Silent Lights

Urban Matter Inc.

Funding Received: 2013
Brooklyn, NY
Funding Period: 1 year and 5 months
August 28, 2014

By Valeria Bianco

Update & Recent Win
July marked the six months anniversary of Silent Lights. It was also exactly one year ago that we visited the location to measure and do site surveys, so we have now experienced the site, in all of the four seasons. Observing the piece over time, we noticed the winter and spring took a toll on the structure and rust made an unwelcome appearance on two of the gates. In order to address this we are overhauling the piece, by sending the panels to get powder-coated. The decision to perform this major clean up coincides with the fantastic music festival that just took place right next door to the installation, the Afro Punk Festival.

“Described by the New York Times as the most multicultural festival in the US, the word AFROPUNK itself has become synonymous with open-minded, non-conforming and unconventional, placing the institution at the epicenter of urban culture inspired by alternative music.”

The Festival runs the weekend of August 23rd and since Silent Lights is responsive to sound, we thought this would be great opportunity to see the art installation respond to a local music festival. During the festival we reprogramed the LED’s to follow the beats of the festival’s performances. Once a year the nearby Commodore Park is transformed by this great event and we want Silent Lights to be part of the fun!

When dealing with public installation there is always an ‘unknown’ factor, it has been interesting to watch the installation reacting to the elements and developing new surface colors as the seasons pass. From the planning stages to site visits, we did not realize how exposed to the elements part of the structure would really be, leading us to some materials choices that in hindsight were not appropriate.

This being our first large scale public installation, among the many lessons learned, one of the most important was the need to allow a larger maintenance budget, in order to undertake the August overhaul we sought additional grants to help us cover these unplanned expenses.

The fact that we continue to receive emails from various people, whom are unknown to us, saying that they had seen the piece and loved it, still surprises us and continues to lift our spirits. As a result we are in the process of developing Silent Lights 2.0, with more efficient micro-controllers which can control neopixel LEDs, stainless steel body which is rust proof and a reduced design for ease of transport. This would allow us to introduce the project in other neighborhoods without extended maintenance budgets and timeline.