Art installation sheds light on pandemic with Martin LED
Monday, 29 March 2021
illuminatepeople-of-colorThe Illuminate Cities Project is dedicated to improving cities through data exploration
USA - The Illuminate Cities Project recently incorporated Martin VC-Grid LED video tiles supplied by Hayden Production Services into an ‘information-as-art installation’ called Illuminate: COVID-19.
Co-founded by architect Domingo Abrusci and urban planner Alexandra Payne, the Illuminate Cities Project is dedicated to improving cities through data exploration, art, design and engagement. Its pilot project, Illuminate: COVID-19, is an art installation that combines data mapping and lighting design to visually display COVID-19 infection and death rates alongside racial and economic demographic data, highlighting how the pandemic has affected specific communities in New York City.
Brought to life in collaboration with fabrication and design specialist Robyn Squires of RYSQ LLC and lighting designer Elisa Forlini, a RIBA-certified architect, the installation is a large hanging lightbox which Abrusci designed as a map of New York City’s five boroughs. To illuminate the piece, the team required a highly adaptable lighting solution, and chose Martin VC-Grid LED video tiles and P3-PC control software to create an eye-catching design with a flexible, data-driven backend.
“My partner and I both live in Brooklyn, and our other collaborators live in Harlem and the Lower East Side,” said Payne. “All of the neighbourhoods that we were living in were highly impacted by COVID-19. When Domingo and I started talking about the project, he imagined having the entire city turn off their lights to symbolise how the life had gone out of the city. We eventually agreed to use light as a way of translating the maps we were seeing in the news that showed the neighbourhoods which were most affected.”
In order to create an effective installation that not only displayed data in an easily relatable format but also had strong aesthetic appeal to draw attention on the street, Illuminate: COVID-19 required a bright, colourful and versatile lighting solution. With guidance from Forlini, the team selected Martin VC-Grid fixtures and P3-PC control software as the appropriate tools for the job, acquiring 24 fixtures through Martin distributor Hayden Production Services.
“At first, we were talking about using fibre optics, but we began running into this problem where we needed to be able to light up very different areas sometimes, or data that's in very different geographic subsets, so we needed something that was super flexible on the backend,” added Payne. “Elisa, who we brought in because of her expertise as a lighting specialist, sent us a list of companies, and I just started calling people. We had developed a brief about what we needed the tools to do, and I got Ken Romaine from Martin on the line and said, ‘I'm not a lighting person. I don't know anything about the backend of this. Can you walk me through how these tools work, what they do and what the cost is?’ And he was super helpful.”
With an output of up to 12,000 lumens per square meter and 16-bit per colour image processing, the VC-Grid tiles make the map stand out on the crowded New York City streets with vivid colours and sharp contrast. A combined single-cable power and data input and throughput system makes it easy to connect large daisy-chained arrays to the P3 PowerPort 1500 unit, providing a streamlined solution for power and data delivery.
Martin P3-PC control software allowed Illuminate Cities to easily map a sequence of custom images onto the map of New York City, despite the asymmetrical configuration and orientation of the VC-Grid tiles required to fit the irregular shape of the piece. The free P3-PC software provided all the power and flexibility of the Martin P3 creative video and lighting platform in a convenient laptop-based solution, allowing the team to accurately map data with ease.
Illuminate: COVID-19 debuted on 16 December, 2020, hanging in the front window of The Canvas at 250 Bowery in Manhattan until 28 February 2021. The piece is now installed at the New York State Assembly District 74 offices at 107 Avenue B, where it will hang until 12 April.

Latest Issue. . .

Tweets from our Friends