Language of a City

The larger the city the more businesses it has, and the more businesses it has the more outdoor signs get put up, which in turn become part of the landscape. Due to this logic it could be said that Houston is a whole different city at night. It’s many outdoor light boxes illuminate the streets and steal our eyes’ gaze from the surrounding skyscrapers. So what better way to talk about “nighttime” Houston than creating patterns from light.

As night rolled around we gathered our belongings and packed our cameras in the hopes of finding enough stimulating signage.

Here we found a fluorescent light responding to the change in temperature, which happens often here in Houston. According to Wikipedia “the light output and performance of fluorescent lamps is critically affected by the temperature of the bulb wall and its effect on the partial pressure of mercury vapor within the lamp. Each lamp contains a small amount of mercury, which must vaporize to support the lamp current and generate light. At low temperatures the mercury is in the form of dispersed liquid droplets. As the lamp warms, more of the mercury is in vapor form. At higher temperatures, self-absorption in the vapor reduces the yield of UV and visible light. Since mercury condenses at the coolest spot in the lamp, careful design is required to maintain that spot at the optimum temperature, around 40 °C.”

And ta-da! Here are the many patterns created from the photos and video gathered on this long, but fulfilling, expedition. Hope you enjoyed this little experiment, and remember to keep on interacting with your environment because inspiration is much easier to come by if you’re proactive.

By Monica Garcia
Published July 15, 2010
AIGA encourages thoughtful, responsible discourse. Please add comments judiciously, and refrain from maligning any individual, institution or body of work. Read our policy on commenting.