Design for Urban Living

Light Fantastic


Posted on February 16th, by David Bjorngaard in Here/There, The Moment. No Comments

This past week I ran into Leo Villereal’s work at every turn. On a break from work, I saw a great show at Jessica Silverman/fused space gallery. Watching the Super Bowl fireworks show, there was Villereal’s work at the Bay Bridge as a back drop {click here}. And then there on the back page of Architectural Digest was his installation at the Renwick Gallery at the Smithsonian Museum. Clearly there is a convergence of interest in the work.

The Bay Lights, site specific installation at the Bay Bridge, 2013, LEDs, custom software #leovillareal

The Bay Lights, site specific installation at the Bay Bridge, 2013

Volume (Renwick), 2015, site specific installation at the Renwick Gallery, white LEDs, mirror finished stainless stell, custom software, electrical hardware, #leovillareal

Volume (Renwick), 2015, site specific installation at the Renwick Gallery

Renwick Wonder

The work of Leo Villereal resonates with me: its fluid, evolving, and utilizes technology to create eye-catching, ephemeral installations that compliment the viewer in a way that makes us feel hip and modern for getting it. Usually working in installation format, the site-specific works morph into organic forms or simply turn on-off in random fashion. These pieces take advantage of the minutiae of  LED lighting combined with the speed and finesse of computer programming software and electrical hardware.

Cosmos, 2012, site specific installation at the Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University, white LEDs, custom software, electrical hardware #leovillareal

Cosmos, 2012, site specific installation at the Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University

The computer software and electrical hardware provide the vehicle for the visual manifestation of code–an artist-written algorithm employing the binary system of 1s and 0s telling each LED when to turn on or off. This simple command creates lighting sequences that synchronize or randomly diverge. It also changes how we think of code, from a line of characters that can be read on any screen to an object that must be witnessed in the museum.

National Gallery, LEDS, wood, custom software, electrical hardware, #leovillareal

Site specific installation at the National Gallery.  Click {here} to view.

Each installation seems to fully activate the space of the building. “Fully engaging in each of the environments is part of the goal,” says Villareal. The large-scale installations feel magical and transport you to a different reality: lying out in the country watching a meteor shower in the night sky, gazing at icicles hanging from a chalet, or being a little out of your mind viewing the scene in a cleaned up Times Square. Regardless of where they transport you, they do. And wouldn’t it be magical to have an installation like this over your dining table, or in your entry hall suspended over a grand staircase? Well that is a good dream to have.

 

Public Space Changes 2012

Public Space Changes, 2012

Untitled, 2014, LEDs, plexiglas, custom software, electrical hardware #leovillereal

Untitled, 2014

Red Life, 1999, Plexiglas, incandescent light bulbs, custom software, electrical hardware #leovillareal

Red Life, 1999

Sky (for San Jose), 2010, LEDs, painted metal, custom software, electrical hardware #leovillareal

Sky (for San Jose), 2010

What I admire about Leo Villereal’s work is that you can see the trajectory, from experimentation and working with incandescent bulbs and flat two dimensional surfaces to working in three dimensions that fully activate a space. The work continues to explore color-field territory with the aim of creating an “optically potent object”, while also seeking to explore the creation of shapes and volumes hanging in space. This personal growth and pushing the envelope into new territory is one that I can admire and hope to emulate.

Cube, 2011, White LEDs, mirror finished stainless steel, custom software, electrical hardware #leovillareal #bjornstudio

Cube, 2011, White LEDs, mirror finished stainless steel, custom software, electrical hardware

Buckyball, 2015, LEDs, custom software, electrical hardware, base #leovillareal

Buckyball, 2015, LEDs, custom software, electrical hardware, base

David Bjørngaard, February 2016





What do you think?