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Technical environment
Technical environment
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Light for seeing, inspecting and looking at

Ambient luminescence

Light for seeing, inspecting and looking at

Kelly called the first and foundational form of light "ambient luminescence". This is the element of light that provides general illumination of the surroundings; it ensures that the surrounding space, its objects and the people there are visible. This form of lighting facilitates general orientation and activity. Its universal and uniform orientation means that it largely follows along the same lines as quantitative lighting design, except that ambient luminescence is not the final objective but just the foundation for a more comprehensive lighting design. The aim is not to produce blanket illumination, or "one size fits all" lighting at the supposed optimum illuminance level, but to have differentiated lighting that builds on the base layer of the ambient light.

Focal glow

Light for seeing, inspecting and looking at

To arrive at a differentiation, Kelly came up with a second form of light, which he referred to as "focal glow". This is where light is first given the express task of actively helping to convey information. The fact that brightly lit areas automatically draw our attention now comes into consideration. By using a suitable brightness distribution it is possible to order the wealth of information contained in an environment. Areas containing essential information can be emphasised by accented lighting, whereas secondary or distracting information can be toned down by applying a lower lighting level. This facilitates a fast and accurate flow of information, whereby the visual environment is easily recognised in terms of its structures and the significance of the objects it contains. This applies just as equally to orientation within the space (e.g. the ability to distinguish quickly between a main entrance and a side door) as for emphasising certain objects, such as when presenting goods for sale or when highlighting the most valuable sculpture in a collection.

Play of brilliants

Light for seeing, inspecting and looking at

The third form of light, "play of brilliants", results from the insight that light not only draws our attention to information, but can also represent information in and of itself. This applies above all to the specular effects that point light sources can produce on reflective or refractive materials. Furthermore, the light source itself can also be considered to be brilliant. This "play of brilliants" can add life and ambiance, especially to prestigious venues. What was traditionally produced by chandeliers and candlelight can now be achieved in a modern lighting design by the targeted use of light sculptures or by creating brilliant effects on illuminated materials.

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