For the second year, San Francisco Travel (the city’s marketing organization) is organizing Illuminate SF, a two-month series of light art installations around the metropolis. This year’s version, taking place now through the end of the year, features 16 glowing pieces—11 of them permanent—including works by James Turrell, Ned Kahn,Vito Acconci, and James Carpenter. Many are integrated into San Francisco buildings, such as Morphosis’ San Francisco Federal Building, KMD’s SF Public Utilities Commission, the grain elevator at Pier 92, and various terminals at SFO. Cities like Cleveland and New York have held similar festivals in recent years.
Lighting artist Leo Villareal has been busy lately, opening installations in the New York City subway system and in Madison Square Park, but an even bigger achievement is set to debut tonight in San Francisco. Villareal has attached 25,000 LED lights to the San Francisco Bay Bridge and connected them to a computer in order to create dazzling lighting displays viewable from the city and the water along the suspension bridge.
Called The Bay Lights, the project celebrates the bridge’s 75th anniversary and is set to go live tonight at 8:30 PST. But don’t worry, if you’re not in San Francisco to view the installation from the Embarcadero or Telegraph Hill, the event will be streamed live online at the project’s website here. Until then, check out a couple videos below of the installation being tested. The Bay Lights is believed to be the largest of its type in the world and will be in San Francisco for two years, lit each night from dusk till 2:00a.m.
New York-based artist Leo Villareal is creatively illuminating the constructed form. In Madison Square Park, Villareal’s LED light-up geodesic dome, Buckyball, stands tall, undamaged but unlit after Hurricane Sandy. The Madison Square Park Conservancy told AN that the lights are expected to be back on tonight. And soon, Villareal also plans to light-up a far larger construction on the West coast: the San Francisco Bay Bridge.
Video rendering of the Bay Lights (courtesy TBL)
“What if the West Span [of San Francisco’s Bay Bridge] wasn’t a bridge and instead were a canvas?” asked Ben Davis, founder of creative agency Words Pictures Ideas and man behind the The Bay Lights (TBL) some time ago. That question soon became the foundation for San Francisco’s latest high-tech public art project that’s got even Silicon Valley abuzz. With the support of San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee and major Silicon Valley bigwigs, TBL is planning to put up an ethereal light show 1.5 miles wide and 230 feet high covering the west span of San Francisco’s Bay Bridge.