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A site-specific light installation created by the public on the Wabash stretch of elevated train tracks (L) in Chicago’s loop.
A site-specific light installation created by the public on the Wabash stretch of elevated train tracks (L) in Chicago’s loop.
A site-specific light installation created by the public on the Wabash stretch of elevated train tracks (L) in Chicago’s loop.
918 backers pledged $59,480 to help bring this project to life.

About this project

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The Wabash Lights - The Beta Test

$59,480

918

Can a piece of Chicago's infrastructure be the epicenter of a public art revolution? Yes, and you can be a part of it!

The Wabash Lights is a site-specific light installation on the underside of the Wabash Avenue elevated train tracks in Chicago’s loop. This proposed work of public art will incorporate over 5,000 programmable LED light tubes to transform an iconic piece of Chicago infrastructure into a canvas for a dynamic, interactive experience, serving as a catalyst for a re-energized Wabash Avenue. 

A rendering of The Wabash Lights
A rendering of The Wabash Lights

The Wabash Lights are where we are heading, but right now we are doing this kickstarter for a small test of the lights. This kickstarter is for the Beta Test.

- Chicagoist: The Wabash Lights: A Conversation With The Designers

- WGN Radio - Bill & Wendy Show

- Core77 - In the Details: Lighting the Way

- Redesign Report - Designer Duo Aims to Revitalize Loop with Public Art

- Art Report - Bringing The Warehouse Vibes Out To The Streets Of Chicago

- Gaper's Block - Kickstarter Campaign for Public Art Installation

- The Reader - Two Chicagoans hope to light up the Wabash el tracks

- Time Out Chicago - Kickstarter aims to light up Wabash

- Curbed Chicago - Five Questions w/ Seth and Jack

WGN Radio / Outside the Loop - Radio story

Loop News North - Wabash Lights project to raise money for first 48 feet

Curbed Chicago - Wabash Lights Kickstarter Raising Funds for Beta Test

Chicago Tribune - Wabash Lights Designers Launch Kickstarter Campaign

ChiagoInno - Kick Wants to Put a Light Show Underneath Chicago's L

Chicago Biz Journal - Wabash Lights project appealing to Kickstarter masses for funding

Chicago Architecture Blog - Want a Better Wabash?

Working with the Chicago Transit Authority, Chicago Department of Transportation, and City Government, we have received approval to install a small section of lights on the Wabash Ave tracks to troubleshoot design, interactivity, and test how vibration from the "L", temperature changes, and the wear and tear of the city affect our hardware. 

We are calling this phase the Beta Test. Your donations will help fund this initial round of testing.

Once the Beta Test has been installed, we will begin a capital fundraising campaign with a goal of $5,000,000 in private, foundation, and corporate dollars.

Your support of the Beta Test proves to the city of Chicago (and our future donors) that the public wants The Wabash Lights.

We are Kickstarting this project because it's important to us that The Wabash Lights be seeded by the public. Public art is often created by one, paid for by few, but meant for everyone. We want to reverse that notion and bring the voice of the public into our project as donors and also designers.

The light fixtures we’re using are easily programmable and infinitely customizable with each light tube controllable down to every 1.2 inches. People like to you will be able to program different sections of The Wabash Lights via a user-friendly website or mobile app. The result will be a transformation of public infrastructure into a canvas of light for any person, anywhere, to use as a vehicle for expression.

Anyone with access to a computer or smart phone will be able to design how The Wabash Lights illuminate, whether they are a student, a senior citizen, or a renowned artist – this work of art will be the first to be created and continually re-designed by the public.

Choose your own adventure
Choose your own adventure
The lights do what you tell them to do
The lights do what you tell them to do

Some rewards are intangible like our love for you, or the feeling of freedom after escaping from prison (so we've been told). Some are tangible - like these: 

THE DESIGN CHARETTE:

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THE ARTIST'S DINNER @ 42 GRAMS:

What better place to stage a massive public art project than on a train line that thousands of people use every day?

