John Bullock Lighting Design
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In Search of Planned Adolescence




Warning! This article is (probably) gender specific – I think I’m only talking about MEN. But if any women readers feel that they want to lay claim to the attitudes described here, feel free..

This stuff about Smart Lighting rumbles on and tediously on, and the more I read about it, the more . . . ‘queasy’ is the most appropriate word for it – I feel about it. Its taken me some time to work out where this gastric unease in coming from, but after hours spent staring out of train windows (poot –poot) I believe I may have it.

Basically, what’s happening is that an image comes into my head whenever someone starts slavering on about how important Smart Lighting is going to be – and it’s the image of a forty-something bloke wearing a baseball cap backwards, with a baggy football shirt and those knee-length baggy trouser things, with trainers and no socks Yes, it’s the adult male of the species living the dream of his youth.

The psychologists have a term for it: puer aeternis – the eternal boy.
Sing after me: “Ferever-r-r-r- Yern-n-n-n-n-n-g-g!” Now you get the picture.

I don’t often quote the Christian Bible but, just this once, Paul wrote to the Corinthians “When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.”
Chance would be a fine thing.

We live in an age where the cars we aspire to are full-scale representations of the super cars of our boyhood; either low-slung sports machines or pumped-up Tonka toys; grown men choose to appear in public wearing their favourite team’s shirt stretched across their ageing gut - like the twelve-year-old that they haven’t been for many a year; supermarkets pander to the dietary demands of someone who will never knowingly eat anything green and everything else has to be drenched in sugar and/or fat.
Ah, yes – I thought as a child!

So when MEN rabbit on about Smart Lighting it takes me back to a time when everything in the future would be magic; nothing would be a stretch or a strain; whatever I wanted would be delivered the instant that I thought of it; everything that went onto Santa’s list would be there for me on Christmas morning and – most of all – everything would be BETTER. Men prefer to live in a fantasy world where dragons are slain and the dashing hero with the six-pack (ladies and gentlemen, I give you . . . myself!) always wins fair damosel (and this might also say something about the reason that apparently adult males prefer to objectify the rest of humankind; you know the ones I mean, those with whom we share the planet)

Smart Lighting is a Panacea – a universal cure-all dreamt up by the Adolescent Adult Male. It is designed into the very concept of the process, because its not about what the electronics can actually achieve, its just a tenuous teenage vision on Stuff Happening. It’s something that will make all the hurt go away. It means that we can stop worrying about stuff like poverty, violence, and RESPONSIBILITY because Science can deal with all of that. We can stay at home in front of our giant TV screens, downing a can of Coke and a giant portion of popcorn. The street lighting will look after us. (and. yes, I do have a penchant for the dystopian visions portrayed in movies like WestWorld – if anyone out there is old enough to remember that)

Adolescence means only having to think about ourselves. Becoming an adult is that moment when you look up from your own navel fluff and see a truly-connected world that can only be helped by your positive engagement. Its not about magical stuff – it’s simply about us becoming the grown-ups we can be and getting down and dirty with the real issues of Life - and, man, they are Many!

Smart Lighting – leave it alone. Grow up and embrace the real hardship of organising a complex society.


To learn more about me and (sort of) justify my standing up and talking about stuff like this, click HERE!

RIBA CPD in 2015

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John Bullock Lighting Design
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