One of us lives on the east coast. One of us lives on the west.

One of us lives in a rural community. One of us lives in a city.

Both of us wander. Both of us witness. Both of us write.

This is a record of what we find.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Light as Sculpture

There’s something happening out on the San Francisco Bay—a landscape of mesmerizing, rippling LED lights that cover 300 vertical cables on the western span of the San Francisco Bay Bridge between the Embarcadero and Yerba Buena Island.

I can see it from several vantage points near my house, including my roof and back porch window. Each time I catch a glimpse, I’m thrilled. It’s dazzeling, magical the way it dances across the water.

Designed by renowned artist Leo Villaral as a public arts project, The Bay Lights is a light sculpture inspired by the Bay Bridge’s 75th anniversary. It opened on March 5th and will continue for two years (or hopefully longer the funding can be raised) It consists of 25,000 white LED lights each computer programed by Villaral to create a never repeating pattern of light from dusk to dawn. It covers 1.8 miles and leaps up the cables 500 feet. It’s the largest light sculpture in the world.

Light is a wonderful medium. I’m a devotee of another San Francisco based artist, Jim Campbell, and his numerous light sculpture installations. His Exploded Views brought me back to SFMOMA again and again to be enchanted by the chandelier-like sculpture that hung over the front doors with the ever changing shadow figures fleeting across the ethereal matrix, with four different programs; a collaboration with Alonzo King’s LINES Ballet, a flock of birds, the candid movements of San Francisco pedestrians and a choreographed boxing match

Last week, I had the privilege of seeing Miwa Matreyek present a work in progress and then her spell binding Myth And Infrastructure in an outdoor performance at the new gorgeous Exploratorium at Pier 15. (more on that next time!) Miwa uses light, video, animation and performance to create a stunning vision, where the line between what is real and what is fantasy/illusion blurs, creating a world of its own that viewers fall into. The experience is part cinema, part live theater, with light as the medium of magic.

As we left the Exploratorium around 10:30 at night, we were treated to a spectacular lazer light show, projected onto the front of the Pier.  

Light can also be a transportive element in writing—it can play many roles from simple atmosphere to the objective correlative, showing character emotion—how the character perceives his or her surroundings or what the character choses to focus on can speak volumes about their emotional landscape.

It was well over a century ago that Nathaniel Hawthorne said, “Moonlight is sculpture”

And then there’s this: “In the beginning there was nothing.  God said, "Let there be light!"  And there was light.  There was still nothing, but you could see it a whole lot better.”  Thank you, Ellen DeGeneres!

Here are links to videos showing some work by the artists mentioned above:

Myth And Infrastructure:

Take Good Care,


1 comment:

  1. What a thought provoking and enlightening post! Thanks, Sharry : )