Color and Light

We rarely take notice of the street lamps that light our way as we traverse the vast networks of streets, highways and freeways that make up Los Angeles and at the moment this staple of modern infrastructure is undergoing a drastic transition. The city is shifting from the warm glow of sodium-vapor lights to the stark white LED. On face value the change is innocuous, the city stands to save money both on energy and cost of maintenance.

The change to LED has implications that reach beyond the domain of public infrastructure. One such implication is the new lighting's impact on film. LA is arguably one of the most filmed cities in the world, this transition will stand as a marker in time in film and television. The feel of "night in the city" will never be the same.

Using this as our starting point, we set out to document a space entirely through the color temperature of light. While at the same time to understand some of the implications that the color of light can have on infrastructure, public space and film.

The image below is a powerful illustration of stories light can tell about a city.

Photo of east and west Berlin at night - 4/6/2013
Image Science & Analysis Laboratory, NASA Johnson Space Center

To the right is one of our final data collections at Miracle Mile, it is a combination of two visits one conducted on foot and the other by car. Geospatially mapping the data was an important step because it gave told us whether the data was accurate or even compelling. What we learned was the data at our site was not visually interesting (without considerable manipulation) but when reading the data it became more evident. On close inspection the difference in tone of light is apparent but almost imperceptible at our site. One exception is the north west corner of the map where there is a segment of street that used sodium-vapor lamps instead of fluorescent lamps, in this area the change was more evident.
Color and Light: More maps

To further illustrate our idea we tried to combine our data with a stop motion film of Wilshire, however this mode of exploration proved to have limited impact on the project. Altering the exposure on a camera turned out to be a convincing way to visualize street light without any of the surrounding infrastructure. The resulting video didn't meet our expectations and proved difficult to map data to (we ultimately decided to drop the idea altogether).
Color and Light: Drive Documentation

While the data driven investigation was in progress Elaine started an investigation into the color of films in Los Angeles, below is a matrix of films organized by the hue and brightness. And underneath that is films recut and re-arranged by the hue of the frame.Color and LIght: Film and Hue