Q: What is Breathing Lights?
A: Breathing Lights is a temporary public art installation scheduled for October and November 2016 that will illuminate the windows of hundreds of vacant homes in the cities of Albany, Schenectady and Troy with a diffuse glow that mimics the rhythm of human breathing. Buildings will be lit nightly between 6 and 10pm.
The installation is supported by eight months of programming and events centered at three neighborhood hubs, one in each city – Albany Barn, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Schenectady, and The Sanctuary for Independent Media in Troy. Programming and events are designed to give voice to children and adults living in communities with high rates of vacancy and offer resources for local residents to buy and renovate vacant homes. Through youth media projects, building reclamation clinics, community arts presentations, gallery talks, policy discussions and more, Breathing Lights’ goal is to create an evocative, inclusive experience that transforms perceptions of vacant buildings and showcases an arts-based approach to stimulating local and regional revitalization.
Q: When and where can I see Breathing Lights?
A: Buildings will be lit nightly from 6 to 10pm in October and November 2016. You are encouraged to visit a host of scheduled events which will include a walking tour led by neighborhood ambassadors. If you are unable to come to a scheduled event, you are welcome to tour the installation on foot, bike or by car, but we ask that you please be respectful of local residents and pedestrians and obey all parking regulations and traffic laws. And as with all public places please pay attention to your surroundings when on the grounds unaccompanied.
Visit our LOCATIONS page and EVENTS page for details.
Q: How are the buildings lit?
A: The technology behind Breathing Lights is simple. Off-the-shelf LED light strips, chosen for color value and intensity, and their breathing “rate” are controlled by a simple Arduino board. The lights are diffused by two sheets of plastic inside a wooden frame affixed to each window.
Q: Who organized Breathing Lights?
A: Breathing Lights has been produced through a collaboration of public and private partners. Project leadership includes Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan, Schenectady Mayor Gary McCarthy, and Troy Mayor Patrick Madden. The Community Foundation for the Greater Capital Region serves as the project’s fiscal agent and lead administrator. The Albany County Land Bank, the Capital Region Land Bank, and the Troy Community Land Bank provided access to vacant buildings.
Albany Barn, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Schenectady, and the Sanctuary for Independent Media in Troy were selected as neighborhood hubs because of their track records of successful programming and their locations in communities with high levels of vacancy. Lighting R&D was conducted by the Lighting Research Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Siting and installation was led by TAP, Inc. A project documentary is being produced by WMHT.
Visit WHO WE ARE for information about the individuals behind Breathing Lights.
Q: How did you decide which buildings to light?
A: The majority of the vacant buildings we chose to light are currently owned by cities, counties or land banks. We worked closely with each city and land bank to understand and map their inventory and to choose buildings. The buildings we lit represent less than 10% of the vacant buildings throughout the region.
Q: Who is funding this project?
A: Breathing Lights is supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies through its Public Art Challenge initiative. Lead local funding is provided by GE, KeyBank, MVP Health Care, Neil & Jane Golub, Karen & Chet Opalka, the Bender Family Foundation, the Bender Scientific Fund, the Schenectady Foundation, and the Standish Family Fund. Visit SPONSORS for full list of local supporters.
About Bloomberg Philanthropies Public Art Challenge: In October 2014, Bloomberg Philanthropies invited U.S. mayors of cities with 30,000 residents or more to collaborate with artists and arts organizations on developing innovative public art projects that engage residents and attract visitors. After receiving 237 applications that covered a wide range of local and civic issues, Bloomberg Philanthropies selected four winning projects as part of its Public Art Challenge – a new program designed to support temporary public art projects that celebrate creativity, enhance urban identity, encourage public-private partnerships, and drive economic development.
In June 2015 Bloomberg Philanthropies announced the winning projects:
Each project aims to address a local civic issue, such as vacant housing, neighborhood revitalization, water conservation, or crime prevention. Grantees will develop and execute their projects over 24 months. The Public Art Challenge grant will cover development, execution, and project-related expenditures but will not fund 100% of project costs. The grant is intended to provide catalytic funds as part of a strong, committed consortium of supporters, both public and private. More information on the Public Art Challenge and the winning ideas can be found at: http://publicartchallenge.bloomberg.org/.