Author Archives: Shaan Bahra

Zen and Jimotsu

In Japanese Buddhism, including Zen, and particularly in sculpture and painting, there exists an elaborate system of religious symbols known as jimotsu (or jibutsu). These symbols appear, often in the grasp of an associated deity, to signify different roles the deity may play in defending the Buddhist faith, teaching devotees, reprimanding deviants, and comforting the suffering. The list below details just a few of these, and gives hints to their relation to the concept of light in Buddhism. However, jimotsurarely appear exclusively in one context; they are seen together with various deities, and many have multiple meanings. The 1000-Armed Kannon, for instance, is often shown holding numerous of these elements and accessories.

  • Mirror
    Providing mere reflection, the mirror demonstrates the illusion of life, and thus the unenlightened mind that is captivated thereby. It can, however, be positively interpreted as a sign of the resolve to dispel that illusion.
  • Moon Disk (Gachirin)
    A perfect circular, usually white disk representing the full moon, the moon disk appears as a symbol of the perfect virtue and omniscience of the Buddha. In the Esoteric Buddhist “Kongōkai Mandala” nine deities are shown, each seated in a full-moon disk. The symbol is also held to have a curative influence on fever and a cooling effect on the body, and accordingly talismans of this symbol are used by those suffering from hyperthermic conditions. It is associated with the Bodhisattva of Lunar Radiance, “Gakkō.”
  • Sun Disk (Nichirin)
    In turn the sign of “Nikkō Bosatsu,” the Bodhisattva of Solar Radiance, is a circular, usually red disc. Whereas the moon disk sometimes is shown with a rabbit figure inscribed (the “moon rabbit” being an instance of cultural pareidolia similar to the West’s “man in the moon”), in the sun disk is sometimes seen the image of a three-legged crow-like bird. Believed to be curative of eye ailments and a dispeller of darkness, the sun disk is also used as a talisman called “Nissei Manishu,” for related medical purposes.
  • Wish-fulfilling Jewel
    This jewel appears as one or three, the latter case corresponding to the “Three Jewels of Buddhism:” Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha. Though symbolizing an incorporeal power to grant wishes, end suffering, and communicate Dharma (these gifts collectively conceived of as “wealth”), the jewel also appears within an aureole of flame. Also called the “Mani Jewel,” it was in the writings of Guifeng Zongmi that this symbol’s multiple interpretations were used to differentiate four major Zen schools. The Heze School was said to appreciate the jewel’s supposed shroud of blackness as but an illusory form of its brightness—luster and dullness being for them as one; the Hongzhou School said of this blackness instead that it was the very jewel itself, and the jewel’s “purity” was what was hidden; the Ox Head School would have said, according to Guifeng, that the jewel and its brilliant appearance were inherently empty; and the Northern School is claimed to have believed the jewel’s fundamental purity must be approached ever more closely by cleaning and polishing.

select research Copyright Mark Schumacher,
http://www.onmarkproductions.com/html/objects-symbols-weapons-senju.html

Biophilia Essays: Brigade Gateway

Brigade Gateway_4
Brigade Gateway Complex

Brigade Gateway_1

In this integrated lifestyle enclave, one might expect a super-stimulatory artificial environment of advertisements and commercial infrastructure. Instead, the space is centered on water and trees, and it incorporates related imagery throughout. For the façade of the Orion Mall, situated on the site, the client’s initial desire for a “feel of ‘Times Square’” was satisfied without the need for a full-wall back-lit billboard. Opting instead for a custom wall art piece entitled the “Tree of Life” using color-controlled lights and a luminous “moon” element synchronized with the lunar cycle, AWA balanced spectacle with the natural surroundings. Though the moon itself is essentially inorganic, its regular cycle of 29½ days so influences the rhythms of terrestrial life forms and life systems that it becomes an object of biophilia, too. Extending the theme of pseudo-natural light, a reflective golden sun element directly mirrors the moon on the façade, and the entire façade lighting scheme for the project recalls its inspiration: the glow of the setting sun striking the buildings. The shadows created by the five-storey embossing of the tree of life, the wall’s ornamental centerpiece, mimic the filtering of light through foliage.Brigade Gateway_2

Indeed the idea of the tree canopy is present elsewhere in the design of the space, as well. One of the key focal points of the outdoor space is the 200 year-old rain tree, seen to best advantage when “moon lit” by powerful lamps on the roof of the World Trade Center, the complex’s tallest building. This powerful yet broadly diffused light imitates the light of the moon, ensures the safety of users of the outdoor space at all times of night, and eliminates the need for “harsh ‘area’ lighting.” The dappling of light through foliage was kept in mind when lighting the extensive tree plantings and pathways surrounding the body of water at the theater’s center.
Brigade Gateway_3

Biophilic Design

“Biophilic design” can refer to several trends in modern “green” design, but in most uses it indicates a design principle that goes beyond merely minimizing the impact of the built environment to create actual close contact between users and the “natural” world. By inviting nature into the design, whether through biomimicry, green curtain walls, extensive natural lighting (or simulations thereof), multi-species accessibility, or the like, a design reengages occupants with the environmental elements that may be inherently intertwined with our phylogenetic predispositions.

