Silent Lights

Urban Matter Inc.

Funding Received: 2013
Brooklyn, NY
Funding Period: 1 year and 5 months
April 25, 2014

By Valeria Bianco

Last week our team organized a little field trip to visit our installation Silent Lights. It was over a month ago that we had last visited the site, and we were both apprehensive and excited to return. Silent Lights sits at a busy intersection in Downtown Brooklyn. There are a series of existing lights on the overpass above the gates that are controlled by a photochromatic sensor. We first lighted the installation during one of the shortest days of the year, so the lights on the overpass would come on at 5:00 p.m., greatly effecting the visual impact of our installation.

Right now as we approach the middle of April, there is more natural light at the site in the evening and the lights on the overpass do not come on until 7:30 p.m. We learned that this benefits Silent Lights since the light patterns inside the gates are visible for a longer period of time. The installation artistically enchants passerby under the overpass while also acting as a way-finder.

As we approach the six-month anniversary of the installation’s completion, we are brainstorming possible events to hold at the site and in the nearby Commodore Barry Park. We are also thinking of adding more light patterns to the existing ones with the gates and perhaps creating an open call for digital artists and programmers to submit their own codes for the lights, giving them a chance to see their work illuminated in Silent Lights.

Recent Wins
It has been great to see how the neighborhood has embraced Silent Lights and made it their own. Using the hashtag #silentlights, we have been collecting images and videos taken by passersby. It is apparent to us that more people are aware of the installation as more people are sending us their comments along with their images. At the site, the path is cleaner and has less litter than previously. Most impressive of all is that there has been no vandalism or graffiti tagging on the structures.

We were so pleased to see all the light programs in Silent Lights working seamlessly when we visited recently just like they did on the day they were first illuminated back in December. We still foresee some maintenance needed on the LED lights in the future, though. Our main concern is rust. One of the five gates is showing a significant amount of rust on all its surfaces. Even though we treated all the gates with anti-rust paint, we realized that the first gate is much more exposed to the elements, including direct sunlight, rain, and snow. In the upcoming weeks we’ll set up a cleaning day where we’ll wipe down all the gates and disassemble the first gate to see which of its panels can be savaged and which need replacement.