Light travels on a busy motorway
Thanks to light artist Peter Freeman, commuters heading southwest along the UK’s M5 motorway are now welcomed by a 13 m (44 ft) beacon of vibrant color and light. Located at Junction 21, the mesmerizing, stainless steel structure comes to life in a variety of color changing light shows made possible by Color Kinetics’ intelligent LED technology.
Travelling Light was commissioned by Locking Castle Ltd. and completed in December 2004. According to Freeman, “Light and the changing seasons are a very important element of living in the southwest. With Travelling Light, I wanted to create a visual spectacle that would express an exuberance of color, reflect the passage of time, and lighten the journey of drivers heading into the region. This part of the M5 is also a main commuter route into Bristol, and I wanted to surprise and amuse drivers who use this stretch of road on their way to work.”
Freeman achieved his vision with iColor Flex SL, (now specified with Flex Compact gen3, RGB) which offers individually controlled tri-color LED nodes acting as pixels. As a whole, the sculpture incorporates 2,100 nodes, allowing for intricately designed lighting effects that correspond with days of the week and special occasions. For example, the sculpture becomes a river of pink hearts on Valentine’s Day, and a parade of space invaders on Halloween. Cosmic color patterns are displayed for summer and winter solstices, and flames climb the sculpture on bonfire night. Regular daily effects include gentle scrolls through the primary colors with added sparkle. The sculpture itself sits on a 15 m (49 ft) man-made mound, creating 28 m (93 ft) of total height and generating visibility from miles around.
The extraordinary installation is controlled by Light System Manager—Color Kinetics’ Ethernet-based software/hardware solution that facilitates the authoring, management and control of complex and large-scale light shows. Light System Manager provides a simple graphical user interface to minimize the time and guesswork involved in designing such elaborate effects—including the ability to easily discover and address the 2,100 nodes in the network. The system makes it easy for new shows to be programmed and played in conjunction with future events and holidays.
This colorfully inviting beacon gives commuters renewed enthusiasm for their daily trip to work.