Glasgow lights
May 23, 2006 1:47 PM   Subscribe

The Kingston Bridge, a neglected urban bridge in Glasgow was recently resurrected as a public work of art by Leni Schwendinger. Lighting was added under the bridge to highlight the architecture but it also reacted to use. The more traffic flowing on the roads above, the more red is displayed, as the tide rises, blues dominate, resulting in some pretty cool, ever-changing public art on a grand scale.
posted by mathowie (14 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
What a great idea.
posted by Ynoxas at 2:10 PM on May 23, 2006

posted by the cuban at 2:16 PM on May 23, 2006

Nice post. This is the kind of thing I think it would be cool to have more of, but often, when something like this is proposed, it's shot down by folks that think it's a waste of money.
posted by BeerFilter at 2:18 PM on May 23, 2006

posted by sgt.serenity at 3:18 PM on May 23, 2006

This is weird. Mainly because I can see this bridge from my flat. The council, more adept to pissing our money up a wall, have spent a bit of money on architectural lighting. Worthwhile, I reckon. From my window I can also see some of the prettiest lights in the city, trees along the River Clyde wrapped in millions ice blue LEDs, beautiful when the sun goes down, literally luminous. Many of the city's bridges are also lit wonderfully well. Our thanks go to NVA. Jack_Mo could probably fill you in about the Radience Festival of Light last year too.
posted by brautigan at 3:21 PM on May 23, 2006

But, yeah, what sgt.serenity implied.
posted by brautigan at 3:22 PM on May 23, 2006

sorry guys , flying the jenners flag a wee bit there but if Edinburgh started doing all these dressy bessy things as well'd be left for dead looks as though it's starting now with the cow parade.
I think all these things are a total distraction from the fact that some serious demolition needs to get underway in Glasgow , you cant stick lightbulbs on concrete blocks forever and people in Glasgow (who are lovely by the way) deserve a lot better than the buildings they currently have.
posted by sgt.serenity at 4:00 PM on May 23, 2006

Jack_Mo could probably fill you in about the Radience Festival of Light last year too.

Sure can: they spent £500, 000 of our money on a load of absolute shite! With a couple of exceptions, admittedly, like Dave Bryant's 'Trapped', but it was mostly so bad that I had to beg the magazine I was reviewing it for to drop the piece and let me cover something else instead. Don't even get me started on that stupid hippie fire organ thing... Really odd that the festival was that, ahem, dull and lacklustre, as organisers nva are known for making totally fucking amazing environmental art projects (like this, or this).

The municipal lighting projects, or commissions like this one have all been pretty great, though - it's hard to walk past the Mitchell Library at night without stopping, the Tolbooth Steeple looks great, as does the Tron Church, and those twinkly blue LEDs look terribly pretty, as brautigan says. I'll be really interested to see what impact all this has had on public safety, too - some of the newly-lit areas used to be a bit shady, in both senses, and certainly feel a lot safer now.
posted by jack_mo at 5:02 PM on May 23, 2006

I have to say, and I'm ashamed of this, that my first thought was wow, and my second was "but I bet it gets vandalized in no time." Since I have no idea if this is true, can anyone speak from experience regarding the lifespan of urban art projects? Do the hooligans leave them alone or is it just another target? (because this is awesome and we need more of it)
posted by dreamsign at 5:19 PM on May 23, 2006

Reactive lighting is cool. There was a project a couple of years ago, in a field outside Bath, England, where bulbs were powered by overhead power lines. As dusk fell, electricity demand grew, and the lights got brighter. Link here.
posted by veedubya at 5:37 PM on May 23, 2006

Well, this has been here since last July, so I expect if it was going to be trashed it would've happened by now. If you look at the second picture linked in the post, you can see that the lighting rig is very sturdy indeed, which probably wasn't accidental!

I reckon public art is less likely to be wrecked if it's made and installed with the involvement of the local community (which is the only way you'd get funding to make public art nowadays, really) - eg. Toby Paterson installed sculptural forms in a park here in Glasgow, which were designed after consultation with local kids and their families to serve multiple purposes, as art, as benches and as objects that skateboarders and kids on rollerblades could use for their tricks. They've not been damaged in three years. Another artist here, I forget who, made a massive sculpture of a head last year on some waste ground near some tower blocks without consulting anyone. It didn't last the first night (which was 'part of the work', of course!).
posted by jack_mo at 5:49 PM on May 23, 2006

I would have lit up in all those rasta colours , stuck up some palm trees on it and had some ska / reggae blarin out every now and then.
posted by sgt.serenity at 1:46 AM on May 24, 2006

Another artist here, I forget who, made a massive sculpture of a head last year on some waste ground near some tower blocks without consulting anyone. It didn't last the first night (which was 'part of the work', of course!).

It was Alex Frost.

As an aside, at some point last year I went for a wander through the east end/Roystonhill etc with my camera, and when I got to Toby Paterson's stuff in the grounds of the park there were loads of kids playing there, one of whom announced, unprompted, that the benches/sculptures etc. were "great, by the way, mister, it was some speccy ginger guy did them all".
posted by Len at 6:55 AM on May 24, 2006

The festival of light was dreadful. I remember one thing that amounted to a chumper, in a tent, with a torch.

The sgt's probably right about Glasgow's architecture: at every beautiful building Jack mentioned, you only have to turn 90˚to see something truly hideous, especially in the case of the Mitchell Library, where every other direction is a fright.
posted by bonaldi at 9:24 AM on May 24, 2006

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