Paths to Realization of an Art Object

Doing artwork for a living does not require you be crazy to begin with, but it will certainly get you there. Whether it’s illustration work, photography, painting, or making lighted objects, every work has a piece of the author baked into it. That’s what separates art from product design or graphics. So what happens with the resulting product is equally personal.

As a lighting designer, I felt a personal connection with my work, but the intimacy was diluted by the number of people between the creative vision and the end product. The finished design and process was a team-involved collective effort. The myopia and hyper vigilance over details invisible to others softened the self criticism. Few can visualize light in space during the design process – that’s what makes lighting design a true professional art (sorry lighting science nerds, it is not about formulas and compliance, it is art, even when it isn’t.) That means that even when the end product was less than artistically perfect, you still create magic.

The same cannot be said of works created with your own hands, where you own the entire process from inspiration to finished object in hand. Every detail, surface, finish, mistake and success, are 100% on the creator. Imperfect is failure; Just send it to the landfill – I’m going to work at the Home Depot stocking shelves, I suck!

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3D Print 2010 vs. 2021 and Unicycle 2

Unicycle Two was inspired by the first 3D print object I ever made in 2010 – Unicycle One, which was part of the 52 in 52 project. This first full object project and over 1000 subsequent projects since has been a massive learning experience. The following summarizes the progression that has taken place over these 11 years.

Unicycle Two (2021, foreground) vs. Unicycle One (2010, background) reflects the evolution of progress in creating finished art using 3D print technology. This includes surface finishing as well as approach to body fill and construction.

Not knowing the characteristics of the ABS plastic in 2010, I printed the first fixture solid, which consumed 115 cubic inches of material, at a cost of over $600. Ouch! Over the last 11 years, I have learned a lot about how to create objects with 3D printers, which is reflected in the latest iteration of the Unicycle design.

2010: The first 3D print object, using a Stratasys Dimension bst1200es, was printed solid and is unfinished. The design was done in Rhino CAD, and the separation of colors reflected the numerous sections required to build the fixture up. The driver and electronics are in the base. The arm and head were made from machined copper.
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Integrated 3D Printed Handheld Task Light

3D printing can be accomplished using single or multiple materials. The future of the process includes printing integrated circuits, optics, circuit pathways, heat sinks, fixture bodies and enclosures. Robotics, combined with 3D printing stations, can assemble entire products with no fasteners, no seams, and no human interaction, from a bin of raw materials.

The process involves setting up a series of 3D printers that feed into a main printer that is printing a body. At various stages, the printer is paused, and components are installed into cavities, before the printer continues. This can also include potting of cavities, as well as creating wiring vias and paths for conventional wires to pass through. The finished product would have no seams to leak, no intermediate gasketing to fail. It is an integrated assembly that used no glue or seaming of any type, making the final product durable.

This process can be repeated 24/7, with no staff present, other than to keep the material supplies loaded (also done with automation in the local area of the machine.) Customer orders can then move directly from order entry into the production que, with all available selectable options of color, optic, LED power level, CCT, control interface, etc… since the entire fixture is created from software to real world, with none of the conventional inventory of parts, components, etc… through to assembly operations.

A Simple Example to Illustrate the Process

The following is a design and process I created from raw fixture design to printed, in less than 24 hours.

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Dear Fellow Creatives

Allow me to introduce myself in a way that a resume and LinkedIn profile is unable to. I offer the following brief illustrated run down of my career in 10 Acts. Sort of a Play of evolving interests that leads me to offering you a new resource. I hope you have a moment to enjoy this adventure as much as I have. Who knows, perhaps we might one day find ourselves on a shared path.

To start, I am an artist at heart, and have been for a very long time. My first punishment in grammar school was for using my imagination to color a birds in a manner the nuns did not appreciate. This, combined with other similar incidents of expressed independence, led to my being removed from Catholic school to be placed in a conventional grammar school where my “unique” approach would not present disrupt the order of the Rigid Penguin Queens.

I come from a background of a mother who was exceptionally talented in art, and a father who was an engineer and math professor, and a multi-generational family of entrepreneurs. My father showed me the way of being a professional adult, my mother the path to artistic expression. While this duality has afforded me insight into two worlds that rarely share the same space, it has suited me particularly well in lighting – which is why I spent so many years in the industry.

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What I Can Do for You at Lumenique

Every designer has instances where they want to see a special idea or concept realized to fill a small, but essential need or want, but cannot find a path to see it realized. I know this, as I was a designer that started making things for my own projects to fill this need – which led to the formation of Lumenique.

Custom Frame Mount LED Picture Light

The need for something special may be as simple as a small iconic accent applied to a wall or door, a corporate image piece, a center piece at a corporate entry desk or conference table, a side table or dining table light that functions as accent source of illumination while making an artistic design statement. These are the inspired details that add nuance and depth, that makes a design pop – but are too frequently set aside for want of a source to make them real.

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Why Would an Artist Choose OLED?

Art is about combining materials and technology in a way that creates objects that reflect a vision or an idea. In some instances, artists find it necessary to innovate their own technology, or to apply one in a way unintended by the originator in order to achieve the end result they desire. Art is about experimentation and tinkering.

