Finally, the much-talked about new art installation taking over the Bay Bridge is having its official premiere tonight. The Bay Lights installation, conceived by artist Leo Villareal, is made up of 25,000 individually programmed LEDs hung across the bridge, stretching 1.8 miles across the water.
The light patterns are loosely based on nature’s algorithms, especially the environment around the Bay Bridge: the wildlife, the weather, the ocean currents.
“I’m not literally using any sensors or making scientific visualizations,” Villareal, a board member of the Burning Man Project, told BuzzFeed. “If you want to think of it from a technology perspective, as the artist, I am the sensor.”
The $8 million project was individually funded by the Bay Area’s tech community, which make “seemingly impossible things happen on daily basis.” Villareal hopes the project becomes more than a showy display of technological prowess. Like any other work of public art, he wants these lights to start a conversation.
“The Bay Lights becomes almost a digital campfire that people can gather around,” he said. “Suddenly you are talking to people you wouldn’t have before. It is building community.”
If you want to gather around this digital campfire tonight for its opening ceremony, check out 7×7′s guide of nearby restaurants and watering holes with good views of the Bay Bridge. The Embarcadero is certain to be swamped, perhaps try venturing out to Treasure Island?