Jung vs. Tanizaki

Light and dark possess powerful connotations for the figures of psychologist Carl Jung and novelist Jun’ichiro Tanizaki. Jung wrote that “the sole purpose of human existence is to kindle a light in the darkness of mere being;” Tanizaki that “were it not for shadows, there would be no beauty.” The views of these two may not conflict to such an extent as they first seem, however.

Tanizaki

“[W]e orientals [ ] tend to seek our satisfactions in whatever surroundings we happen to find ourselves, to content ourselves with things as they are; and so darkness causes us no discontent, we resign ourselves to it as inevitable. If light is scarce then light is scarce; we will immerse ourselves in the darkness and there discover its own particular beauty. But the progressive westerner is determined always to better his lot. From candle to oil lamp, oil lamp to gaslight, gaslight to electric light – his quest for a brighter light never ceases, he spares no pains to eradicate even the minutest shadow.”

– Jun’ichiro Tanizaki

Alila Diwa Resort, Goa (Photographer: Ali Rangoonwala)

Alila Diwa Resort, Goa (Photographer: Ali Rangoonwala)

With his seminal essay In Praise of Shadows (In’ei Raisan), Jun’ichiro Tanizaki pleaded on behalf of the virtues of natural, soft light as opposed to the bright, all-illuminating electrical lighting that he associated with a western capitalist aesthetic. Light is not, to Tanizaki, simply bright or dim. It contains also aspects of gleam or glitter, various kinds of illumination of which we ought to be mindful. Even when light can be said to be defective, as a patina on silver or a knot in an otherwise straight grain of a piece of wood is “defective,” the appreciation of that defect becomes of greater importance than its rectification or obscuration. This view relates closely to another distinctly Japanese aesthetic: “wabi-sabi,” an emanation of Buddhist philosophy that values impermanence and asymmetry as aspects of “the inherent beauty of imperfection.”

Jung

“Everyone carries a shadow and the less it is embodied in the individual’s conscious life, the blacker and denser it is. In spite of its function as a reservoir for human darkness—or perhaps because of this—the shadow is the seat of creativity.”
– Carl Jung

Blue Frog Mumbai (Photographer: Fram Petit)

Blue Frog Mumbai (Photographer: Fram Petit)

In Jungian psychology, the shadow or “shadow aspect” is a part of the unconscious mind consisting of repressed weaknesses, shortcomings, and instincts. Jung may have been hastily interpreted, however, if he is taken as abhorring darkness. Jung in fact implied that light begets dark—the two are inseparable and interdependent. “Filling the conscious mind with ideal conceptions is a characteristic of western theosophy, but not the confrontation with the shadow and the world of darkness. One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light,” he argued in The Philosophical Tree, “but by making the darkness conscious.” The suggestion herein is that symbolic “light” is of value; however, it cannot be engendered without darkness, and sometimes darkness can be even more revealing than light.

Darkness & Light in Design

These aesthetic principles proclaiming the equal importance of the dark and the light are readily applicable to architecture, as two AWA projects exemplify. In the BlueFROG Club, the focus is on music and sound, and the shadowy environment accentuates it—while also creating a cool, mysterious ambiance to suit the space’s intended audience.

In the Alila Diwa Resort in Goa, India, shadow dramatizes a romantic, exclusive atmosphere. Vernacular architecture incorporated into the resort is lent an aura of mysticism by the dark, as in the upper reaches of a high ceiling or in the regular bays along a colonnade. Often, less really is more, as darkness adds to the poetry and soul of a project.

Blue Frog Mumbai (Photographer: Fram Petit)

Blue Frog Mumbai (Photographer: Fram Petit)

In the Alila Diwa Resort in Goa, India, shadow dramatizes a romantic, exclusive atmosphere. Vernacular architecture incorporated into the resort is lent an aura of mysticism by the dark, as in the upper reaches of a high ceiling or in the regular bays along a colonnade. Often, less really is more, as darkness adds to the poetry and soul of a project.

