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General Astronomy >> Light Pollution

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TOM O
sage
*****

Reged: 03/30/06

Loc: Joshua Tree CA.
Re: Open Air art project in Philadelphia new [Re: lozanohemmer]
      #5447098 - 09/29/12 04:50 PM

Welcome to this forum, Rafael. Now, if Derrick chose to join in, the discussion group would be complete.

I wish to say that since there is limited restraint regarding personal opinions on these forums, there is fair reason to have thick skin, if you know what I mean. Perhaps the moderator will chime in with a welcome, since you are central to this discussion.

You must realize that the lights in downtown Philly, and all lights, in all downtown areas, are subject to the pressure coming from the dark sky movement. It is not, only, your project. The concept is "ALL UN-NECESSARY LIGHT" is a target of concern for dark sky advocates. We are working to turn off all those un-needed lights.

If you ask Derrick, he may tell you that I had suggested to him that all of the un-necessary lights in Philadelphia and the region be turned off for one night and see if a view of the Milky Way was made possible. I pointed out that it once was. Benjamin Franklin would have seen it every night, in 1785. Dr. Pitts said he would try to do this. I guess the lights you describe are part of that idea.

What do you think about taking the idea to the maximum level and urge the concept of near total darkness to occur and see if your influence, as a celebrity, can achieve such a result? Then, photographing the Milky Way with Independence Hall in the foreground? A first in history. An achievement that will live in the annals of history? An incredible exchange of understanding and communication beyond perception? And, as simple as flipping a few switches...

I can talk to my friend, the astronomy imager, Wally Pacholka, and his friends at TWAN, and perhaps an incredible message can be connected to the effort with incredible results to follow? What do you think? You, as an artist may have caused what you say your art was supposed to do?
Respectfully,
Tom


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csa/montana
Den Mama
*****

Reged: 05/14/05

Loc: montana
Re: Open Air art project in Philadelphia new [Re: TOM O]
      #5447142 - 09/29/12 05:27 PM

Quote:

Perhaps the moderator will chime in with a welcome,




Actually, I Welcome all of our new members that appear in any forums I moderate. I've been away from the computer, so am delayed in my welcome.


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csa/montana
Den Mama
*****

Reged: 05/14/05

Loc: montana
Re: Open Air art project in Philadelphia new [Re: lozanohemmer]
      #5447152 - 09/29/12 05:29 PM

Raphael; Indeed I would like to take this opportunity to Welcome you to Cloudy Nights! Since this discussion centers on your display; it will be good to hear your thoughts & future plans concerning the LP problem, and how your display figures into this.

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TOM O
sage
*****

Reged: 03/30/06

Loc: Joshua Tree CA.
Re: Open Air art project in Philadelphia new [Re: TOM O]
      #5447160 - 09/29/12 05:33 PM

Rafael,
Ps.. The New Moon of October will fall on the 15th. The waning crescent will be very late on the 14th and the night sky will be the darkest since your event began. Perhaps the ideal "Grand Finale" and thoughtful idea to ask the darkness to return, would be to recognize this concept and drive the Milky Way to full awareness and into high gear? Perhaps Dr. Pitts and the citizens of Philadelphia will see some merit in the possibility?


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lozanohemmer
member


Reged: 09/27/12

Re: Open Air art project in Philadelphia new [Re: TOM O]
      #5447233 - 09/29/12 06:23 PM

Thanks Tom for the ideas and Carol for the warm welcome. Just so that you know, we have been lobbying and convincing the traffic and parks divisions of the city to let us turn off all sodium lighting in the Parkway for the entire duration of the Open Air event, but except for Opening Night they have turned us down on the grounds that this would be unsafe for traffic and pedestrians. On opening night we had over 3,000 people in the dark Parkway and of course my opinion is that that makes for a safer not a more dangerous City. Anyhow, at least we have convinced them to turn off Eakins Oval for the Planetarium night but I think it is a wonderful idea to pressure them again to do the whole parkway for the closing of the show, coinciding with the New Moon! I will do my very best! Any pointers or supporters, like TWAN, for this idea helps a lot as I am most certainly *not* a celebrity and my opinion so far has not had enough weight to get the desired darkness.

