Much of the inspiration for this piece comes from the presence of the three rivers in Pittsburgh. Providing the very foundation of Pittsburgh from Fort Pitt through the Industrial Era and into today, the rivers supply the livelihood and vitality for the city. Each and every day while the city bustles, the rivers flow. Their constant energy surrounds the downtown area and reflects the dynamism that is Pittsburgh. The separate bodies of water converge, intermingle, and literally become one. While the water flowing by the city on both sides is never actually the same, (with each moment renewed and reinventing itself), these rivers remain continuous. While the people
and histories of Pittsburgh continue to grow and change, certain things stay the same.
Our light-based piece describes all of these feelings and more through abstract patterns. The piece is visually constructed out of the interlocking of basic geometric shapes. While at first glance the overall pattern of these interlocking shapes may seem simple, the more one realizes the infinite ways components of these shapes can be turned “off and on”, the more complex and expansive the shapes begins to feel. Pittsburgh is a city created by the interlocking of 3 simple bodies of water. Within that simple interlocking, infinite possibilities emerge.
Simply put, from all the lights on to all the lights off and the 100’s of combinations in between, as well as the ability to “strobe” and/or fade on and off, the lighting patterns this piece can explore allow for a wildly diverse set of “animation” possibilities. This is an exciting fact, as it allows for us to almost think of this piece like a musical instrument: able to play any note or multiple notes at once, with the ability to set the tempo/rhythms. But just like making music, each of the compositions we make will be carefully sequenced—they will not be random, but thoughtful, evocative abstract compositions.
Throughout the day and night, the lighting designs will be broken into distinct 15-minute compositions. These 15-minute sequences allow for viewers to see a wide range of what the piece can do, without having to watch for hours. Each composition will begin slowly and escalate in activity towards the end of the 15-minutes. In addition, each hour will be made of 4 unique 15-minute compositions, with the final composition being the most dynamic and animated, as the piece moves toward the “top of the hour”. Beyond that, within each day there will be 4 distinct “styles” of sequences devoted to the different parts of each day: morning will be relatively calm, afternoon and evening will have more hustle and bustle, and night will be the most active and exciting. In total that is 96 unique 15-minute compositions per day.
Beyond this daily, 24-hour concept of marking time, there will be sequences that mark celestial events. Each full moon and new moon, each equinox, and each solstice will have distinct patterns. These patterns can be displayed for the entire day of these events, or be honed in to the specific hour surrounding the actual moment of occurrence. We have broken up time in these varied ways (from tiny 15-minutes markers to larger yearly markers) in order to shape a metaphor that speaks to Pittsburgh as a place experiencing multiple notions of change all at once. Elements of Pittsburgh change rapidly, on a minute-to-minute basis. Other elements unfold hourly, daily, or yearly. It also illuminates concepts of scale, connecting the daily to the annual, the local to the global. The dynamic intersections of Pittsburgh occur on local and international scales simultaneously.
The use of energy conserving LED programmable lighting nods to Pittsburgh’s ability to adapt it’s economy to the concerns of the 21st century, while the stable, constant metal armature underneath is a direct reference to Pittsburgh’s proud past.
The central radiating “star burst” gives a sense of depth, as well as an explosive, dynamic force. The orange overlapping triangles drawn from intersections in the circular pattern add complexity to the formal composition while, without being overly literal, reference the three rivers. There is an added element of playfulness that is created by the small circular shapes that can be interpreted as eyes. These eyes, when turned on and off, begin to create infinitely changeable human-like faces. Are these the past, present, and future people of this region, flickering by at lightning speed?
In general the piece has an overall sense of upbeat positivity, which is meant to represent the vibrant motion of Pittsburgh. Combining themes of interconnectivity, energy, simultaneity, and collectivity, the piece nods to the past, present, and future of Pittsburgh.