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Open Air art project in Philadelphia

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#1 Dark Sky Scott

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Posted 27 August 2012 - 03:45 PM

Have you seen this?

http://associationfo...t.org/open-air/

It is an "art" project involving search lights in Philadelphia, PA.

IDA just put out a statement on it, which I have copied below (Full disclosure, I am the Managing Director at IDA and I wrote the press release that is quoted.):

Open Air Art Project Sends Wrong Message about Light at Night

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

27 August 2012. TUCSON, AZ – The International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) is extremely concerned about the Open Air art project that will use twenty-four “powerful searchlights” to “create unique, dynamic light formations in the sky”. The project, taking place in Philadelphia, PA from September 20 to October 14, will reportedly be visible up to ten miles away. It represents a tremendous waste of energy and is damaging to the nighttime environment.

We hope that the Association for Public Art and artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer are aware of the numerous problems created by the frivolous use of artificial light at night. Improper artificial night lighting is a globally recognized problem. Bad lighting, which, sadly, is embodied by “Open Air”, affects far more than the ability to see the stars clearly. Bad lighting in all its forms is a waste of energy, natural resources, and money. Ecosystems are affected as navigation systems and other biological processes of nocturnal animals are disrupted. Artificial lighting affects the 24-hour cycle regulating sleep patterns known as the circadian rhythm in wildlife and humans. For these reasons, many communities work to control unnecessary light and have outright banned the use searchlights such as those that will be used for the Open Air project.

Poorly used artificial light at night is one of the most conspicuous forms of energy waste worldwide. Open Air represents an excessive and unnecessary use of light and according to their website employs “the world’s brightest searchlights”.

The project’s website further claims that “The lateral light pollution generated by the beams is much smaller than any street light.“ It is hard to reconcile that statement as the project will be visible up to ten miles away. It would seem that claim is only possible because most streets lights focus their light downward and not laterally or directly up into the sky.

Beaming light into the sky can be fatal to birds, insects, and other nocturnal wildlife. The light creates a dangerous and detrimental attraction to area wildlife, especially to migratory birds. IDA appreciates that the project has consulted with Audubon Pennsylvania in an attempt to minimize the impact on birds, especially since it will be taking place during fall bird migration.

The project perpetuates the myth that excessive and unnecessary light at night is acceptable. The International Dark-Sky Association would welcome the opportunity to provide information to the Association for Public Art and Rafael Lozano-Hemmer on light pollution and how to become a positive force in the campaign to improve lighting worldwide.

The project is described in detail on the Association for Public Art’s website at http://associationfo....org/open-air/.


#2 TOM O

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Posted 27 August 2012 - 05:47 PM

I posted a note under "add a positive comment" thread that Dave Fuller started. My comment is pending approval. In this case, the positive comment goes against this idea.....
Tom

http://www.knightart...elphia#comment-

#3 Fred1

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Posted 29 August 2012 - 05:26 PM

I have written emails to the Knights Foundation about this and have informed the astronomy clubs in my area. The content of my email is as follows, addressed specifically to president and CEO.

"Twenty-four searchlights, pointing up, polluting what little is left of the Philadelphia night skies for a 10 mile radius from its point of origin on the Parkway for almost four weeks, every night, is not an encouraging overture "to save public space to bring it back to the public," as Lozano-Hemmer claims for his Open Air Project. His opinion of the minimum impact to migratory birds by working with the Pennsylvania Audubon Society is a mere token, the proverbial bone thrown to those concerned, and reveals a near complete lack of understanding of the growing body of scientific evidence in support of the preservation of the night sky, not just for its natural beauty, but for the disruption of biological processes of animals (including humans) and the waste of energy and natural resources.

