Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Alone in the Dark with (Impossible) Light --- Day 3/129

Walk: Legion of Honor, Balboa Theater, Union Square
Distance: 3 miles

A film I wanted to see at our recent Film Festival was sold out so I thought I'd missed it.  But it is playing a very limited engagement at a neighborhood theater, and today's the last day.  So I - alone in the city as it turned out - rearranged plans  to get there.  
(Kind of an interesting experience having a theater to yourself).

The movie was a documentary on the artistic installation of lights on a 1.5 mile stretch of our Bay Bridge.  The title is Impossible Light and it is essentially an in-depth study of the many forces that went into the 'Cristo' type endeavor of installing 25,000 LED lights to make that section of the Bay Bridge an abstract fine art sculpture.  It follows all the 'players' -  the artist (Leo Villareal), the Bridge authorities, the technological engineers and the Bridge engineers, the fund raiser, the local politicians.  A true in depth exposition of the variables and difficulties involved in creating and funding a monumental art work that echoes all such endeavors from the beginning of civilization.  The Great Wall, Pyramids, Roman Colosseum,  Eiffel Tower, virtually all public structures everywhere.  This was one San Francisco version and quite informative about such a process.

The question that isn't in the movie is the one Ciwt - and who knows how many others - has had from the beginning:  Is it 'right' for a group of dreamers and artists with funding to turn a utilitarian structure, a visible part of the infrastructure and daily lives of an entire urban area, into a work of art?  Does that usurp for a small (but powerful and monied) group what belongs to everyone and has meaning to each in his/her own way and turn it into something cute, pretty, arty?  What if - and it is entirely possible with all the money hence clout being created here - more and more office buildings, historical structures, edifices of their choice - were similarly converted to Art?  Our natural - and truly wondrous beauty - is one thing; gilding that with cute lights and whatever is quite another.

All that said, the Bay Bridge light show is absolutely meditative, lovely, an artistic and engineering wonder and I believe a visual enhancement to our area.  (As an aside, I also felt Cristo's orange gates in Central Park were so beautiful just pictures of them made me teary. But many New Yorkers felt they defaced the landscape.  So there you go.) 

Apparently the original contract for the Bay Bridge lights is for two years.  (Cristo's Gates were up for 15 days, which must have been the length of his and Jeanne-Claude's contract). But a campaign is underway to find funding to keep The Bay Lights until 2026.

Much for Ciwt to think about alone in the dark.

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