Two Chicago-based artists are attempting to fund what they call the largest public art installation in Chicago history. After a successful Kickstarter campaign to fund a beta test in August 2015, Jack Newell and Seth Unger are hoping to expand their Wabash Lights into a multi-block installation in Downtown Chicago.
The Wabash Lights is an interactive light installation illuminating the underside of the L tracks running over Wabash avenue on the east side of Chicago’s Loop. Wabash Avenue is often a dark corridor due to the elevated tracks, which Newell and Unger saw as an opportunity. If realized, the art piece will include 24,000 programmable LEDs. These multi-colored LEDs will be controllable by the public through a smartphone app or with text messaging.
In order to realize the full project, the team is looking to raise $50,000 through a new Kickstarter campaign. Another $25,000 has been donated by Comcast. The project has also received endorsements, but not money from Mayor Rahm Emanuel, the local Alderman, the Chicago Transit Authority, who maintain the tracks, or the Chicago Department of Transportation. Kickstarter supporters of the project will be able to buy and name individual pixels or entire light fixtures along the length of the project.
Currently, a 12-foot beta test set of lights has been installed for the last nine months as a proof of concept.