Respectfully,
Rafael


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barasits
sage


Reged: 06/12/11

Loc: Chicago
Re: Open Air art project in Philadelphia new [Re: lozanohemmer]
      #5447239 - 09/29/12 06:28 PM

Welcome, Rafael. I commend you for coming to CN, but your post contains the same rationalizations offered at the Open Air web site. There is no indication that the criticisms of Open Air have caused you to rethink any aspect of the project.

I can only speak for myself and as I see it the sky is not anyone's personal canvas. Rather, it is shared space, shared not only among people but with wildlife as well. Those who prefer to see the night sky without searchlights have as much right to the sky as those who want to see your light show. Simply put, Open Air deprives the former of their rights.

The scale of Open Air is objectionable--the show runs too long and is outdoors. It might have been excused for its trespass on the rights of those who wish to see the sky without searchlights and for its endangerment of wildlife had it run only a few nights. Obviously, there would have been no objection had your light show been conducted in an enclosed venue. You may counter that the scale (outdoors and for 25 days) is essential to your purpose. But what essential public or private need does Open Air satisfy that rules out an enclosed space? If you argue that the massive scale is absolutely necessary, then you must forgive critics if they see this as more an expression of self-aggrandizement than art.

You argue that those who oppose light pollution should focus their attention on permanent sources. You must know that light pollution opponents are not ignoring permanent sources, therefore what you are really suggesting is that your project be exempted from criticism owing to its relatively small contribution to light pollution. And here we reach what may be the crux of the matter: it is not only the amount of light that matters, but what it symbolizes. I certainly expect artists to appreciate the symbolic content of art. Above and beyond the amount of light that Open Air puts into the sky, the project has been repeatedly taken to task for its message: distain for the natural environment and disregard for the rights of those who do not wish the sky to be used in this way without good reason. You may say that this is not the meaning you intended, but for those who consider the night sky as something sacred, a thing of incredible natural beauty, a resource to be shared by all, the meaning of Open Air is egregious. Making matters worse, the permanent sources of light pollution you cite are inadvertent polluters, i.e., their primary purpose is not to spill light into the night sky. Open Air, by contrast, is deliberately polluting the night sky for no greater purpose than what appears to be gratuitous entertainment.

Light pollution is a serious matter and whether you intended it or not, Open Air serves to trivialize the issue. I'm a firm believer in redemption and I continue to hope that you will come to understand the objections to Open Air and will act to make amends to the extent you are able.

Best regards,

Geoff


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MawkHawk
sage
*****

Reged: 08/23/09

Loc: SE Michigan, USA
Re: Open Air art project in Philadelphia new [Re: barasits]
      #5447352 - 09/29/12 07:48 PM

You can't be part of the solution if you are part of the problem. Simple as that. Rafael, you are trying to sound like you are ant-light pollution while you're creating light pollution. You are trying to sound pro-wildlife while you go about putting migrating birds at risk.

Edited by MawkHawk (09/29/12 07:59 PM)


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lozanohemmer
member


Reged: 09/27/12

Re: Open Air art project in Philadelphia new [Re: MawkHawk]
      #5447631 - 09/29/12 10:23 PM

Thanks Geoff and MawkHawk for your comments. I am delighted to have this exchange.

