Language of Light: Using Visuals to Communicate Culture
In modern worship, we can use visual language that draws upon 2,000 years of church history, and generations of culture.
Credit: Tom Neforas for Crossroads Community Church
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Lighting Design NewsFor Lighting Design, What Software Is The Right Match For Your Needs? (Part 3) Lighting Design Software Guide: Deep Dive Into Two Options (Part 2) Lighting Design Software Guide: Making It Easier With What Works (Part 1) Language of Light: Using Visuals to Communicate Culture
Lighting Design ResourceFor Lighting Design, What Software Is The Right Match For Your Needs? (Part 3)
Dig into this final part of a three-part series that looks into choices for lighting design software, including Vectorworks and LightConverse, and how each can best serve the needs of your church.
When you are driving at night, and suddenly see blue lights moving in your rearview mirror, do you stare and wonder what this means, or do you just pull over?
We start learning a wide vocabulary of visual language at an early age. Light alone can tell us how to behave, act, and feel.
Those flashing blue lights makes one recall a scenario that you’ve studied in school, seen on TV, and associated with feelings for years. You’ll run through a mental checklist of what you will say when the police officer comes to your window. And you may feel relief when they pass you on the way to some other driver down the road.
By using lighting language, lighting designers can speak to their audience with a vocabulary as powerful as a speaker. We respond to lighting all the time, at both conscious and subconscious levels. So what is your design saying?
What should we say? In modern worship, we can use visual language that draws upon 2,000 years of church history, generations of culture, or Lady Gaga’s 2017 Super Bowl halftime performance (It was memorable. Those drones, right?). While using pop culture is maybe the best way to ride the zeitgeist, think about what parts of the artist you are emulating that support your mission and vision as a church body.
Whether choosing something deeply spiritual or something you saw on TV, the choices you make tell your audience who you are.
By looking at the lights during a service, you can learn many things about the church, such as how the leaders relate to the congregation, what the church believes about order and direction, and whether it is driven by evangelism, Biblical separation, liturgy, or relational openness to the unchurched.
As we discuss a few examples, please know I’m not making a positive or negative judgement about these theological concepts.
We are many parts of one body.
Let’s look at some scenarios and what they might communicate to your guests.
Where Our Design Choices Began
I’m the media director of a Pentecostal church that uses big modern worship, but I grew up in liturgical traditions. Even those supposedly traditional spaces have a common language of light with origins and symbolism from before there was even electricity.
When I was a boy growing up at St. Cecelia’s parish in Leominster, Massachusetts, the sheer presence of the church was always stunning. The architecture, artwork, and light worked tightly together, all aspects of visual design converging to express the values of the church.
Latest ResourceWorship Facilities Magazine, March-April 2018
The March-April 2018 issue of Worship Facilities Magazine offers articles about how to prepare, prevent and respond to church violence, a look into what church management software can do for your church community, and a piece on how a once popular nightclub venue was transitioned to become Shoreline Church's new home.