Sandy Rainbow: Lighting up New York's Sky with Hope and Solidarity

This week, New York's horizon was altered during two light art installations, projecting rays of hope on the city's skyline.

This week, New York's horizon came alive with two light art installations, projecting rays of hope on the city's skyline.

On Monday, the Empire State Building debuted it's first ever "light show," sponsored by Philips Color Kinetics and Clear Channel. Alicia Keys, whose songs Girl is on Fire and Empire State of Mind, served as the soundtrack to the innovative installation, flipped the switch and set midtown aglow. Monday's Empire State "performance" was the first time the building's lights became truly dynamic, after a brief trial during the election on November 6. When a state's electoral votes were in Romney's favor, the building was turned red, and when they favored Obama, it changed to blue.

The state-of-the-art dynamic lighting system from PCK is unique to ESB and allows customized light capabilities from a palette of over 16 million colors in limitless combinations along with effects previously not possible such as ripples, cross-fades, sparkles, chasers, sweeps, strobes and bursts. In addition to greater control and management of the lighting, the new computerized system will deliver superior light and vibrancy levels in real-time, unlike the previous floodlights.


Philips' press release explained the technology.


This set the stage for New York's second—unrelated—illuminated show of the week, Global Rainbow, After the Storm, which took over the city's skyline last night, through Thursday, Novemeber 29. The brainchild of artist Yvette Mattern and put on by Art Production Fund and The Standard hotel, it's a beaming rainbow laser, visible nearly 35 miles in the night sky. Though widely visible, the beams use minimal power, about the equivalent of two hairdryers running from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. when the rainbow can be spotted.

A response to the devastation New Yorkers have faced as a result of Hurricane Sandy, Global Rainbow, After the Storm, is a reminder that communities are still suffering, and a call to action for citizens to get involved in the rebuilding and relief efforts. Mattern, who splits her time between New York and Berlin explained her vision for the project, “I hope that seeing this beacon in the night sky will provide people with a sense of peace and security in this time of crisis and that it will unify us with its presence so we remember that we are all in this together, regardless of divisions of class, race, religion and culture.”

The rainbow aims to raise money for Waves for Water, a non-profit working on rebuilding Staten Island, New Jersey, Rockaway Beach and Long Beach; and New York Foundation for the Arts, assisting artists suffering damage and loss after Sandy.

Photos courtesy of Art Production Fund by James Ewing