It is an insult to all who appreciate the inspiring sweep of the night sky and to the significant efforts of those who are actively working to preserve it, such as the International Dark Sky Association and more locally, the Pennsylvania Outdoor Lighting Council which is presently engaged in preserving the night sky in areas not far from Philadelphia. The insult is extended to the townships and the counties surrounding Philadelphia that have adapted outdoor lighting ordinances or have initiated good lighting practices specifically for the aforementioned purposes.

Lozano-Hemmer's insensitivity is inexcusable, despite his claims of minimal environmental impact and a professed appreciation of the night sky, his statement about the event, "... that messages will only be censored through crowd-sourcing on the website 'Moronic content is important because this is a public space....' " is justification only for the lowest forms of expression.

There were substantial financial resources dedicated to the Open Air Project. The human resources associated with it should utilize more imagination. The public benefits of the night sky can be better realized. Reducing unnecessary artificial light within the city is the best place to start. There are organizations as mentioned earlier that can help inform about suppressing unnecessary light. Also, consider coordinating efforts with astronomy clubs, similar to what Dr. Derrick Pitts of the Franklin Institute pursues several times a year, but with greater endeavor and on a grander scale. Such programs help engage and inform the public in what the night sky offers to all, a light show that is free to everyone.

Please, in the future, consider the full impact of how donated dollars are spent."

Edit: I sent a written letter via USPS with the same stated content this morning. I encourage all who visit this forum to do similarly. Paper mail gets read. Emails too often get lost in all the "noise" from spam and junk email. Send it to the attention of
The Chairman
c/o John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
Suite 3300
200 South Biscayne Boulevard
Miami, FL. 33131-2349

#4 barasits

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Posted 29 August 2012 - 10:55 PM

Outstanding, Fred!

Geoff

#5 csrlice12

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Posted 30 August 2012 - 08:18 AM

Their web site actually allows you to leave a comment about the project. Needless to say, mine wasn't very supportive of the project.

#6 csa/montana

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Posted 30 August 2012 - 09:09 AM

Tom, thanks for that link; I was looking for a place to add a comment; which I did, & is awaiting approval, also. It was definitely NOT in support of this "art" project! :smirk:

#7 csrlice12

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Posted 30 August 2012 - 09:43 AM

Just to think that the money spent on this could have been spent on replacing/modifying existing lighting that more focuses it's beams down instead of up.

#8 csa/montana

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Posted 30 August 2012 - 10:53 AM

7 replies against this "show", and one by the Assoc. for Public Art, praising it. :p

Here's the link again, for those that wish to post their comments:

Link

#9 RonUwood

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Posted 30 August 2012 - 01:07 PM

My comment is under "rongto", thanks for bringing this to our attention.

Ron

#10 csa/montana

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Posted 30 August 2012 - 01:58 PM

:waytogo:

Thanks Ron!

#11 Dark Sky Scott

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Posted 30 August 2012 - 03:41 PM

On our website, http://www.darksky.org, IDA just posted a letter about this by light pollution researcher Christopher Kyba. It is worth reading.

#12 TOM O

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Posted 30 August 2012 - 04:24 PM

Here's an interesting group in Philadelphia. Wonder what they think?

http://www.rittenhou...calsociety.org/

#13 Dark Sky Scott

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Posted 30 August 2012 - 05:02 PM

Have you seen this from Astronomy's Dave Eicher?

http://cs.astronomy....-even-more.aspx

#14 RobbW

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Posted 30 August 2012 - 10:54 PM

It's been a long week at work. I needed a place to relieve some of my stress and figured posting a comment on the article that TOM O linked to would do the trick. I was feeling a bit silly and decided to take a "different" approach. Currently, my comment is awaiting moderation. I have a sneaky suspicion it may not get approved. They'll probably claim it was too long or infringed on copyrights or something like that. If it falls to the cutting room floor, I'll repost my comment here.

#15 RobbW

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Posted 31 August 2012 - 08:36 AM

As I suspected, my comment was not approved! Oh well. I'll repost it here. I was just having a little bit of fun. A wink and a nod to you Monty Python fans!


