Soon San Francisco Bay Area commuters will have something more entertaining to stare at in traffic than the tail lights of the car in front of them. As the Bay Bridge enters its 75th year in 2013, it is set to be embellished with a display of 25,000 individually programmed white LEDs in a project called “The Bay Lights”. Created by New York artist Leo Villareal, the project will illuminate the bridge’s west span with the world’s largest animated light installation beginning on March 5, 2013.
As one of the world’s most incredible feats of engineering, the Bay Bridge deserves a world-class celebration of its significance. This March, artist Leo Villareal will complete his installation, The Bay Lights. The project will use complex algorithms to control 25,000 LED lights, creating animations that will traverse the west span of the Bridge. Villareal is known internationally for his work – his light sculptures are in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Naoshima Contemporary Art Museum in Kagawa, Japan.
The installation of the LEDs is being overseen by Illuminate the Arts, a non-profit that has been sending crews to set up 500 LEDs at a time in the middle of the night. Privately funded, Illuminate the Arts has a budget of $8 million. With over 50 million people in the Bay Area and billions more able to view the work online, The Bay Lights estimates that the installation could add up to $97 million to the local economy. While it will not be ready in time for the 75th anniversary of the Bridge, it will be finished for America’s Cup and the completion of the new eastern span.