Sometimes it sparkles; other moments, it shimmers or cascades. Because software mimics the ebb and flow of the water, you never know exactly what the 25,000 LEDs placed on San Francisco’s Bay Bridge will do next, and that’s entirely what makes them so hypnotic.
When we last wrote about Leo Villareal’s Bay Lights project, he was in the late stages of debugging the hand-coded algorithms that randomly pattern the 1.8-mile bridge. Now, the $8 million project is live for the world to see. And it’s stunning.
But beyond the artistic achievement, Bay Lights is a technical marvel. I can hardly believe that a few LEDs—the same technologies that make our electronics glow in our living rooms—can produce such a massive visualization, all while sipping on less than $1,000 in electrical costs per month. That’s eco-friendly, and it produces solid margins for the city, too, which stands to make an estimated $97 million from the increased tourism. Take that, Alcatraz.James Ewing]