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Ambitious 2.1-Mile LED Sculpture Clears Board of Supervisors

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LightRail, a 2.1-mile-long LED scultpure that would render the movements of underground trains in lights above Market Street, won approval from the Board of Supervisors today in a unanimous vote. Sponsored by Illuminate the Arts, the nonprofit behind the Bay Lights, the sculpture would string 124,000 LEDs above Market, in what the group is calling the world's first subway-responsive light sculpture. Stretching all the way from the Embarcadero to Van Ness, the lights would reveal the trains' movements in colored pulses of light, effectively letting everyone on Market peer below ground without ever going under.

Artists George Zisiadis and Stefano Corazza came up with the design, which needed the supervisors' approval because it will attach to the overhead catenary system, which carries the electrical power for the city's trolleys and buses. "This is a more complex installation than the Bay Lights," Illuminate the Arts founder Ben Davis says, noting that variances change block by block. The next step is to put together a budget and fund-raising plan. In the most optimistic timeline—assuming funding comes together quickly—the nonprofit could begin installation soon enough to have the sculpture up and running in time for the US Conference of Mayors in June.

Davis sees LightRail as "a way to create connections across communities," in much the same way that the Bay Lights can be seen as a collective bonding exercise. "It's really enriching the street by greater inclusion rather than by asking anyone to leave," he says. "We want more people to come to Market Street—that's the intention of the work."

—Dylan Pilaar and Lamar Anderson

· LightRail [Official Site]
· Illuminate the Arts [Official Site]
· Illuminate the Arts Ramps Up Ambition for Innovative New Project: Light Rail [SF Examiner]
· A Sneak Peek at the Urban Interventions Popping Up on Market Street in 2015 [Curbed SF]