Rafael: Good evenin’, your grace.

Pope: Good evening, Rafael. I want to have a word with you about this “Open Air” project of yours.

Rafael: Oh, yes?

Pope: I’m not happy with it.

Rafael: Oh dear. It took hours!

Pope: No, not happy at all.

Rafael: Does the voice-controlled app worry you?

Pope: Nope.

Rafael: No, it adds a bit of participatory fun, doesn’t it? Oh I know. You don’t like the Rocky Balboa-themed dancing statuettes.

Pope: What statuettes?

Rafael: I’ll alter it, no sweat.

Pope: I never saw any Rocky statuettes.

Rafael: Well they’re right over near the museum. But, I’ll swap them out, no problem. I’ll replace them with searchlights.

Pope: Ah!

Rafael: All right now?

Pope: That’s the problem.

Rafael: What is?

Pope: The searchlights.

Rafael: Are they too bluish? I made the spinning ones the most bluish.

Pope: No, no, it’s just that there are twenty-four of them.

Rafael: Well, another dozen would hardly be noticed then. So I’ll change the Rockies into searchlights…

Pope: No, no.

Rafael: Well, all right, all right, we’ll lose the Rockies altogether then. I don’t mind. I was never completely happy with them.

Pope: That’s not the point. There are twenty-four searchlights!

Rafael: Too many?

Pope: Well of course it’s too many!

Rafael: Well in a way, but I wanted to give the impression of a huge open-air art exhibition, you know. A true sky painting, not just on any old canvas, but a proper visual treat, a real mother of a light show.

Pope: But we can only see twelve of the brightest stars in the night sky as it is!

Rafael: Well supposing some of the others went supernova.

Pope: The migratory birds will be blinded and disoriented!

Rafael: Well maybe they can fly west this winter! Don’t worry. We’ll pay homage to them with a few bird calls.

Pope: There are emerging links between light-at-night and cancer. The American Medical Association clearly says so.

Rafael: No bird calls?

Pope: No bird calls.

Rafael: Turkeys?

Pope: No.

Rafael: Farting cows?

Pope: NO!

Rafael: Well, you see, I like them. They light up the night sky. I mean, I suppose we could lose three or four of them. You know, dim one or two…

Pope: There should only be stars in the night sky…

Rafael: I’ve got it! I’ve got it! We’ll call it the “Midnight Sun”.

Pope: What?

Rafael: We’ll just pretend we’re in Alaska. I mean, the Inuits survive just fine without night for six months at a stretch, right?

Pope: Yes, but…

Rafael: Right! So this is the “Midnight Sun”. The AMA doesn’t issue any warnings about Alaska’s six months of light at night, does it?

Pope: No, but…

Rafael: Yeah, well there you are!

Pope: Look, a starry night sky is a significant natural wonder for the entire world to enjoy. Your blasted “Midnight Sun” is not. Even if you had Lady Gaga and the Tabernacle Choir controlling the lights themselves! Now, I commissioned a painting of the night sky from you, and a starry night sky I want.

Rafael: Yeah, but look…

Pope: With twinkling stars and NO searchlights.

Rafael: NONE?!?!

Pope: Yes, none! Now will you please tell me what in God’s name possessed you to light up the night sky with twenty-four hellishly bright searchlights?!

Rafael: It works, mate!

Pope: It does not work!

Rafael: It does, it looks great! The pulsating ones balance the spinning ones!

Pope: Look, we once could see thousands of stars in the night sky!

Rafael: Well, I know that. Everyone knows that. But what about technological advancement?

Pope: THOUSANDS OF STARS!

Rafael: I’ll tell you what you want, mate. You want a bloody astronomer! Not an egotistical artist with some fancy flashlights!

Pope: I’ll tell you what I want: I want a dark night sky with one Moon, thousands of stars, and no searchlights by Thursday evening, or you don’t get paid!

Rafael: BLOODY ENVIRONMENTALIST!