Geoff, you write: "But what essential public or private need does Open Air satisfy that rules out an enclosed space?" Allow me to attempt an answer: the Parkway in Philly was designed specifically to be a public promenade. As you may know this is hardly the case, -it is now a 12 lane avenue with almost no pedestrian traffic at night. Surrounded by some of the most important museums in America, it is a pity that this area does not offer an opportunity for a vibrant community takeover with entitlement over their city. Open Air humbly attempts to reactivate that area for undertakings other than shopping. It brings people into the parkway to celebrate two popular festivals, to get people walking and looking at the sky, and to allow their voices to be "heard". With more than 30,000 participants so far I am delighted to report that this is happening. The free speech queue now has everything from marriage proposals, to poetry, song, manifestos, rants, and thousands of voice clips submitted during this first week. As someone who comes from Mexico City, one of the biggest and most troubled cities in the world, I know that big cities like Philly have their share of social, economic, racial and political issues that often alienate and defeat our citizens. While of course I don't think Open Air will solve any of these issues I am encouraged to see that in fact the project is already being taken over by an incredibly diverse demographic, many of whom often are not "visible". I am referring to the homeless night we are organizing for the 3rd of October, tonight's hispanic heritage night, the storytelling seniors, the Bicycle coalition of Greater Philadelphia, the women empowerment and advocacy night, and a long etcetera. Through Open Air I am hoping that the great american tradition of free speech can be visualized and can be amplified to an urban scale.

I do not think I am exempt from criticism for my light pollution. I have accepted this and I think criticism is very welcome precisely in the spirit of free speech that I want to elicit in the project. I am aware that I pollute, for example when I take an airplane somewhere, but it does not stop me from buying carbon offsets to at least be consistent with my beliefs. All of our activities are somehow polluting: you and I having this discussion right now, --on a server backbone likely powered by burning coal--, is polluting. In the end there are always choices made with pros and cons and I understand fully well that for few in this forum the choice of staging this project is worth it. I respect that. What surprises me is the degree of dramatization and name-calling that has surrounded this disagreement... particularly as time and time again I have offered that I may indeed be detrimental to the cause but perhaps not the most useful, or important target. As I look at the enormous lit advertising in PECO tower, the wasteful facade lighting of Cira center, the absurd and unnecessary spillage coming from parking lots and hundreds of other examples of "inadvertent pollution" I do wonder why my project is the one that receives this degree of animosity. And you are right, it is likely because of art's "symbolic power": at least with this project we all get to have these discussions and make them public. It is in this way that I think Dr Pitts sees Open Air "not as an opportunity to fight, but an opportunity to teach". I am happy that Open Air may "air" these discussions and make them public, because I do think we need to take Dark Skies into the mainstream. Pros and cons: we are about to stage one of the largest free astronomy events in history, with a speaker that will captivate the general public with the majesty of a starry night and explain to them the importance of Dark Skies...is that worth it? Personally I think so.

On the subject of wildlife. I am sorry but contrary to what many postings in this thread suggest, the project is not producing a massacre of migrating birds. I have been working very closely with ornithologists and Audubon Pennsylvania to ensure that not a single bird "dies of exhaustion as they are trapped in the lights". We have a large number of plans in place to prevent this from happening and I would be happy to detail them for the forum if you all have the patience to go through that material (or I can send it privately, if you wish). Sorry MawkHawk, I don't pretend to be "pro-wildlife" but at the same time I cannot tolerate that a single animal is hurt by my project.

Hope these notes help explain my position. Thanks for your attention.

All the best,
Rafael


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MawkHawk
sage
*****

Reged: 08/23/09

Loc: SE Michigan, USA
Re: Open Air art project in Philadelphia new [Re: lozanohemmer]
      #5448171 - 09/30/12 10:20 AM

Excuse me, but is the following not a pro-wildlife statement? "The project is being considered by scientists as a testbed to record hard data on the effect of this kind of lighting on the birds. In particular a doppler radar is being negotiated to see flock patterns and different colour filters will be applied to observe any changes in flight behaviour."
So you are attempting, in part, to justify the risk to wildlife by claiming that it is part of a study? This is like driving 50 mph thru a residential neighborhood to study the effects of high speed residential driving on children playing in the area. When you could easily avoid adding to the danger by driving the speed limit. You want to be part of the problem and justify it by claiming that you're part of the solution.


