
Date  :  01-18-2001 on 12:04 a.m.

agreed that lower ambient lighting would allow for an improved view of the textiles but the institutions would have to be very careful about obsticals in the path of the public. People falling down stairs or over chairs is not in the public interest.

I also would like to ask [Steve might know]is our perception of color is an absolute or is it not related to intensity. In sound "a" 440 cycles per second is "a" 440 cycles per second whether heard loud or soft for some of us.

In other words do we perceive a textile color palet in the same way under different conditions. I don't mean the 'intensity of the color or whether is seems vibrant or saturation but its frequency. Does a green that we know as green number 1234 seem like another green in another light?

Richard Farber

Subject  :  Intensity and perception
Author  :  Steve Price mailto:%20sprice@hsc.vcu.edu
Date  :  01-18-2001 on 06:11 a.m.
Dear Richard,

You raise some good points; quality of a sensory perception and intensity of the stimulus are related.

Our eyes have two kinds of sensory receptors, rods and cones. The rods only provide information in black and white, but are very sensitive at low light levels. The cones give us color vision, but are not very sensitive to low light intensities. So as light intensity goes down, color vision gives way to black and white. Thus, the use of lowered intensity overall as a way to enhance the modest light on an object has to be carefully adjusted. And, since the cones are not uniformly sensitive to light of all colors, perceptions of some colors will fall off before others. That, of course, will change color quality, since most colors are actually mixtures.

Likewise for sound, by the way. The 440 Hz tone may be more or less independent of intensity, but our perception of low frequencies falls off at low intensity much more dramatically than our perception of mid frequencies (like 440 Hz), so a chord will change quality as intensity changes. Also, since perception of high frequencies falls off with advancing age, you whippersnappers actually hear different sounds than us old timers, particularly overtones of high frequencies.

Steve Price

Subject  :  Re:Back to lighting
Author  :  Yon Bard mailto:%20doryon@rcn.com
Date  :  01-18-2001 on 09:35 a.m.
One problem with lighting rugs is that for many of them even 'normal' levels of lighting are insufficient: they need full sunlight or strong spotlights to bring out the full beauty of their colors. Only a system where a viewer can turn on a spotlight (that turns off automatically after a while) will do them justice.

Regards, Yon

Subject  :  Re:Back to lighting
Author  :  Wendel Swan mailto:%20wdswan@erols.com
Date  :  01-18-2001 on 11:30 a.m.
Dear Yon and Steve,

I can corroborate Steve's comments about light and color perception only with anecdotal evidence - my own non-scientific experience.

In our living room, I have track lighting with about 20 fixtures with MR-16 halogens, all but one of which are 20-watt bulbs. For the spread, I use a mixture of narrow spots and very narrow spots. They are all on a dimmer. We display mostly small bags with one light focused on them, but some objects (such as a 7-foot rug) require up to five lights.

I have heard some say that MR-16's impart a green cast to objects due to some deterioration in the bulbs over time. I have not experienced that.

Not only would turning the lights up to full capacity be harmful over the long run, it is also counterproductive. During daylight hours, the halogen light at the setting I use at night is almost imperceptible. By using my own improvised baffles, the light is concentrated on the rugs. Ambient light is reduced.

In my opinion, the rugs look the best at night when ambient light is at its lowest and when the halogens are also at a lower brightness. Other technical writers in the field support the effect Steve has described.

Some readers may recall Davide Halevim's theatrical presentation of his extraordinary rugs at the ICOC in Milan. In that instance, the display, while intriguing, provided too little ambient light for comfort, but the effect was stunning.

The current exhibition of Chavin textiles at the Textile Museum carries the reduction of ambient light to nearly such an extreme (walls create narrow passageways with a cave-like effect). Perhaps because these painted cloths were judged to be more light-sensitive than other textiles, the light on them seemed to be reduced below levels otherwise used.


Subject  :  Re:Back to lighting
Author  :  Sara Wolf mailto:%20sjcenik@aol.com
Date  :  01-18-2001 on 06:34 p.m.
Good points by all. Indeed, much of lighting IS personal perception. I do take issue with the idea that lighting someone doesn't like is "inattention" by museum staff. It all boils down to dollars. Some museums have more, some less. In general, it is my impression that most museum personnel try to do the best they can given what they have to work with. This is not an excuse, it's a fact of life.

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