As an inaugural project of the Heat, Light and Water Cultural Project, Gary Lights Open Works begins by engaging Gary residents in the process of designing custom streetlights while modeling new possibilities for the intersection of art and city infrastructure. Throughout 2017 and 2018, artists David Rueter and Marissa Lee Benedict developed and installed a series of 10 lighting installations in public parks across the city of Gary, Indiana. The “streetlight” installations, in conjunction with a series of public workshops for youth, adults, and seniors, comprise the artist’s collaborative research initiative Gary Lights Open Works (funded in 2016-17 by the National Endowment for the Arts and The Legacy Foundation).
The installations and workshops question the idea of the “standard” streetlight by developing alternative visions, such as lights that can produce any visible color, blink and fade, react to speech and music, or communicate with other lights. Through these experiments, the project aims to uncover, shatter, and reconfigure the settled politics embedded in infrastructural space, sparking the imagination of new potentials for artistic agency through the playful and participatory reconfiguration of civic technology.
Throughout the process, the following questions emerged:
Gary Lights Open Works is made possible through the partnership and support of The City of Gary Department of Public Parks, The Knight Donor Donor Advised Fund at The Legacy Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts “Art Works” program.