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lozanohemmer
member


Reged: 09/27/12

Re: Open Air art project in Philadelphia new [Re: MawkHawk]
      #5448271 - 09/30/12 11:24 AM

MawkHawk: Sorry for the confusion, you are right. When I say the project is a testbed for scientific study I did not mean whether we have an impact or not. I will change the text on the web. Meanwhile, here is a breakdown for you:

1. What I am doing has risks, but I don't want to kill a single bird (does that make me pro-wildlife?).
2. With professional help, studies and investment we have taken every effort to mitigate the effects of my project on migrating birds.
3. We have a full-time monitoring plan in place, a mixture of personnel (ornithologists, technicians, volunteers) and technology (doppler radar, binoculars, sound recorders).
4. Now, In addition to the above, Dr. J. Alan Clark, professor at the Dept of Biological Sciences of Fordham University, has conducted an actual scientific study SEPARATE from Open Air but using the project's lights. We have tested the effect of different light color filters on the migratory pattern of birds. His results should be published when he analyses all the data collected.

Best,
Rafael


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csrlice12
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 05/22/12

Loc: Denver, CO
Re: Open Air art project in Philadelphia new [Re: lozanohemmer]
      #5448414 - 09/30/12 12:53 PM

I'm still for someone in Philly to test their basement built EMP Pulse gun on those spotlights...Sorry Loranzo, still ain't buying your BS. AND that's what it is, BS....Just my opinion of your "art"...and that doesn't make it a wrong opinion just because I disagree with you....

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TOM O
sage
*****

Reged: 03/30/06

Loc: Joshua Tree CA.
Re: Open Air art project in Philadelphia new [Re: csrlice12]
      #5448464 - 09/30/12 01:31 PM

I wish more CNer,s would join in with this discussion. Since the core of the dialog is so relevant and important.

One thing I know for sure is that Rafael's project has generated a decent amount of output of time spent talking about light pollution. If any positive aspect is true, it is this part of it all.

What would be able to do more than what has come foreward, otherwise?

Like I said before, the headlines must read "LIGHT POLLUTION FOUND GUILTY - MILLIONS DEAD!!"

Then, the world wakes up?


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barasits
sage


Reged: 06/12/11

Loc: Chicago
Re: Open Air art project in Philadelphia new [Re: lozanohemmer]
      #5448485 - 09/30/12 01:40 PM

Rafael, you described the purpose of Open Air as follows:

"Open Air humbly attempts to reactivate [the Parkway] for undertakings other than shopping. It brings people into the parkway to celebrate two popular festivals, to get people walking and looking at the sky, and to allow their voices to be 'heard'."

The purposes you specify, social gathering and free speech, do not require shining 24 searchlights into the night sky for 3 hours per night over 25 days. There are many ways of attracting people to outdoor festivals that do not involve deliberate light pollution. As far as free speech is concerned, the light show is superfluous because the sounds or verbal expressions cannot be deduced by viewing the lights. Attempting to link Open Air to some noble social purpose sounds like a defensive maneuver to define the project as something other than gratuitous entertainment. It doesn't work as I think you know since you admitted that Open Air is not a remedy for social ills. Consequently, Open Air is still stuck in the gratuitous entertainment category however much you try to attach it to lofty goals.

You then return to the argument that other light pollution sources are worse than yours, and you assume that the other polluters are going unchallenged:

"As I look at the enormous lit advertising in PECO tower, the wasteful facade lighting of Cira center, the absurd and unnecessary spillage coming from parking lots and hundreds of other examples of "inadvertent pollution" I do wonder why my project is the one that receives this degree of animosity."

