Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Behind the illumination!

A Conversation with Leni Schwendinger.
The artist discusses lighting the Coney Island landmark and its potentially brighter future.

The lighting schemes have a subtle and mysterious quality. Viewed from up close, the tower emanates light and looks very majestic. But people had the expectation that it would be brighter. As you walk farther away, you can see the red sparkles, but you lose that bathed-in-color effect.

The LEDs manufactured by Phoster Lighting are a very complex design which has a tri-focus specifically pointed to the Verrazano Bridge, which we were asked to do, to some of the highways like the BQE, to various roads out to the other side, and also to the water and beach and the boardwalk. This funny looking wonderfully wacky little light is rotated on its axis very deliberately all around the structure and that’s where you get the sparkle. You move in and out of focus if you look up at it and if you’re walking. And so that’s how the sparkle is derived. Literally each light is pointing in three directions.

What’s next for the Parachute Jump?
Our first concept that everyone really wanted was beyond budget and it’s still a possibility. During the day, you see the big round spheres where the parachutes went up. Right now the LEDS actually ring half of that scallop shape on the canopy. The original idea showed the rings studded with LEDs floating down theatrically on computer-controlled winches. They would come down 12 or 15 feet. That would have made it more recognizable. Imagine these lit up rings going down and you can control them, the speed and everything, floating up and down!

Excerpts from
Urban Journal article by Tricia Vita [MetropolisMag]

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