Thinking about light and place, especially the sun, brings about many memories of growing up in the south. Long summer days in North Carolina are characterized by hazy sunlight reflecting off of car roofs and swimming pools. The light quality in the summer is almost blindingly bright and is associated with scorching hot days. Winters however have much more subdued natural light with grayer skies. This is contrasted with the occasional snowfall when the sun reflects off of the snow and ice. This makes the outdoors seem even brighter and whiter. When I think of my personal relationship with light and place in my childhood home, I think of my large east-facing bedroom windows and the natural light that flooded my room during the day. Plantation shutters made patterns on my floor that shifted and grew narrower as the day progressed. This made my room feel a lot roomier and cheerful, and improved my mood on sunny days.
When thinking about my experiences in nature, light plays a major role. Walking along the Eno River in my hometown of Durham, NC, light filtering through the leaves and reflecting off of the water makes the experience more enjoyable and intriguing. While walking along the trails, the lighting transforms from being very shaded to intensely bright within a matter of steps. The varying light transitioning with the trail makes the outing seem more like an adventure. Another favorite nature spot of mine is Sunset Beach in North Carolina, where light dazzles the horizon of the ocean in the morning and blankets the glistening sand, making the beach seem very peaceful and bright. You could say that the sun hitting the water’s edge is a “play of brilliants” as described in the reading, a light feature in and of itself.
Since I am naturally cold most of the time, I welcome the heat aspects of light in the climate of my environment most of the year. Much like my cat, I enjoy sitting by my windows when warm sunlight is pouring through them. However for a short time during the summer, I appreciate window shading to keep heat out on very hot summer days, when sunlight can cause a greenhouse effect in rooms that have windows on two or more walls (especially when one of the walls is south-facing). My love of heat usually trumps the desire to be cool, so I enjoy basking in sunrooms surrounded by windows and natural light. Not only is there an actual heat factor associated with being surrounded by windows letting in natural light, but there is a perceived warmth coming from viewing sunlight as well.
Light and task is very important, since almost all people spend most of the day doing various tasks. Lighting in the studio and my apartment are both very important to me, since that is where I do most of my work. Large windows in the studio help with bringing in natural light from which to work, but can problematic when focusing on specific tasks later in the day. I have brought in separate task lighting into the studio as well as my apartment in order to have more efficient lighting to complete homework and studio projects. This helps to reduce eye strain and provide a more pleasant work environment. Task lighting in the bathroom and the kitchen are other areas where task lighting is key to me, in order to illuminate surfaces while cooking and getting ready for class. Since lighting is such a key factor in daily experiences, it is crucial to have quality light to fit our needs.