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Thread: Laser Installations

  1. #1
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    Default Laser Installations

    Has anyone seen the work of Matthew Schreiber? Or a recent instillation by Rita McBride? (Attached respectively)
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    I think this work is really interesting and I like to see lasers being used in Gallery spaces, it would be really cool to experience in person!
    But I've read that Schreibers work allows gallery goers to move freely through the rooms, passing through the beams even (as seen in some of the photos). How could this be done safely with static diodes? Possibly very-low powered diodes? Maybe similar optics or limiters like the ones used for crowd scanning?
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails 01_Schreiber_2.jpg  


  2. #2
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    That looks awesome. Simple concept but alignment must take a lot of work.

  3. #3
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    Totally. I was reading an article about the setup process - Each diode is mounted with magnets so the fine tuning is easier to dial in.

    Heres another cool one:
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  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by GustavRhomas View Post
    How could this be done safely with static diodes? Possibly very-low powered diodes? Maybe similar optics or limiters like the ones used for crowd scanning?
    Probably a little of both.

    You'll notice that in most of the pictures you posted there isn't any other ambient light apart from the lasers. This means you can have *very* low power levels and still see the beams, provided you have enough haze or fog present. My guess is that all of his work is displayed indoors, where he can have complete control over all the lighting *and* control the level of fog/haze with great precision. In that case he can likely get by with beams that are much less than 5 mw each.

    The beams in the pictures appear to be fairly small, so I don't think he is using a diverging lens to reduce the irradiance, but if the effect wouldn't be spoiled by using a wider beam, then that's another method to make it eye-safe. Note also that there is at least one display where the audience is blocked from entering the beam area by a barrier. In that case, he could use greater power levels, and indeed the beams do appear much brighter in that shot. (Standard disclaimer about not being able to accurately judge power from a photo still applies.)

    Adam

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    Thanks so much for this reply, Adam! I didn't consider how they could be *very* low powered beams, but of course that makes sense in such a controlled environment.

    What kind of power do you think something like that would be? Would it have to be 1mw or less (Class II) in order to be static and still eye safe? I suppose the wavelength and distance of the source also falls into important consideration.

  6. #6
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    These are fun. Do we know that these installations are in the US? I would assume not and therefore not as limited power-wise as “the laser nanny-state”.

    David
    "Help, help, I'm being repressed!"

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by dkumpula View Post
    Do we know that these installations are in the US?
    Looks like his instillations have shown in the US (Flordia, Texas, New York) and also various countries in Europe. Here's a NewYork Gallery page about one of the exhibitions - http://www.johannesvogt.nyc/matthew-schreiber-sideshow/

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by GustavRhomas View Post
    What kind of power do you think something like that would be? Would it have to be 1mw or less (Class II) in order to be static and still eye safe?
    Depends on the specific language he put in his variance application. (Assuming he's in the US and has a variance of course.) The thing that people forget about when dealing with the CDRH is that you are requesting a *VARIANCE* from the standard, and that opens up lots of possibilities. So as long as you can make a convincing argument as to why your particular use case is safe and should be allowed, you've got a good chance of getting your way. (Within reason, of course, but there are verified accounts of laser projectors installed inside raw pumpkins being approved by the CDRH, for example.)

    So let's think about a few options... If he decided to apply for an audience-scanning variance, then the 2.5 mw per square centimeter irradiance limit for direct eye exposure applies. Since the beams are static, that's pretty much all you can do. (Scanning beams can be hotter due to the short duration exposure, but it only buys you about 4X greater irradiance.)

    However, another option might be to classify the entire display as a single "laser product" which is at or below the Class 3A limit (Max of 4.99 mw per beam - no limits on diameter, distance, or wavelength - so long as it's visible) and is *not* explicitly designed with audience scanning in mind. Then you would need to carefully explain how the product meets the following two criteria: 1) no more than 1 beam could ever enter a human pupil at any given time, and 2) no given beam will ever be more than 4.99 mw.

    More generally, you'd need to explain that this is an artistic installation that is meant to be viewed from a distance, and while people *could* approach the device the natural aversion response to bright light would likely deter people from attempting to stare into one of the beams.

    This second approach follows the reasoning behind a laser pointer. Yes, it's possible to hit someone in the eye with a pointer, but it's not the INTENT of the product, so as long as the beam is less than class 3A you don't need a variance to operate it in public (but you still have to file a product report before you can start selling them to the public). The reason the limit is more strict for an audience scanning projector is because people are *expected* to have eye exposure to an audience-scanning projector. Not so with a pointer. If you can argue that this art installation is not explicitly designed to be viewed from within the beam path(s), then you don't need to consider it an audience-scanning device.

    A third option would be to perform an end-run around the CDRH entirely. This would be tricky, and it's likely that it wouldn't withstand full legal scrutiny, but if the artist can claim that there is no commerce involved, then the CDRH has no jurisdiction. The "no commerce" part is quite difficult though. Basically the artist would have to be doing this for free, and the gallery couldn't be charging admission to see it. (Unlikely, but possible.) Then too, if they sell anything in the gallery (other works of art, souvenirs, maybe even food) they could still be on the hook due to indirect commerce. This is a huge grey area, but I've seen people use this loophole before.

    All that being said, art installations have historically been given quite the pass when it comes to lasers, so it's possible that this traveling display does not have a variance. I've seen displays in museums that would not pass muster if the same thing were in a nightclub, for example. Then again, it could be that the operators in the museum were ignorant of the requirements in the first place. And give how little enforcement we have in the laser industry, it's entirely possible that they could fly under the radar forever. (I'm not condoning that course of action, just stating a fact.)

    I suppose the wavelength and distance of the source also falls into important consideration.
    For the MPE calculation for direct eye exposure, yes. But again, that's only if they decided to go for an audience-scanning variance. Otherwise it would be much easier to just use the Class 3A limit. (No variance needed.)

    Adam

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    Some of those pictures look like they were taken on film, they have that film colour/saturation/grainyness about them that you only get with film. Loving it, film does beam effects a lot of justice. There's something special about analogue photography that digital just doesn't capture.

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