For two months, Breathing Lights will illuminate the street-facing windows of hundreds of abandoned buildings in Albany, Schenectady and Troy, NY. Warm light will fill each window with a diffuse glow that pulses with the gentle rhythm of human breathing. Concentrated in high vacancy, economically disadvantaged neighborhoods, these installations will transform vacant structures from pockets of shadows into places of warmth.
A dark corner amid boarded windows radiates with soft light. Passersby who might catch their breath in tension instead exhale deeply under the aurora and meditative cadence. Turn the corner and down the street – a hundred more illuminated houses. This massive, multi-city installation will transform public streets into an evocative art experience.
Led by artist Adam Frelin and architect Barbara Nelson, Breathing Lights brings together local fabricators, students, engineers, artists and product developers to design and install custom lighting instruments. Illumination kits will consist of miniature LED strip lights bound in adhesive fabric, affixed to interior window frames. The lights will shine through windows covered in diffusion material, powered and controlled by batteries and rheostats. In a region that pioneered electric light, deploying new lighting technology infuses our project with history and place.
How can public art impact vacancy? By offering a novel approach that reinvigorates stakeholders around the Capital Region’s most visible symptom of decades of disinvestment. Breathing Lights draws attention through its unprecedented scale. It culminates in a finale event, nurtured by yearlong programming, digital content and resources, strategic marketing and advocacy.
At the end of the installation, windows – one by one – fall dark. In sharing a sense of loss comes a stir to action.