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two men standing on a city street

WHAT WAS YOUR INITIAL INSPIRATION FOR THE WABASH LIGHTS ART INSTALLATION?

We took a ton of inspiration from symbols that are used to represent entire cities. For example, the fleur de lis for New Orleans. We wanted to understand what people thought those symbols were for Chicago and we kept hearing, the “L” over and over. From there, we wanted to understand how we might transform an iconic piece of infrastructure into a platform for expression; something that everyone who lives in or visits Chicago could feel like they had a hand in creating.

HOW DID YOU TWO MEET?

We met right after graduating from college (Seth from DePaul, Jack from Columbia) taking classes at The Second City.

IN YOUR OPINION, WHAT IS THE VALUE OF PUBLIC ART?

Public art has many different types of value-- and that value can be different from person to person. Its value can be historical, emotional, symbolic, representative, fun, whimsical, somber… We both enjoy art that is expressionistic and open to interpretation and would like to see more public art that checks those boxes.

WHAT ROLE DOES TECHNOLOGY PLAY IN THE WABASH LIGHTS INSTALLATION?

Technology plays a huge role in our project. In fact, the project wouldn't exist without it. The layer of technology we have implemented, allowing for control of the lights via texting and through mobile apps over the internet, has been the foundation for what we believe will be the first-ever open-source piece of public at in the world. Our plan is to eventually roll out an API that would allow anyone in the world to develop for the platform.

HOW DO YOU FORESEE FUTURE GENERATIONS INTERACTING WITH THE WABASH LIGHTS AND WHAT HOPES DO YOU HAVE FOR THE PROJECT IN THE FUTURE?

We tend to think 5-10 years into the future… we can only hope, at this point, that once the project is installed that it might remain up in perpetuity. We’ve designed the project infrastructure to allow for iteration (see above answer) so our dream would be for it to be in a continual state of transformation. Hopefully in 40 years, it will continue to surprise and delight and Chicago will be a safer, more beautiful and dynamic place because The Wabash Lights still exist.

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WEB | THEWABASHLIGHTS.COM
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two men in black shirts standing next to some plants
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WE WANTED TO UNDERSTAND HOW WE MIGHT TRANSFORM AN ICONIC PIECE OF INFRASTRUCTURE INTO A PLATFORM FOR EXPRESSION.

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WE BOTH ENJOY ART THAT IS EXPRESSIONISTIC AND OPEN TO INTERPRETATION AND WOULD LIKE TO SEE MORE PUBLIC ART THAT CHECKS THOSE BOXES.

two men standing in front of a door holding a wii remote
two men walking down the street in a city
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THE LAYER OF TECHNOLOGY WE HAVE IMPLEMENTED, ALLOWING FOR CONTROL OF THE LIGHTS VIA TEXTING AND THROUGH MOBILE APPS OVER THE INTERNET, HAS BEEN THE FOUNDATION FOR WHAT WE BELIEVE WILL BE THE FIRST EVER OPEN-SOURCE PIECE OF PUBLIC AT IN THE WORLD.

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HOPEFULLY IN 40 YEARS, IT WILL CONTINUE TO SURPRISE AND DELIGHT AND CHICAGO WILL BE A SAFER, MORE BEAUTIFUL AND DYNAMIC PLACE BECAUSE THE WABASH LIGHTS STILL EXIST.

two men standing next to each other on the stairs