artist’s rendering of ‘the bay lights’, a proposed 2-year lighting installation for the san francisco bay bridge

developed by american artist leo villareal, ‘the bay lights‘ is a proposed LED light installation for west span of the san francisco bay bridge. first announced in late 2011 for the 75th anniversary of the bridge’s opening, ‘the bay lights’ has just initiated the ‘tech challenge’ funding campaign to raise the final 1.8 million USD of the 7-8 million required for the project, which is supported by the san francisco board of supervisors and mayor ed lee.

25,000 white LEDs, spaced a foot apart on the suspension cables, comprises the technical foundation of the installation. villareal outfits phillips hardware with custom-made protective enclosures, utilizing max/MSP/jitter and his own software to obtain three-layer control of the ‘pixel grid’ created by the LEDs. while the bridge could theoretically be programmed to display any pixelated images or text, villareal intends that ‘bay lights’ reflect instead abstract patterns based loosely on water, traffic, and weather patterns.

artist’s video rendering of ‘the bay lights’ installation

the installation is seven times the scale of the eiffel tower’s 100th anniversary lighting, and villareal’s largest to date. it spans 1.5 miles wide and 230 feet high, viewable from the northeast of the city but invisible to drivers on the bridge itself, thus eliminating the possibility of distracted driving.

with successful funding, ‘the bay lights’ will be installed over the course of four to six months in late summer 2012 into 2013, for daily performance from dusk to midnight for two years. individuals can donate to the project on ’cause’s, or register to create a fundraising team through the ‘bay lights’ website.

early artist rendering

bay lights installation to illuminate the san francisco bay bridge additional rendered view

interview with leo villareal about ‘the bay lights’