I believe the negative reactions to your project are a consequence of the fact that it is a deliberate act of light pollution with no other purpose than entertainment, runs for an extensive period of time, and violates the rights of those who wish to see the sky sans searchlights. It would probably be possible to predict the reaction of light pollution opponents by ranking polluters in terms of intention, purpose, and scale. High intention, low purpose, medium scale projects like Open Air can expect strong opposition. Low intention, high purpose, high scale installations such as streetlights will certainly elicit opposition, but the low intention and high purpose (public safety) would tend to mute emotional reaction.

Regarding wildlife, MawkHawk's analogy of speeding in a residential neighborhood is superb--checkmate!

Best regards,

Geoff


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lozanohemmer
member


Reged: 09/27/12

Re: Open Air art project in Philadelphia new [Re: csrlice12]
      #5448524 - 09/30/12 01:55 PM

Csrlice12, your opinion that my art is BS is fine. What worries me is that your call for "pulse guns" is right in line with so many previous instances of slander, defaming, calls for "showdowns", personal insults and other unfortunate reactions to the project.

What has been published on the web is nothing compared to the vitriol that has been sent to people over email. Reactions like yours make people believe that the cause for Dark Skies must be radical, irrational and belligerent. I have met enough Dark Skies activists to know this is NOT the case, --but these reasonable people, are mostly quiet.

Being reasonable, engaging in dialog, collaborating, sharing thoughts, making priorities, inspiring people, educating them, distributing information: this is the way into the mainstream of decision making. Name calling, slander, defaming, calling for showdowns and fights: this is one way to ensure the issue stays at the margins.


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barasits
sage


Reged: 06/12/11

Loc: Chicago
Re: Open Air art project in Philadelphia new [Re: lozanohemmer]
      #5448627 - 09/30/12 02:42 PM

Rafael, being new to CN you lack context for interpreting csrlice's comment. If you had read enough of Randy's posts, you would know that the EM pulse gun remark was intended as humor. Most of the CN forums are given to lighthearted banter even when the thread is serious.

I have no way of knowing what kind of messages Open Air supporters have received, but opponents have been on the receiving end of venom as well. Of the sample of blog comments I've read, opponents of Open Air have, for the most part, been passionate but remarkably civil.

Geoff


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Kfrank
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 12/20/08

Loc: Northern Colorado
Re: Open Air art project in Philadelphia new [Re: csrlice12]
      #5448632 - 09/30/12 02:45 PM

Quote:

I'm still for someone in Philly to test their basement built EMP Pulse gun on those spotlights...Sorry Loranzo, still ain't buying your BS. AND that's what it is, BS....Just my opinion of your "art"...and that doesn't make it a wrong opinion just because I disagree with you....




No, and it doesn't make his opinion wrong either - just because you disagree with it!

Do a bit of exploring with regard to the definitions of "art" and you'll find that the only real definition of art is that which is created when the creator intends to create art. Sounds esoteric, I know. And, the average person to whom art is a "sofa size painting" or a piece of easily recognizeable sculpture has a good deal of trouble with this concept of art.

Art is about exploring the bounds of human creativity and imagination. It is NOT defined by the observer as is the commonly (and erroneous ) accepted definition, but rather by its creator.

One does not have to agree with a particular art form or type of expression, but it should not be denigrated as "BS" simpy because you don't like or understand it. Just as an excercise (if you are really interested in expanding your knowledge and horizons) do a bit of digging into the philosophical aspects of art, its creation and appreciation. If you can put your prejudices aside, you might be surprised.

Please don't launch into a tirade about how I am condoning light pollution - I am not! Nor am I necessarily condoning this particular medium of expression. I'm just trying to inject a bit of perspective where it is clearly lacking and might be beneficial.


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csa/montana
Den Mama
*****

Reged: 05/14/05

Loc: montana
Re: Open Air art project in Philadelphia new [Re: csrlice12]
      #5448639 - 09/30/12 02:49 PM

A reminder to keep this thread respectful of all members; whether you agree or disagree, do it in a civil respectful manner please.

