Bay Bridge Morphs Into LED Project

San Francisco - It is the world’s largest LED art project on the Bay area’s other iconic bridge.

“Bay Lights” consisting of 25,000 LED lights on the western span of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, opened last week to applauding crowds viewing from the shoreline.

Art collectors of Art Kabinett social media network adore this important addition to the local art scene.

Artist Leo Villareal, pictured here, controls the display through his personal computer. He flips the switch every night for the next two years.

“The idea is to augment these iconic structures which are already here and kind of the symbols of the Bay area, by adding another layer to them of light controlled by software," he stated in a press release.

The $8 million project is funded entirely by private donations from some of the biggest names in technology, including Marissa Mayer, chief executive officer of Yahoo! Inc, and Marc Pincus, CEO and chairman of Zynga Inc.

“I live and work in the city, my office overlooks the bridge,” said project supporter Jean-Pierre Conte, chairman of Genstar Capital LLC. “When in your life are you going to have an opportunity to take a major traffic artery, beautiful bridge and turn it into a world class art installation?”

The artwork spans almost 2 miles in length, requiring some 100,000 feet of cable for power.

Villareal uses various algorithms to generate patterns such as rainfall, reflections on water, bird flight, expanding rings, and others. Villareal's patterns and transitions will be sequenced and their duration determined by a computerized random number generator to make each viewing experience unique. Owing to the efficiency of the LED system, the estimated operating cost is only $30.14 per night.

Leo Villareal is known internationally for his light sculptures and site-specific architectural works.

The Artist

His art is part of the permanent collections of prestigious museums including the Museum of Modern Art in New York and Naoshima Contemporary Art Museum in Kagawa, Japan. Recent exhibitions include a survey show organized by the San Jose Museum of Art, San Jose, CA, which continues to tour several museums in the United States.

On October 22, Leo unveiled “Cosmos,” composed of nearly 12,000 mesmerizing LEDs installed above the Johnson Museum’s Mallin Sculpture Court at Cornell University, Ithaca, NY.

Another new piece, “Buckyball,” largely inspired by the work of Buckminster Fuller, opened October 25 in Manhattan’s Madison Square Park. Major site-specific works include “Multiverse” in the National Gallery of Art’s Concourse in Washington, D.C. and “Hive” for the Bleecker Lafayette Street subway station in Manhattan.

His work is also a focal point of the James Corner Field Operations design team that will renew Chicago’s Navy Pier.

Leo Villareal's art is represented by Gering & López Gallery, NYC and CONNERSMITH, Washington D.C.

Bay Bridge

Designed by Charles H. Purcell, and built by American Bridge Company, it opened for traffic on November 12, 1936, six months before the Golden Gate Bridge. It originally carried automobile traffic on its upper deck, and trucks and trains on the lower, but after the closure of the Key System, the lower deck was converted to road traffic as well.

As part of Interstate 80 and the direct road route between San Francisco and Oakland, it carries approximately 280,000 vehicles per day on its two decks. It has one of the longest spans in the world.