Alila Diwa Resort Goa (Photographer: Ali Rangoonwala)

Alila Diwa Resort Goa (Photographer: Ali Rangoonwala)

Biophilia Essays: Tote

Biophilia means “love of living things” and is a term coined by German psychologist Erich Fromm in his book The Anatomy of Human Destructiveness (1973). It was subsequently made popular in Edward O. Wilson’s Biophilia (1984), in which Wilson proposed that humans’ fixation with living systems has its basis in biology, as well as in later literature. Of course, neither Fromm nor Wilson was the first to suggest such an affinity or even that it was an essential part of human nature; however, under the name of “biophilia” the idea would go on to spark a series of cultural movements, from conservation efforts to stylistic philosophies of architecture and design.

Biophilic Design

“Biophilic design” can refer to several trends in modern “green” design, but in most uses it indicates a design principle that goes beyond merely minimizing the impact of the built environment to create actual close contact between users and the “natural” world. By inviting nature into the design, whether through biomimicry, green curtain walls, extensive natural lighting (or simulations thereof), multi-species accessibility, or the like, a design reengages occupants with the environmental elements that, according to Wilson, are inherently intertwined with our genetic predispositions.

Featured Project: Tote

In seeking a germ of inspiration that could guide a coherent lighting solution, through numerous design discussions, AWA and the project architects arrived at the image of “day light filtering through dense foliage.” This seed was nurtured systematically: from special rasterizations of photographs of tree canopies, the designers were able to extract a simple pattern of light and branches to implement in the physical space of the building. White metal columns mimic trees branching into the ceiling of the banqueting and indoor restaurant spaces.Tote_1

More than mere sculptural additions, these column elements are lit by “pockets of light” that, through organic placement and recessing of the fixtures, recall sunlight filtering in dappled patterns through foliage.Tote_3

Even in the secluded, dimly lit bar, directional light on the faceted, double-height wooden wall panels suggests shafts of daylight.
Tote_2

Color Shift

COLOR SHIFT

  • Aging UV exposure may cause plastics to change color
  • Operating conditions and contaminants in the atmosphere may cause color changes

MACADAM ELLIPSE

  • Defines the color point specification of lamps
  • Guidelines for how a person can distinguish between similar colors
  • 2 step ellipse: 2 times the just noticeable difference in color

BINING

  • Measure the output of the LEDs AND sort them into various ranges, or bins, before sale, based on color and flux
  • Size and range of colors of the bins is critical to determine how close a match the LEDs will have to each other and the color variation between units
  • All supplied LEDs must fall within a 2 step macadam ellipse [lm-79 and lm-80 of IESNA]

COLOR RENDERING INDEX

  • Measure of color fidelity
  • Does not account for object color shifts that increase color saturation which can enhance visual preferences, color discrimination ability and visual clarity

COLOR QUALITY SCALE

  • Being developed by the national institute of standards and technology to be considered for the TC 1-69
  • Ability to account for the direction of object color shifts
  • Represents the overall color quality of products for all types of light sources

The Meaning of Colors

RED

  • 700nm
  • 2nd most visible color
  • Red areas perceived as moving forward
  • Lymph system and skeletal system
  • Love and aggression

ORANGE

  • 650nm
  • Pride, ambition
  • Reproductive system
  • Stimulates activity, appetite and socialization

YELLOW

  • 600nm
  • Luminous and most visible color
  • Power center- above navel
  • Mentally stimulating, activates memory, encourages communication

GREEN

  • 550nm
  • Nature, prosperity, healing, fertility
  • Heart chakra
  • Soothing, alleviates depression and anxiety, renewal and harmony

BLUE

  • 500nm
  • Sharply refracted by the eyes
  • Pushing the image back to appear receding
  • Appetite suppressant
  • Calming, aids intuition

INDIGO

  • 450nm
  • Inner self, spiritual
  • Eyes, ears, nose brain

VIOLET

  • 400nm
  • Most powerful wavelength
  • Crown chakra: head, brain, nervous system
  • Uplifting, calming, encourages creativity, meditation

WHITE

  • Purity, cleanliness
  • Aids mental clarity
  • Purification of thoughts and actions
  • Fresh beginnings

BLACK

  • Authoritative, powerful
  • Inconspicuous, mysterious evoking potential and possibility
  • Restful emptiness

BROWN

  • Stable, reliable, approachable
  • Wholesomeness
  • Connection to Earth
  • Orderliness
Blue Frog: AWA Lighting Designers project

Blue Frog: AWA Lighting Designers project

Defining Shadows and Darkness

“It is necessary to return to the point where the interplay of light and dark reveals forms, and in this way to bring richness back into architectural space. Yet, the richness and depth of darkness has disappeared from our consciousness, and the subtle nuances that light and darkness engender, their spatial resonance – these are almost forgotten. Today, when all is cast in homogenous light, I am committed to pursuing the interrelationship of light and darkness . Light, whose beauty within darkness is as of jewels that one might cup in one’s hands; light that, hollowing out darkness and piercing our bodies, blows life into ‘place’.”

