The Golden Gate Bridge has been an artistic landmark since it was finished in 1937, even serving as a modern-day muse for tech industry visionaries such as Jack Dorsey. But its plainer stepsister, the six months older San Francisco Bay Bridge, is finally about to have its long-awaited moment in the spotlight.
That’s thanks to ‘The Bay Lights,’ a project kicking off this evening at 9:00pm PT that will turn the Bay Bridge into the world’s largest LED light sculpture every evening for the next two years. The project, headed up by technologist and artist Leo Villareal, will illuminate the 1.8 mile western span of the bridge with 25,000 LED lights individually programmed with unique algorithms to show a never-repeating display — it’ll be viewable from San Francisco and points north, but not to drivers crossing the bridge. The Bay Lights will be illuminated each night from dusk until 2:00am through 2015.
It’s a clearly ambitious project that first took root more than two years ago. It came to fruition in large part because from the beginning it caught the eye of some of technology’s biggest names, people and companies who invested money in the project and supported its regulatory approval. It’s all privately funded, and should cost some $8.8 million in total to keep the project going until 2015; $6 million of that has already been raised and put toward the installation itself. To date, The Bay Lights’ investors including Bay Area tech luminaries including Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, SV Angel founder and longtime investor Ron Conway, Y Combinator partner and former Googler Paul Buchheit, Zynga CEO Mark Pincus, WordPress founder Matt Mullenweg, and others.
TechCrunch TV had the opportunity to talk with Villareal a bit about the technical aspect of The Bay Lights at a press event this afternoon, so more coverage on that will come tomorrow morning. For now, you can check out the live stream of The Bay Lights grand lighting event in the embed above — the event will begin officially at 8:30pm PT and the piece will switch on at 9:00pm PT.
And below is video from Xconomy of Villareal working on the Bay Lights and testing the project earlier this year: