A radio tower transformed with light
Artists Laura Garanzuay and Connie Arismendi achieved their aesthetic vision with the help of Color Kinetics LED lighting systems and Color Kinetics Applications Engineering (AE) resources.
Laura Garanzuay and Connie Arismendi won a statewide competition conducted by the Fort Worth Public Art program to create an art installation for a radio tower that carries public safety communications for the City of Fort Worth and other agencies. Their concept was to emulate the look of a 1930s RKO radio tower logo with rings of light symbolic of radio waves. They also wanted to find some way to tie their retro idea to the modern era.
The artists soon found that there were many technical, environmental, and physical limitations on their design. The sculpture would have to be placed at intervals so as not interfere with transmissions. The lighting system would have to withstand extremely harsh conditions—seventy-mile-per-hour winds, lightning strikes, half-inch radial hail, freezing rain, and temperature variations from 110 °F to freezing within the same day. The radio tower was designed to support the light sculpture, but to avoid possible maintenance issues, the lighting system could not make direct contact with the metal surface. A Teflon strip separates the metal structure from the lighting system creating an insulating barrier.
The Color Kinetics AE team recommended 31 strings of iColor Flex SLX (now specified with Flex Compact gen3, RGB) and a Light System Manager controller to create the symbolic radio waves. They worked closely with onsite engineers to ensure compliance with technical specifications and to solve technical challenges. For example, during the installation, one of the main challenges was the great distance between the product, the power supplies and the controller. Because of this distance, Ethernet cabling would not work and a solution needed to be found. The onsite AE recommended that fiber optic cabling be used instead ensuring no degradation in the signal and enabling it to go the longer distance.
An onsite AE programmed the lighting system to achieve lighting effects and animation sequences under direction from the artists. "The AE service contributions are what really brought this project to the modern era. It was a great collaboration and took the aesthetics to a new level, beyond our initial design." said Connie Arismendi.
In addition to all of the onsite work provided by Color Kinetics AE services, they also helped with many aspects leading up to the actual installation and programming of the project. This included providing the technical layouts, drawings and directions for the lighting portion of the project on behalf of the artists.
"We have used Color Kinetics on other projects and they consistently exceed our expectations. Their commitment to service helps us reach new levels in design and go beyond what we could do ourselves. We have confidence in Color Kinetics and in turn our clients have confidence in us. They are a true partner, committed to our success."