The biggest piece of public art in Chicago’s history – an interactive light sculpture under the Wabash L tracks, designed by you.
About this project
The Wabash Lights were born out of a question: can we create the biggest piece of public art in Chicago’s history – a piece that is created by the public?
The Wabash Lights is an art installation of light fixtures on the underside of the elevated train tracks on Wabash Avenue in Chicago, Illinois. Using over 24,000 programmable light emitting diodes (LEDs) to transform an iconic piece of Chicago infrastructure and history, The Wabash Lights will create a publicly accessible canvas for a dynamic, interactive and creative experience that will in turn re-energize Wabash Avenue and redefine the Chicago Loop.
Once fully installed, The Wabash Lights will be programmable by anyone with a phone through app or text; the first work of public art to marry light, technology and community.
IS THIS MAGIC? (HOW IT WORKS)
The above prototype video demonstrates how anyone will be able to text the lights to change colors. This is just the beginning of what The Wabash Lights will be able to do!
In August 2015, we successfully raised $60,000 through Kickstarter to install The Wabash Lights Beta Test. The Beta Test has given us the opportunity to test the lights, troubleshoot challenges and promote the lights. We are returning to Kickstarter again because it’s important to us that The Wabash Lights be seeded by the public. Public art is often created by one, paid for by few, but meant for everyone. We want to reverse that notion and bring the voice of the people that will enjoy and experience The Wabash Lights into our efforts as donors and designers.
As a Kickstarter supporter, you’ll one of the first people to design the lights, and then you get preferential treatment to jump the line when queues start to form.
A loud, dark stretch of the city, Wabash Avenue is largely avoided by tourists, but it is uniquely Chicago; it is where Chicagoans work, live and commute. Canopied by the industrial, iconic elevated tracks, Wabash Avenue is an authentic, but under appreciated backbone of Chicago.
The Wabash Lights are a catalyst for continued transformation of Wabash Avenue into a hub for the arts. Further, data shows that major public art installations directly increase tourism and commerce, retain and expand existing businesses and strengthen civic pride.
PROJECT SUPPORTERS + STAKEHOLDERS
Supporters of the project include, Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Alderman Brendan Reilly, The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA), and The Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT).
Additionally, Comcast is proud to announce that they’ve come onboard as Official Technology Sponsor and are providing $25,000 in funding for The Wabash Lights. Comcast’s goal is to connect the power of the Internet to the arts to bring together, delight and entertain millions of Chicagoans and tourists from all over the world.
OTHER COOL PROJECT OUTCOMES
- Foster a safer, well lit downtown
- Revitalize a historic Chicago district
- Highlight the unique and authentic character of Chicago
- Beautify the “L” (elevated tracks)
- Create a new destination in the Chicago Loop
- Put the public in public art
- Boost tourism, broaden the profile of visitors to Chicago
- Re-define public art
WE’LL JUST LEAVE THESE HERE
- The Daily Dot – The Sprawling Art Installation in Chicago You Can Control With Your Phone
- Chicagoist – The Wabash Lights: A Conversation With The Designers
- Architect Magazine – ‘Wabash Lights’ to Illuminate Chicago’s Elevated Tracks
- CityLab – How Two Artists Hope to Liven Up Chicago’s ‘L’ Tracks
- Chicago Tribune – Wabash Lights exceeds Kickstarter goal, hopes to begin test this fall
- Curbed – Wabash Lights Creators Raise $60K on Kickstarter for Beta
- Chicago Tribune – Wabash Lights public art test to begin next week
- Thrillist – Chicago’s “L” Tracks are Becoming a Futuristic Light Show
- F News Magazine – Wabash Lights Merge Technology, Public Infrastructure, Art
Charles Adler, Founder – Center for Lost Arts
Brenda Berman, BB Communications
Nick Brown, Founder – Glappitnova
Jenni Button, Gallery Director – Matthew Rachman Gallery
Eric Gannon, Studio Director – Gensler
Jordan Ho, Head of Product – Label Insight
Tristan Hummel, Mosaic North America
Bruce Sheridan, Chair of Cinema Art + Science – Columbia College Chicago
Angel Ysaguirre, Executive Director – Illinois Humanities
Risks and challenges
In the previous Kickstarter, we raised funds for a “beta test” – to install a portion of lights on the tracks to troubleshoot vibrations, safety, light durability, and interactivity. We also used it as a way for us to establish a workflow with our partners ILC and Aldridge Electric as well as our city partners.
With the beta test up for 9 months now, we know the lights will work, they are not a distraction, the vibrations are negligible, and we’ve figured out interactivity.
The risks and challenges we face now are funding related. This kickstarter will probably not raise the total funds needed to install 2 full blocks of lights. Our goal is to use the kickstarter to create a groundswell of grassroots support to convince corporate, private, and foundational support to join.