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The Bay Lights
March 5, 2013 11:11 AM   Subscribe

In honor of the San Francisco Bay Bridge's 75th Anniversary, artist Leo Villareal's new work The Bay Lights will be officially lit this evening. It is installed on the West Span and consists of 25,000 custom-mounted LEDs, making it the largest light sculpture in the world.

No word on what effect Villareal's new work will have on SF Bay Area's commute, which has recently been rated worst in the nation.

The Bay Lights was programmed using Particle Universe, and Villareal's previous works include:

A giant glowing Buckyball [2012] - Madison Square Park [video]
Cosmos [2012], an homage to Carl Sagan installed at Cornell University. [video]
Sky [2009] - Tampa Museum of Art [video]
Multiverse [2008] - in the National Gallery of Art concourse [video]
posted by obscurator (29 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
I somehow managed to forget that this was tonight. Or maybe I forgot that today was Tuesday?

If you click the link for The Bay Lights and get a page telling you the site is down, try pasting in the URL instead: http://thebaylights.org (or maybe it was just coincidental that I did that and the page loaded).

And it might rain tonight, so if you're going to go watch the lighting, be prepared!
posted by rtha at 11:18 AM on March 5, 2013


To stave off a potential "Is this the way tax dollars should be spent?" derail ...

The project has been privately financed for $8 million with quite a bit of support from Silicon Valley tech executives.
posted by ericb at 11:30 AM on March 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


I find his work to be quite Griswoldian.
posted by Kabanos at 11:30 AM on March 5, 2013 [6 favorites]


The project has been privately financed for $8 million with quite a bit of support from Silicon Valley tech executives.

Presumably one of these was from Cisco?
posted by entropicamericana at 11:35 AM on March 5, 2013 [7 favorites]


I've seen the Multiverse and Cosmos installations and liked them. Plus!
posted by aught at 11:53 AM on March 5, 2013


If only those Silicon Valley tech executives would fund a bike bridge extension from Treasure Island to SF so we can go ALL THE WAY across the bridge (new Eastern Span has ped/bikeway). I would put hella lights on my bike.
posted by WASP-12b at 12:04 PM on March 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


Surely this money would be better spent on providing homeless orphans with cable TV?
posted by blue_beetle at 12:09 PM on March 5, 2013


My first thought when I saw how they were set up was that it would make a killer persistence-of-vision thing like they had at the Exploratorium. I've struggled to find out anything about it either on or offsite but if you saw it out of the corner of your eye or relaxed a bit the light strips -- spaced nearly identically to how the span would be -- created some vision tricks to provide a gestalt. Really, I just want some fish or something to swim across...
posted by Ogre Lawless at 12:22 PM on March 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


The clips in the video look fantastic - can't wait to see it next time I'm in SF.
posted by maryr at 12:31 PM on March 5, 2013


Oh, I forgot to include Bridge of Light [NYT video].
posted by obscurator at 12:37 PM on March 5, 2013


Watching this thing during testing has been kind of amazing. The movement of the light produces patterns that are very elegant and sweet. Not at all what I'd suspect for a sculpture on such a massive object.
posted by jasper411 at 12:44 PM on March 5, 2013 [4 favorites]


How long until a Coke logo flashes across the bridge? This seems like an entry vector for our inevitable Diamond Age future.
posted by Keith Talent at 12:45 PM on March 5, 2013


Aw, it's not til 8.30. I'll be back in the east bay by then.
posted by TwoWordReview at 12:56 PM on March 5, 2013


God dammit, New York City has got a suspension bridge too, how did we end up with just a damn buckyball?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:14 PM on March 5, 2013


Villareal says he expects the bridge's light shows to bring $97 million to the area's economy.

Really?
posted by bread-eater at 1:18 PM on March 5, 2013


Villareal says he expects the bridge's light shows to bring $97 million to the area's economy.

Unfortunately, most of that will be spent in the private sector on Ecstasy and mushrooms.
posted by mykescipark at 1:22 PM on March 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


Unfortunately, most of that will be spent in the private sector on Ecstasy and mushrooms.


Unfortunately?
posted by Myca at 1:29 PM on March 5, 2013 [6 favorites]


Investment in arts and culture beats even investment in sport for multiplication of returns to an area.
posted by seanmpuckett at 2:10 PM on March 5, 2013


This is an amazing project and next time I have any excuse to visit California you can bet I will be making sure to come experience it.

I thought I was doing LED art on a pretty big scale at Burning Man, with the Groovik's Cube in 2009 and the Shame Spiral in 2011, but this project completely dwarfs anything I've ever even dreamed about.
posted by Mars Saxman at 2:11 PM on March 5, 2013


Dublin had a pretty interesting LED project of sorts a few years back. The Playhouse used Liberty Hall (Dublin's tallest building) as a programmable LED screen, to which users could submit their animations. But even that was pretty small scale compared to this.
posted by TwoWordReview at 2:44 PM on March 5, 2013


Privately funded or not, I'm of the opinion that this is a waste of money. And kind of a good metaphor: we'll spend a lot of money to make the existing transportation infrastructure look pretty, but we are reluctant to spend money on actual new infrastructure.
posted by MattMangels at 3:18 PM on March 5, 2013


MattMangles, this is a whole new bridge (eastern portion of it, anyway).
posted by waitangi at 3:24 PM on March 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Some argue that, on the contrary, we're spending entirely too much money on 'actual new infrastructure' (which will need to be maintained in perpetuity) while spending entirely too little effort on getting good use out of what we already have.
posted by alexei at 4:58 PM on March 5, 2013


It wasn't explicitly stated in the post - the lighting ceremony will be streamed, in a little under 3 hours from now.
posted by Pronoiac at 5:46 PM on March 5, 2013


Neat.
posted by homunculus at 5:58 PM on March 5, 2013


Yes, it's cheesy and cliche. But as a native San Franciscan, I admit non-ironic love of this yet again appropriate song.

KFOG (before it completely sucked) used this song as part of its soundtrack for KFOG Kaboom about 10 years ago, and watching fireworks to this song over the Bay Bridge was awesome, despite not really being a Journey fan.
posted by smirkette at 7:28 PM on March 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


The livestream's chatting with various corporate reps was kind of annoying, but I guess if you're gonna raise money for a big thingy like this, you gotta suck up to the sponsors.
posted by moonmilk at 9:00 PM on March 5, 2013


Wheee! Watching the livestream and it's pretty freaking cool.

http://thebaylights.org/view/
posted by gingerbeer at 9:07 PM on March 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


it was cold and wet and awesome-- I left after two minutes!
posted by TwelveTwo at 9:38 PM on March 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


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