The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust has unveiled its latest bit of public art and this one counts on your help, or at least your cell phone’s help. The work titled “Cell Phone Disco” uses the electromagnetic waves created by an active cell phone to change the work.
The 16-foot high instillation includes 16 antennas that pick up the electromagnetic waves and then send the information to 2,304 individually controlled red LED lights. Cultural Trust Spokesperson Veronica Corpuz says, “What was once invisible is now detectable through the visual senses.”
The work hangs in the alley behind the Benedum Center know as Tito Way (Also Known as 8th Street) and it faces the long narrow ally that runs through much of the Cultural District know as Exchange Way. Corpuz says many people use the alley as a cut through from Penn Ave to Liberty Ave.
The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust commissioned the Netherlands-based artist collective, Informationlab, to create Cell Phone Disco. Similar pieces have been hung in galleries but the artists says they are excited to have their effort placed in a public place where passersby will be able to see the ever-changing lightshow. Funding for the permanent instillation came from the Fine Foundation.
“The notion of ‘Lighting’ the Cultural District is in our current five-year strategic plan and also our upcoming three-year plan," says Murray Horne, curator of the Trust’s Wood Street Galleries. “Cell Phone Disco will serve as an anchor for other potential installations that will illuminate the pedestrian pathways throughout the District.”
In a written statement about the work, the artists say, “We have enveloped the display in a two-way mirror, so when there is cell phone activity in the vicinity the light cloud appears on the top of the reflected image of the alley. In this sense the installation is a fusion of the invisible digital reality represented by LEDs and the analog world as it appears in the mirror.” Corpuz says she thinks it is best viewed at dusk.