You might say that artist Bill Bell has tunnel vision. Or more specifically, he’s given riders on the Seattle Light Rail system visions of art in the tunnel.
Bell used Echelon devices to control his “Lightsticks” LED artwork that’s located in the two mile-long tunnels through Beacon Hill. Embedded in the tunnel walls like glowing neon icicles, Bell’s “Lightsticks” let train riders see images – of playing cards, naval signal flags, insects and other underground dwellers – flash on the tunnel walls as the trains fly by.
After consulting with Echelon on the right products to use, Bell designed LED devices spread out over 2000 feet in the inaccessible tunnel interiors. The challenge was that the only way to coordinate and monitor the 22 LED devices was with power line communication. Seattle Light Rail has strict security for the tunnels and reliability was needed in place of regular maintenance.
Bell used Echelon’s i.LON SmartServer 2.0 as the head-end controller to monitor and control all his end light-point devices. He also used the Echelon PL3150 Evaluation Boards as power line “modems” and connected the host processor of his device to the PL3150 on the Evaluation Board through a serial connection.
“Normally, art doesn’t require device-level networking,” said Mark Carter, Echelon’s director of sales. “So it was a unique sale. And, the bonus is that Seattle rail passengers get to enjoy this as they travel on the train every day to and from work.”
Bell’s Subliminary Artworks appear in permanent public art displays. Marrying art with science, these works have appealed to a variety of organizations, including the Los Angeles Metro Gateway, The Exploratorium San Francisco, Roxbury Latin School’s Bauer Science Center, SONY Mediage Expo Tokyo, and Boston University’s Photonics Center. Seattle boasts an earlier Bell artwork in the Metro Station at University Street, and his “tech art” is part of private collections from Hong Kong to Beverly Hills.
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