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.
“The Bay Bridge slipped into her sexy sister’s shadow and silently slogged for nearly 75 years. With her diamond anniversary upon us, I wanted to give the gray lady a moment to sparkle again,” said Davis.
Developed by American artist Leo Villareal, the installation, targeted to start at the end of this year, definitely won’t lack sparkle. The project comprises 25,000 individually programmable LED lights set to produce abstract patterns inspired by the bridge’s surroundings. When finished, the two-year light show will be seven times the scale of the Eiffel Tower’s 100th anniversary lighting display.
Not to worry though, motorists, no need for sunglasses while driving at night; Davis said the LEDs will be set one foot apart and “placed on the outside of the two-and-a-quarter inch vertical suspension cables, facing away from drivers,” effectively making them invisible to the bridge’s commuters.
But before the Golden Gate gets its silvery sister, TBL needs to raise $1.8 million by July 1. The project has already raised $5.2 million in gifts and pledges thanks in part to a Tech Challenge it launched last May. High-tech investors include angel investor Ron Conway, tech investor Adam Gross, and WordPress Founder Matt Mullenweg. If you want to add to the pot, support the project on Causes.