Light art installation

Enlightened data

How the "Turning Sky" light art installation in Chicago/US visualises abstract data.

The work is part of a disused train line running through Chicago’s west side that was reinterpreted back in 2015 as an elevated trail for use by the public for walking or jogging. The trail is known as the 606 and was conceived as a living work of art, integrating temporary and permanent installations along the route. "Turning Sky" is a lighting station located on a bridge at an intersection on the 606 and visualises the ephemeral conditions in the city. The local weather and atmospheric conditions serve as the source of information, to which the installation continuously responds. The LED light nodes trace the suspension cables on the bridge and transmit the data collected in real time using colour-changing light. The inaugural display reflected wind patterns and speed, but there are plans to visualise real time air quality for local residents. Through the light, "Turning Sky" lends the public trail an attractive atmosphere and a dynamic quality.

What is special about this project is that it uses data from The Array of Things, an urban sensing project in Chicago based on a partnership between the City of Chicago, the University of Chicago and Argonne National Laboratory, who have placed data collection nodes throughout the city with the goal of better understanding and serving the city through the data collected. The data is free and open to the public, but it is only through the visualisation of the data through "Turning Sky" that the data become truly accessible to the public. Abstract data is transformed into light that people can see, feel and understand.

Client: The Trust for Public Land

Design: Luftwerk