San Francisco artist Therese Lahaie has a new work that will be visible from a wide swath of the city this weekend, and starting Thursday night, on the illuminated crown of Salesforce Tower.
It's called "Lightbirds," and Lahaie says that she was inspired to make the piece because of her love of seabirds, and the fact that Salesforce Tower stands amid the Pacific Flyway — the migratory path that seabirds use for their spring and fall migrations, north and south along the California coast.
"In addition to [being] compelling art installations the 'Lightbirds' are also a call to action for protecting seabird habitats and the impact of warming oceans on birds," Lahaie says on her website. "This series began to bring recognition to half a million Common Murres, diving sea birds that we have lost since 2015 due to warming oceans on the Northwest US & Canadian Coast."
Lahaie tells KPIX today that the form of the piece came about after observing the bird-like shapes that were cast by sunlight reflecting off optical mirrors on the floor in her studio. She was personally asked to create a piece for the tower by lead LED installation artist Jim Campbell. Campbell, 67, has been curating the projected moving images on the tower since it first lit up in 2018.
The tower's crown is covered in 11,000 RGBW LEDs that play video after sunset, 1,000 feet above downtown San Francisco, and Campbell has continued to vary the projections every few months, sometimes with guest artists. And in the last few years, there has been a "Midnight Artists Series" in which special projections from guest artists only appear for an hour, from midnight to 1 a.m., for a finite period of time. Artist Helene Park will be next up in the series, from June 1 to June 30.
"I don't think any of us cease to find solace when we watch birds soar," Lahaie told KPIX. "I hope that the beauty and the scale of the birds will help us to soar during what feels like unraveling times."
Lahaie's collaborator and video editor for the piece was Los Angeles-based cinematographer and editor Hahn Nguyen from Running Reel Films.
See a close-up of the installation in the video below, and you'll be able to see the "Lightbirds" on Salesforce Tower from 8 to 10 p.m. on Thursday, and from 8 to 11 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.
Also, there is an inaugural viewing party this evening at the corner of Howard Street and Embarcadero, and free viewing events at the Marriott Marquis View Lounge on Saturday and Sunday nights as well. You can register for those here, and reportedly there will be a special Lightbirds cocktail served as well.