Silent Lights

Urban Matter Inc.

Funding Received: 2013
Brooklyn, NY
Funding Period: 1 year and 5 months
August 17, 2013


The past month saw us working together with the Urban Arts Department of the NYCDOT to move to a new site in Brooklyn for our installation. The original site was reclaimed by the New York State DOT for a reconstruction project that will replace 54,000 square feet of bridge deck and repair deteriorated structural steel on the Gowanus Expressway Viaduct in Kings County near the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel. The new site will now be located at Park Ave and Navy Street. - The intersection of Downtown Brooklyn, the Brooklyn Navy Yard, Dumbo and Fort Greene under the Brooklyn Queens Expressway where its main entrance and exit ramps are. The site is flanked by the Commodore Barry Park on one side and the Walt Whitman and Ingersoll housing projects on the other side.

A meeting was held with the NYCDOT representatives on Aug 6th to begin moving forward with the project and to work out the logistics of installing the first gate. We worked out a revised electrical plan and the representatives from NYCDOT have shared it with the required parties in order to get the permits needed to move forward. At present we are in the process of finding a bigger studio space to work on our light boxes each of which is close to 4’x4’x7” in size and weigh 10 pounds each. A total of 10 light-boxes will be created for the full installation. In the meantime our metal fabricators Serett Metalworks are in the process of completing all the metalwork on the project which includes creating the main body of the installation using perforated sheet metal on an aluminum frame.

Recent Wins

The recent wins for our project includes finding a new site with conditions and properties similar to our old site when our old site was taken over for reconstruction work. We were also contacted by SXSW Eco Design awards to invite us to submit our project to compete in their competition which focuses on visionary design work that achieves a positive community impact through the creation or re-imagining of public spaces. We were also invited to submit our project to the PSFK’s future of lighting report.  PSFK is a NYC-based company who speaks to an audience of 1 million+ creative professionals each month through their news site.


We’ve been working on Silent Lights for close to two years now. The sudden change of site required us to readjust and rethink the outcome of the project in terms of community impact. By reconnecting with our community partners, we’ve opened up the conversation around how the project could remain true to its agenda and projected impact. We’ve thought about the possibility of making the project travel to different underpass locations in Brooklyn to maximize its impact related to creative placemaking and neighborhood revival. Silent Lights as a project will creatively address placemaking issues and bring about a positive urban experience regardless of where it is installed because from very early on we focused on the human conditions of the site and not just the site itself.