The Bright Points Project
As a final assignment for Jill Nussbaum’s Design for Public Spaces course, we conceived of the Bright Points Project as a way for New Yorkers to experience something they don’t see too often—the sunset. I designed and presented the Bright Points Project along with Angela Huang, Chia-wei Liu, and Gene Lu.
Situated along a stretch of abandoned elevated railway, the High Line is a public park on Manhattan’s west side. The elevated perspective lets visitors see the goings-on of the street in a whole new way. The west side location provides views of the Hudson River and the New Jersey skyline.
The Bright Points Project is our idea of what a summer program at the High Line could be. The High Line would open after hours for a limited number of visitors just before sunset on Thursday nights (a big night for restaurant & art gallery openings in the nearby Chelsea neighborhood).
Each visitor would receive a High Line Lantern upon arrival. The Lantern would be carried along by the visitors as they traveled north along the park from Gansevoort Street to roughly 20th Street.
At the moment the sun sets below the Hudson, the Lanterns begin to illuminate, symbolizing a continuation of the sunset and a personal duty the visitor has in its maintenance. As Lanterns come close to one another, they grow in brightness, encouraging interactions between the program’s attendees. The High Line becomes transformed into a stream of pinpoints, each a visitor carrying on the light left behind by the setting sun.
Visitors travel northward along the park’s path until they reach the 17th street amphitheater. Here, the experience culminates at the Sunset Wall. A musician here sets the mood for visitors as they walk down the steps and place their Lantern on the wall. Lanterns flash brilliantly when placed here to denote the receivership of the evening’s light and the final stage in its lifecycle.
The entire class was given the prompt to “create a networked, mobile, or interactive installation that enhances or extends the experience of the High Line park.”
We began with visits to the park to familiarize ourselves with the environment and conduct man-on-the-street interviews. We asked visitors about the nature of their visit, their use of smartphones and other technology, and what they liked about the High Line experience. We also interviewed Blake DeBoer, an Associate with Taconic Builders and High Line & architectural enthusiast.
From there, we used a K-J analysis to get a better sense of where we felt we could intervene on people’s visits to the High Line. We focused on the journey a visitor has walking the High Line; the things they would experience on that journey; the features of the city and the surrounding landscape; and the actions people take at the park.
Once we decided on a concept, we began to construct a user journey. By using photograph illustrations of real people interacting with Bright Points lanterns–and shot on the High Line itself–a user journey would aid our audience in believing our story.
And just to make our presentation all the more believable, we created physical prototypes of the Bright Points Lanterns. Using an Arduino microcontroller, the Lanterns illuminate at sunset and respond to other Lanterns nearby.
The Bright Points Project was featured on Core 77.