– Tadao Ando (1990)

AWA Lighting Designers project: Cyber Hub

AWA Lighting Designers project: Cyber Hub

 

Impact of Temperature on Light

When fixtures and lighting systems are tested under the IEC 60598, the ambient temperature is kept close to 25 degree centigrade and 65% relative humidity. After injecting the right voltage, the fixture is kept burning for four hours. In this time the temperature rise of the various components used in the fitting would have stabilized, and the temperature rise recorded through the help of thermocouples fixed to the various parts of the fitting. From this set of data, the release of the fitting is decided.  If the fitting is found suitable for 25 deg. Ambient (Outdoor) and 35Deg. Ambient for indoor, it is cleared for sale, as the temperature in Europe never exceeds these temperatures. However, in other parts of the world, the temperatures are usually much higher.

  • Fixtures are currently tested between 20°c and 30°c which is not adequate.
  • Under the IEC 60598 [25°c, 65% RH], the fixture is lit for four hours until the temperature is stabilized.
  • If the fitting is found suitable for 25°c [outdoor] and 35°c [indoor] conditions, it is cleared for sale.
  • Europe rarely exceeds these conditions but other parts of the world do.

Impact of Humidity on Light

Some areas have almost 90% humidity through several months of the year. The humidity in the air coupled with water in the ground means that all components of a lighting system need to be addressed as a complete system to ensure proper functioning. The water/ humidity finds the weakest link in the system and creeps through to the other parts via capillary action which has an adverse impact on the functioning and life of the components.

Choice of hardware must also be informed by whether the environment is near the ocean, as the salines will then have an adverse impact on the componentry.

  • Humidity coupled with ground water means that all components of a lighting system must be addressed
  • Water finds the weakest link in the system and seeps through via capillary action
  • Alia Diwa Resort Goa:
    • Wiring processes: use of glands, mastic tapes and silicone fills essential to keep humidity and ground water out
    • Salinity has an adverse impact on the componentry.

Symbolism of Light

Apart from the philosophical connotations that light posses, it also is utilized throughout many cultures around the world as both a literal and metaphorical symbol. The Yin and Yang is one of the best examples of this concept as discussed previously, but there are many others as well. When different world religions are analyzed from a lighting perspective, it can be seen that different cultures and religions view light through its symbolic nature. Several global holidays use the symbolism of light as a marking of celebration. Following are some holidays which use light for its symbolism.

In Buddhism light is used as a symbol in the ritual of the eight offerings where it plays a central role. Apart from Buddhism, Islam also uses light as a symbol, most visually through its interpretation of ‘the lamp’ in the Qur’an;

“God is the Light of the heavens and the earth.
The Parable of His Light is as if there were a Niche and within it a Lamp
the Lamp enclosed in Glass: the glass as it were a brilliant star
Lit from a blessed Tree, an Olive, neither of the east nor of the West,
whose oil is well-nigh luminous, though fire scarce touched it
Light upon Light! God doth guide whom He will to His Light
God doth set forth Parables for men: and God doth know all things.”

Another symbol commonly used if the candlelight as a symbol of wisdom. In our physical world we see things through the medium of light. If we do not have sun or electric light, this world is so dark that we cannot see anything. In our spiritual and mental world the physical light cannot help us to see. We see only through wisdom. We may stumble many times in daily life because we lack ‘light’ and ‘wisdom’. Light in this sense can also be translated into a more eastern sensibility through the term ‘enlightenment’. Jung writes in the foreword to An Introduction to Japanese Buddhism;

“This strange perception is called Satori, and may be translated as “Enlightenment”. Suzuki says (see page 95), “Satori is the raison d’etre of Zen, and without it there is no Zen.” It should not be too difficult for the Western mind to grasp what a mystic understands by “enlightenment”, or what is known as “enlightenment” in religious parlance.”

Religion:

• When different world religions are analyzed from a lighting perspective, different cultures and religions view light for its symbolic nature. Several of the global holidays use the symbolism of light celebration. In the images that will be shared in the talk, the following are the different holidays which use light for its symbolism.

Symbols of Light:

• Obon Festival [Japan]

• Hanukkah

• Loy Krathong [Thailand]

• Diwali

• Paper Lantern Festival [Singapore]

• Christmas

• Ramadan

• Cathedral of Light 1936

• Tribute in Light, New York

• Symphony of Lights, Hong Kong

• SRBS Bridge, Dubai