Red Echo

March 6, 2013

The Bay Lights

Leo Villareal’s project The Bay Lights is the most impressive piece of LED art ever made. It is impressive in a technical sense – 25,000 individually controlled LEDs, lining the vertical stringers along the Bay Bridge – but it also demonstrates a graceful, elegant subtlety of creative thought. There’s no disco strobe effect here, there’s no HEY LOOK AT ME pulsing and hard-edged geometry; the awesome power of the $8 million light network serves subtle, detailed, gently evolving animation effects. Shadows, glows, particles, waves; motions that feel like the sweep of car headlights around a distant curve, the glow under rising fog, the sparkle of frost on a February morning.

If it’s night in the Bay Area, you should watch it for a while. Don’t expect it to do anything remarkable right away – you need to watch it for a few minutes.