Light Science Talks

Light Science TalksThe 2017 Portland Winter Light Festival welcomes speakers, thought leaders, and innovators to take part in our Light/Science Talks during the Festival.


Light/Science Talks Schedule


WEDNESDAY February 1st inside OMSI Theory Restaurant

6:15pm – 6:50pm

Speaker: Robert (Rob) Brown

Title: How to make a Hologram

Description:  A discussion and demonstration of the applications of holography and of lasers. A real hologram will be made, live and in person for all to see, without relying on movie special effects. This talk is geared toward people with a science interest and does not require formal science education. Fear No Physics!

Bio:  Rob Brown has been a professional optical engineer since 1988, working in holography, lens design, aviation head-up displays, and more. He has been with Rockwell Collins Head-Up Guidance Systems in Wilsonville since 1991. His degree is a Bachelor of Science in Physics with an emphasis in Modern Optics and Lasers.


7:15pm – 7:50PM

Speaker: Dave Colangelo
Title: Conversations with Buildings: Animated Infrastructure in the “Smart” City

Description:  The illuminated infrastructure of massive media – large scale urban screens, public projections, and media architecture – provide a means by which we can collectively sense our changing attitudes and beliefs about public space, the urban environment, and our own bodies. That said, these structures are also bound up in smart city and placemaking initiatives that are quite often exclusionary and serve capitalist interests ahead of empowering citizens. In my talk, I argue that we should expect the communicative, animated infrastructure of massive media to develop perceptual acuity and collective and individual intelligence, not just increase efficiency and accelerate corporate surveillance and control, or amount to little more than civic and corporate advertising and branding. In this way, massive media should be seen as an emergent and important infrastructural category alongside sanitary, electrical, and sewage systems. Illuminated infrastructures are symbolic and increasingly functional expressions of our communicative systems, and key structures for the dialectic development of the social whole.

Bio:  Dave Colangelo is Assistant Professor of Digital Culture in the School of Theatre + Film at Portland State University, Director of the Media Architecture Institute (North America), and a Founding Member of Public Visualization Studio.


THURSDAY February 2nd inside OMSI Theory Restaurant

6:15pm – 6:50pm

Speaker: Daniel Beacham

Title: Leveraging Light to Explore Inner Space at the Cellular Level

Description:  The complexity of organisms is vast, evident in observations of everyday life and in estimates of 8-10 million different species that we know about on Earth. Now consider the “inner space” of life, the microscopic world within us that consists of many trillions of cells (including microbes!) of approximately 200 different types. While the traditional light microscope has enabled the visualization of some intracellular detail, this approach is limited by the lack of contrast and relatively few details that may be seen at the same time. The more recent combination of light microscopy with fluorescent probes offers an unparalleled and informative view into the structure and function of cells and this otherwise hidden realm of biology. In this talk, I’ll share examples of the incredible complexity and beauty that can be seen at the cellular and sub-cellular levels when we leverage light and fluorescence to explore inner space.

Bio: Dan is a Senior Staff Scientist at the Molecular Probes campus of Thermo Fisher Scientific in Eugene, Oregon. His 25 year career in science began with a PhD in neuroscience from the Oregon Health and Sciences University, followed by postdoctorate work at University College London and the University of Washington in Seattle. For the last ten years at Molecular probes, Dan has worked to invent and develop cell based assays and tests for basic sciences research and drug discovery.


7:15pm – 7:50pm

Speaker: Lilli Szafranski

Title: The Software Behind Stoicheia – How Software Makes Art

Description: Join Lilli as she describes her process making art, specifically on the tech side. From learning CAD software to writing the code that drives the 2,200 LEDs, hear how she went from an idea to the big glowing digital stained-glass dodecahedron displayed outside at the Portland Winter Lights Festival. She will take you on her journey from inception to completion, filling you in on all that techy-geeky stuff related to making art. What are the algorithms that make all those pretty colors? This is your chance to find out!

Bio: Lilli is a maker, LED artist, and a software architect. When she isn’t playing with lights, she’s doing something with her mobile phone: playing games, surfing Reddit, or writing some kind of mobile app or SDK. She has a Bachelor’s of Science in Computer Science from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. She is passionate about LED art, mobile development, embedded development, Internet-of-Things, and security/encryption.


8:15 – 8:50pm

Speaker: Craig Winslow
Title: Reanimating Ghost Signage with Projection Mapping

Description: Hidden all around us are visual hints of times gone by, former businesses, and earlier design styles. These “ghost signs” go largely unnoticed but using projection mapping, Light Capsules brings them back to life to reveal what they used to look like, and tell interesting layers behind their local history. In this talk, Craig will share his design process for researching, recreating, and reviving these signs, and what he sees as a future for these fleeting relics.

Bio: Craig Winslow is an experiential designer and one of this year’s Adobe Creative Residents. His latest project Light Capsules brings layers of history to life through projection mapping, on a series of ghost signs around the world. He’s been featured on The Great Discontent, FastCo Design, and The Creators Project.


FRIDAY February 3rd inside OMSI Theory Restaurant

6:15pm – 6:50pm

Speaker:   Mark Allyn

Title: Using Light As Part Of Art

Description:  Demonstration on what can be done with light on different media. Art can be created such that it is dynamic depending upon which angle you look at it. Speaker will be showcasing examples of unique patterns created on steel by creative grinding and cutting to reflect light in different patterns that change based on the angle the viewer is looking at the art work from. Speaker will bring samples of metal and glass, along with different colored LEDs for audience hands on activity.

Bio:  Mark is a retired Intel engineer living in Bellingham, Washington who has self taught himself in working with glass, metal, plastics, and fabrics, along with light to create his own art. A sample of Mark’s art work can be seen on his art journal at


8:00pm – 8:35pm

Speaker: Josh Kottler –  Pxl Matrix – How to Control LEDs using Open Source Software

Josh Kotter is the founder of Pxl Matrix where we makes LED curtains and does custom installation, consulting, design, sale and rentals of LED light effects.


Saturday February 4th at the Heritage Rail Center

8:15pm – 8:50pm

Speaker: Rich Burton (aka HooperFly)
Title: Flying Robots + Light Buckets = Open-Source Platforms for Creativity and Adventure

Description:  An overview/demonstration of flying robots, light buckets and their related open-source projects. If you’re interested in building flying robots, light buckets or are just curious, come join us for a bit of DIY/open-source camaraderie.

Related Links: PaparazziUAV, Flying Robot Commander, Light Bucket Commander