Swarm Street

Access to art, nature and beauty, every day for everybody. Even in a tunnel. Perhaps especially in a tunnel, one that’s always been little more than on the way to someplace else – anyplace else. Where it’s least expected.

“When someone passes you, when someone comes toward you, some sparkles veer off in a different direction, and a new flock of fireflies emerges,” says artist Vito Acconci. Acconci Studio of New York designed “Swarm Street”, which is located in a “tunnel” on the Indianapolis Cultural Trail: A Legacy of Gene & Marilyn Glick.

Technically, it’s not really a tunnel at all. It’s a ground-level space underneath large buildings that includes parking lots, converging streets, confusion and darkness. Plenty of darkness.

So what’s cool about it right now, with winter setting in, is that hardly anyone – pedestrian, motorist or brave bicyclist – really knows what’s happening other than another on the city’s countless construction projects. Maybe something to do with the upcoming Super Bowl here in Indy. Maybe some new lights in a dank space that’s forever been a creepy black hole.

Piece-by-piece, the project is coming to life. The first pods of aluminum tubes were hung to steel rails, forming an “M, which represents the beginning stages of the project’s “bird shape.” Each pod has about a dozen LEDs, or light-emitting diodes and there will be 178 pods connected together to make up the 1,000-LED framework. The framework hangs from cables that are attached to the steel rail, which attaches to steel anchored firmly into the concrete overpass. Once completed, the sculpture will extend about 200 feet over the Cultural Trail’s pathway on the west side of Delaware Street.

Shining a light on the sculpture, blue and red tube lighting was newly installed, providing an accent to the existing gray. The lowest part of the sculpture will hang about 9 feet (at its lowest point) off the ground when finished, creating a significant aesthetic impact for pedestrians while adding visual appeal even when the LEDs aren’t in “fireflies” mode.

Ivan Robinette of Shiel Sexton, which is spearheading our construction efforts, says nothing like this has been done before. And it hasn’t – which ought to make the experience for everyone who uses it really spectacular, and hopefully demonstrate how art, beauty and nature (in this case, all three) really add to our shared spaces, how we experience those spaces, and what we should demand from shared spaces as a community.

For more information about “Swarm Street” and the Indianapolis Cultural Trail visit www.indyculturaltrail.org.

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