Pope: Look, I’m the bloody Pope! I may not know much about astrophysics, but I know what I like!

#16 TOM O

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Posted 31 August 2012 - 10:31 AM

RobbW,
That's funny! and sad, too. No surprise they don't want to accept your take on their stupid idea.
As a thought, perhaps you might consider teaming up with Dave Fuller and produce an "Astronomy Theater" show. It would be great to see this expanded a bit and acted out...
His weekly show is building and very entertaining!

Here's a link to Dave's site http://www.eyesonthesky.com/

Sincerely, Tom

#17 RobbW

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Posted 31 August 2012 - 12:43 PM

Thanks, Tom! Yes, I'm familiar with Dave's work. Actually, he's a good astro friend of mine! I'll float the idea by him. I would love a chance to dip my toes into the world of show business!

#18 csrlice12

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Posted 31 August 2012 - 12:53 PM

Thanks, Tom! Yes, I'm familiar with Dave's work. Actually, he's a good astro friend of mine! I'll float the idea by him. I would love a chance to dip my toes into the world of sow business!


There's a guy in Philly who does lighting, maybe we can get one of those AP guys to use their camera.......

#19 GeneT

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Posted 03 September 2012 - 04:44 PM

This is horrible--but at least it has a beginning and end date.

#20 barasits

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Posted 03 September 2012 - 07:35 PM

This is horrible--but at least it has a beginning and end date.


True, but I'm concerned that if this exhibition proves popular it will spawn other light polluting art projects and/or permanent nightly displays of this sort.

Geoff

#21 TOM O

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Posted 03 September 2012 - 08:24 PM

Here's a quote from the organizers of Association for Public Art....

"Rafael Lozano-Hemmer’s projects with interactive lights have been safely and successfully staged in cities all over the world, including Dublin, Hong Kong, Lisbon, Liverpool, Lyon, Montreal, Rotterdam, Toronto, and Vitoria- Gasteiz Spain. The lateral light pollution of the beams is smaller than any street light, advertisement or corporate logo found on Philadelphia’s buildings. Also, the lights are tightly focused and are never pointed towards nearby buildings, flight paths or sensitive ecological areas.

"Open Air" coincides with the peak period of bird migration over Philadelphia. The artist is working with Audubon Pennsylvania and partner organizations in a collaborative effort to minimize and mitigate any effect of the project on migratory birds."

This is on their fb page. https://www.facebook...71940..1&v=wall

#22 Tonk

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Posted 04 September 2012 - 04:42 AM

effort to minimize and mitigate any effect of the project on migratory birds


This is a lttle bit insincere - the best way to mitage this is NOT to do it in the migratory season. I.e. they don't actually care!

#23 Fred1

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Posted 04 September 2012 - 10:41 AM

Just a reminder to new and returning visitors to this thread. Please, see my post (it's 3rd on the first page) and consider sending your opinion to the Knight Foundation. A written letter is always better. Emails tend to get lost in all the noise. Thanks for your help.

#24 TOM O

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Posted 04 September 2012 - 12:42 PM

Carol,
Is there a way to include news about this thread in a way more CNer's can be brought into the loop? Seems like a timely and important issue that should be getting a higher profile. There are astronomy clubs in the region who don't have a clue about this project? Just a thought...
Thanks, Tom

#25 barasits

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Posted 04 September 2012 - 03:23 PM

Just a reminder to new and returning visitors to this thread. Please, see my post (it's 3rd on the first page) and consider sending your opinion to the Knight Foundation. A written letter is always better. Emails tend to get lost in all the noise. Thanks for your help.


Fred is probably right about written letters. Another option is to post comments to the KnightArts web site which has the advantage of reaching a wide audience.

Knight Arts: Preparing for "Open Air" in Philadelphia

The conversation at the Knight Arts site continues. Alas, there is an amateur astronomer defending the "Open Air" project.

Geoff






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