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lozanohemmer
member


Reged: 09/27/12

Re: Open Air art project in Philadelphia new [Re: csa/montana]
      #5448697 - 09/30/12 03:38 PM

Dear Geoff, some notes to your notes:

""The purposes you specify, social gathering and free speech, do not require shining 24 searchlights into the night sky for 3 hours per night over 25 days. There are many ways of attracting people to outdoor festivals that do not involve deliberate light pollution.""

--Without a doubt! I am not presenting this as the only way about it.

""As far as free speech is concerned, the light show is superfluous because the sounds or verbal expressions cannot be deduced by viewing the lights.""

--That is incorrect Geoff. The verbal expressions can be heard in perfect sync with the lights through speakers set-up at Eakins Oval and Logan Square, through the free Open Air Philly phone app, and through the web in the "listen" section. So far our archive has been listened to by over 30,000 independent IP addresses and counting. I am quite satisfied with the degree of listenership so far.

""Attempting to link Open Air to some noble social purpose sounds like a defensive maneuver to define the project as something other than gratuitous entertainment. It doesn't work as I think you know since you admitted that Open Air is not a remedy for social ills. Consequently, Open Air is still stuck in the gratuitous entertainment category however much you try to attach it to lofty goals.""

--We started with the lofty goals and built a project around them, so I don't see how interest in social purpose could be a defensive maneuver! Anyhow, of course Open Air is not a remedy to these ills, but it is encouraging to see the different communities participate on a daily basis and feel empowered. I wish you were in Philly and could come down to Eakins Oval to see it for yourself.

""I believe the negative reactions to your project are a consequence of the fact that it is a deliberate act of light pollution with no other purpose than entertainment, runs for an extensive period of time, and violates the rights of those who wish to see the sky sans searchlights.""

--Well as I argue above, participation is not just entertainment but that's just my opinion. What is problematic is your claim that I am violating the rights of those who wish to see the sky sans searchlights. Have you ever been to Philly? The sodium lighting in the Parkway makes it completely impossible to see anything in the sky! Geoff, we are turning those lights off and as a result we are seeing people looking at the sky again.

""I have no way of knowing what kind of messages Open Air supporters have received, but opponents have been on the receiving end of venom as well. Of the sample of blog comments I've read, opponents of Open Air have, for the most part, been passionate but remarkably civil.""

--I would be surprised if you can show me a single posting or letter that is disparaging to dark sky activists. I am certainly trying to be civil and open to discuss the issues. On the other hand, if you have the stomach for it (or the time!), I can collect the material we have received for you to see it in all its detail: often it is funny stuff like Randy's hilarious calls for Pulse Guns to end my BS art, but sometimes it goes into pretty detailed threats, name-calling and personal attacks. Not so funny!

Thanks Geoff for your civil exchange. Like I said before, I've met enough dark sky activists to know that the ones that insult and threaten are in the minority.

All the best,
Rafael


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barasits
sage


Reged: 06/12/11

Loc: Chicago
Re: Open Air art project in Philadelphia new [Re: lozanohemmer]
      #5448730 - 09/30/12 04:07 PM

Rafael, I think dark sky activists may be the least of your problems:

'Open Air' spotlights boring banality

Best regards,

Geoff


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lozanohemmer
member


Reged: 09/27/12

Re: Open Air art project in Philadelphia new [Re: barasits]
      #5448769 - 09/30/12 04:32 PM

That is not a problem at all Geoff (nor are Dark Sky activists for that matter). Sozanski's opinions are very respectable even if I don't agree with them. The list of art he has not liked in the past is quite formidable and am at peace with being in the company of artists he has dismissed.

PS I do appreciate the irony of him not liking my lights for not being powerful enough: "The beams aren't sufficiently powerful (I suppose given the location they couldn't be), and they're attenuated by the ambient light from nearby Center City high-rises and even from the "light box" atop the adjacent Barnes Foundation."

Best,
Rafael


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