Close to midnight on June 9, up to 1,000 bicyclists will be outfitted with special LED lights that will create a synchronized spectacle across the Stone Arch Bridge in Minneapolis.
This experiment/public art display, which is part of the arts-geared Northern Spark Festival
that will go all night in Minneapolis and St. Paul, is called, “The Kuramoto Model (1000 Fireflies)
The artist/techie behind it, David Rueter, an MFA candidate in art and technology studies at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago
, explains that whenever the lights blink, they broadcast a radio signal. As the lights "hear" each other, they begin to blink in synchronized patterns. By themselves, they look like regular LED cycling safety lights, “but in groups, they exhibit an immediately noticeable and striking phenomenon,” a statement about the project reads. Reuter explains that the lights “can adjust or form a consensus” visually. “These lights are always listening.”
The project takes its name from Yoshiki Kuramoto
, who pioneered research along these lines, Rueter says. He hopes that the bike ride/public art display will reveal the connections between individuals “and what amounts to a system of urban cycling, and connections that exist, whether or not they’re intentional.” He’s interested in seeing how that “transforms the way people perceive cycling,” and how it “changes the flow of cyclists.” For starters, it “alters the social rules of proximity. Different ways that people form in groups will be unveiled. It’ll change the way people approach interacting on bikes,” he says.
Well after the festival, people may continue to use them, and have chance encounters with each other.
It’s encouraging having the support of those who contributed to his $1,000 Kickstarter
campaign, he says. “Everyone seems to latch onto the idea,” he adds. “Their imaginations run wild.”
Source: David Reuter, Kuramoto Model Project
Writer: Anna Pratt