Tidal Song

Submitted by Catherine Widgery

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Client: City of New Rochelle

Location: New Rochelle, NY, United States

Completion date: 2009

Artwork budget: $280,000

Project Team

Artist

Catherine Widgery

Industry Resource

Roger Smith Lighting

Company Roger Smith Lighting Design

Industry Resource

Peter Kaufman

Industry Resource

Denis

Atelier St. Marc

Overview

New Rochelle, NY. Mouth blown stained glass and etched float glass, sensors, speakers, programmable LED lighting.120 x 12 x 14'. In this work pulses of light and color sweep across the bridge and curl up to the Trump Tower while underwater sounds respond to the movement of the pedestrians within. From the outside, a bold gesture of light and color constantly evolves into something new. Inside, it is an immersive sound and light experience. Tidal Song links New Rochelle’s traditional connection to coastal waters with dynamic energies of ‘now’. Nature’s forms are woven in a language of technology.

Goals

New Rochelle wanted a gateway work as the main artery entering town passes beneath this bridge. It needed to be beautiful both day and night and I wanted the interior to be an immersive and interactive experience.

During the day, direct and indirect light makes the stained glass luminous, projecting the blues and greens across the floor. The visitor stands within waves of muted ripples of light. From the street, the sky backlights the brilliant layers of color.

The visitors 'play the instrument' of this space, entering the bridge and triggering waves of light, color and sound. Hidden motion sensors in the ceiling set off unexpected sounds and shifting light patterns at different points from side to side and along the length of the bridge. From below, footbridge pedestrians are seen triggering light movement within the bridge. Energy flows as the light and sound ripple through the luminous volume.

At night, the whole volume of the bridge becomes a light box with a colored glass skin.The etched designs on each 6” square pixel are inspired by fractals where even the smallest part reflects the structure of the whole. The antique glass has water-like internal textures that cast beautiful shadows.

Process

Tidal Song is the fruit of intensive creative collaboration. Widgery worked in Germany with the Peters Studio to select the mouth blown subtle glass colors and textures and with Atelier St. Marc in Montreal on the sandblasted textures on the clear float glass. Lighting designer and engineer Roger Smith designed and programmed the lighting in coordination with Aaron Cuthbertson the sound designer to achieve interactivity of the sound and light. Sanjeev Shankar was researcher and technical assistant during the proposal phase of the project. JMC Partners were the art consultants on the joint venture between Capelli Enterprises and the Town of New Rochelle.

Additional Information

While working on the project, I overheard a son ask his father what the sounds were as they walked through the bridge. He replied “Those are whales making love.” It is wonderful how people create their own stories inside a magical space.