In my previous lives, I have done this many times – from using lithography films loaded into a 35mm camera for extremely long exposures for motion capture, to soldering house wiring together with a motorcycle fog lamp to make a sculpture.

This image (1978) was taken using 25ASA high contrast lithograph film cut and modified to work in a 35mm camera to facilitate extreme exposure times in full sunlight conditions.
This small light (1987) was made from copper house wire, plumbing solder, and a PAR36 motorcycle fog lamp.

Artistic inspiration is generally not bound by the physical reality it springs from. In many cases, it is impossible to create what the imagination or an idea brings forth. Yet, an artist that has become too involved in the workings and machinations of creation, often find themselves lost and frustrated. For these reasons, there is always a level of compromise. Available resources, time, and skill set combine to shape the universe within which an artist creates. Some of these limitations are by choice – as is the case for those who choose only to paint, or sculpt in clay – others are just the limitations of the real world.

Light Source Selection

I have been in lighting for 40 years, from virtually every angle – including design of lighting in spaces, design of products for manufacture, use of light to cure resins or disinfect water, and in artwork. I see light in things, in spaces, and in the world – it’s now just a part of what I see.

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Art and Design Creation Enabled by Technology

Art vs. Design

Art is not media bound. It matters not whether a creation comes from spray cans, found objects, sculpted from clay, chipped out of marble, or painted with secret formula pigments. Art is the transformation of a thought or individual vision, expressed in forms to be experienced by others. Some art is intentionally fleeting, to be experienced in the moment that is lost to time. Other forms are permanent, to transcend the ages. Some art is heavily contextual, some dated, and some transcendent, changing in meaning and perceived value over time. It is all art. It is all creative expression.

Every stage of human artistic development has been boosted by the simultaneous development of enabling technology. In some cases, the artist themselves were the innovators, in others, artists are the benefactors of technology that emerged for other purposes. Early painters utilized paints of their own creation, where modern artists utilize a plethora of manufactured medium with which to express themselves. The art is not diminished, and the ability to create is enhanced by this transformation. Early sculptors chipped away at marble they sourced from quarries engaged in building architecture, or shaped clay taken from river beds or headed to brick factories, or cast bronze from the same processes and materials used for architectural metalwork. Today, sculpting comes in every imaginable form, using materials and technologies from the past, the present, and in the case of some, the near future. The introduction of the computer has opened doors into new realm of art – including digital works that exist only as data and projected pixels, art headed to any number of printing processes, and now three dimensional art directly from data using 3D printers.

There is differentiation between art and design. Design – whether it be Graphic or Industrial – is creative and artistic, but has a purpose, a determined value to be delivered. In this, Design seeks to first identify the need of the viewer (read “customer”) community, then deploy an end product to satisfy the intended number of viewers in a way that produces a commercial sales result. In this, the Viewer is the priority in which the Designer intends to serve. The Designer focuses every effort on the attempt to produce a clear understanding of the product created, in order to produce the most universal acceptance by the target audience (read “Customer”.)

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Return to Passion

Lumenique was created in 1986 as part of my Lighting Design Consulting practice in Las Vegas. Originally, it was intended to be a design studio, where I could create unique items for customers, including art galleries. I even had dreams of it being a showroom of custom lighting creations. The name itself was a creation of mine, and reflects the intent fully:

Lumen (Light) + Unique (of special character) = Lumenique

Over the years, as I got busy with life, and from a lack of focus (and abundance of youth), I let this evolve into a wide range of activities and offerings, including artwork, performance components for BMWs, and consulting services from product development to UV curing. Lumenique was first put on the internet with a rudimentary web site in 1995, primarily for sharing information, and at times collected dust as I focused elsewhere. Over the 35 year journey, the origins of Lumenique were muddied by active career life that distracted me from where I intended it to go.

That ends now.

New Focus

On November 1, 2020, Lumenique has returned to its origins, and my sole focus going forward. I will be creating and offering artistic portable lighting products of unique artistic quality, inspired by architecture and machines.

New Web Site

The Lumenique web site has already been rebuilt to reflect this new direction.

Link to the New Web Site as of November 6

The new site will evolve as products are added, and we finish the storefront components. In the meantime, I have created an archive gallery with historic designs, and a ready reference guide to the 52 in 52 project, so a visit now will provide an insight into where I started.

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The String of Light

The lighting industry is a faceted and muti-layered universe. However, the bond that holds it all together is that lighting exists only to serve human kind. To the consternation of technologists and engineers behind the SSL revolution, humans (other than those in the are in the business of engineering and technology) are not particularly concerned with metrics, formulas, or objective measurement. Humans are emotional animals, that respond to light and shadow, who feel before they see, and absorb what they see as real, even when it isn’t. To this end, artistry in light remains a strong factor in the human condition, even when those experiencing it are unable to express its influence, or even acknowledge its impact. This underlying reality is what causes so many metrics addicts to go mad, as they attempt to quantify and control a market that is in fact, uncontrollable. The illusion of control is the fallacious reality we live in as humans. We cannot express our needs for an emotionally, soul energizing, comfortable or pleasing existence in metric terms. Continue reading “The String of Light”