Enormous art installation in Boston uses a Raspberry Pi to control a block of blinkies

In Boston’s Rose Kennedy Greenway, twenty-four sentinels have appeared in a 2001-kind of way. They are called Light Blades and overlook the parks of the Wharf District. The lights inside the blades react to text messages sent to a specific number and it’s apparently quite a sight – a space the size of a city block changing colour to your request. This is a public art installation called Color Commons and it is the brainchild of New American Public Art (NAPA), a collection of six artists.

The system works by using an SMS server which communicates to a Raspberry Pi at the park. The Pi matches the name of the colour to a list of 950 known colours and then sends commands to the Light Blades. The reaction time of the system is roughly two seconds, which is impressive considering the round-trip the messages make.

Dan Sternof Beyer, one of the creative directors of NAPA said this of the project:

“The art side of it is really thinking about the sociology of the public and thinking about what draws people in, what makes them curious, and what brings out curiosity,”

Read more about the project heresee the code for the project here and see a video of it in action below:

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