In October and November 2016, nightly from 6pm – 10pm, Breathing Lights illuminated the windows of hundreds of vacant buildings in Albany, Schenectady and Troy. Warm light filled each window with a diffuse glow that mimicked the gentle rhythm of human breathing. Concentrated in neighborhoods with high levels of vacancy, Breathing Lights transformed abandoned structures from pockets of shadows into places of warmth. Breathing Lights was a winner of the Bloomberg Philanthropies Public Art Challenge which engages mayors to collaborate with artists on developing innovative public art projects that enrich communities and attract visitors.
This unprecedented, multi-city installation transformed public streets into an evocative experience and provided a platform to reinvigorate partners around the Capital Region’s most visible symptom of decades of disinvestment. Working with dozens of community and private-sector partners, Breathing Lights included eight months of programming and events, including youth media projects, building reclamation clinics, community arts presentations, gallery talks, policy discussions and more. At the end of the installation, windows – one by one – fell dark. In sharing a sense of loss came a stir to action.