For most people visiting or living in Chicago, Wabash Avenue in the Loop is a dark, noisy, sometimes scary place to either avoid or walk quickly through. Positioned between the history of State Street and the futuristic playground of Millennium Park, Wabash Avenue is an underutilized resource in the city for art, culture, and business.

The Wabash Lights will bring life and awareness to the largely neglected strip of Wabash Avenue. Creating this new destination in the heart of the Loop will  increase tourism and encourage the growth of local business.

The elevated train tracks are a unique part of Chicago that we aim to highlight and celebrate. This public display will inspire the residents of Chicago, boost civic pride and foster a safe, well lit gathering point in the downtown area.

+ Revitalize a historic Chicago district
+ Highlight the unique and authentic character of Chicago
+ Beautify the "L"
+ Create a new destination in the Chicago Loop
+ Broaden the profile of annual visitors to Chicago
+ Boost tourism+ attract new and retain existing businesses
+ Celebrate infrastructure
+ Promote Chicago as a global destination
+ Boost civic pride
+ Re-define public art
+ Foster a safe, well lit downtown

Artist rendering of good-time-havin'
Artist rendering of good-time-havin'

Risks and challenges

The whole point of this Beta Test of The Wabash Lights is to troubleshoot the challenges before we go all out for the full installation.

Some of the specific challenges we will be addressing in this test are:

1. How the vibrations of the "L" tracks will effect the lights and power of The Wabash Lights: These LED lights have already been installed on bridges, buildings, and interiors. In addition to aesthetic reasons for choosing these lights, we have opted for them because they are robust fixtures that can withstand a beating.

2. How will the lights handle Chicago weather: The Beta Test will have the lights up for the end of Winter and Spring to see how they handle the changing of the seasons: from brutally cold to wet and warm.

3. How will the lights interact with traffic: Wabash Ave is a public way and we are incredibly sensitive to that fact. These lights are infinitely programmable, so part of this will be to safely test lighting designs that do not affect drivers or pedestrians.

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Questions about this project? Check out the FAQ

Support this project

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $1 or more About $1.00

    A big, warm thank you from the bottom of our hearts - good vibes sent out into the ethersphere.

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    Pledge $5 or more About $5

    Your name added to the website in a modest 10-point font, plus the above.

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    Pledge $20 or more About $20

    A Facebook / Twitter shout out - We will tell the world what you already know: that you are a supporter of public art! Exclusive, backer-only updates, and everything above.

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  4. Select this reward

    Pledge $25 or more About $25

    NEW: Invitation to a Wabash Lights Design Charette - join Seth, Jack and The Wabash lights team in a behind the scenes look! You'll get your hands on the lights, play with the design, and workshop ideas for the website and app, plus everything above.

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    Pledge $35 or more About $35

    NEW: The Wabash Lights T-Shirt. Just the Tee! For those of you who don't care about shout-outs, thank-yous, charettes, buttons or stickers!

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  6. Select this reward

    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    Your name added to The Wabash Lights website as one of the proud supporters of The Wabash Lights Beta Test in glorious 14-point font. Plus, a sticker, a button, and everything above.

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  7. Select this reward

    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    The Wabash Lights Party Pack that includes, but not limited to, peelable stickers and a button. Plus, everything above.

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    23 backers
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  8. Select this reward

    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    NEW: The Wabash Lights T-shirt - An artist's rendering of The Wabash Lights on an American Apparel T-shirt, hand screen-printed by Jack, Seth, and Scott at Teetsy right here in Chicago. Plus, everything above.

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    Pledge $125 or more About $125

    NEW: Exclusive Coffee Date - We love coffee and usually grab a cup while talking about the lights. We will buy you a cup of coffee at one of the coffee shops on Wabash (or nearby) and then lead you on a walking tour of Wabash and to the installation site of The Wabash Lights. Plus, everything above.

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  10. Select this reward

    Pledge $200 or more About $200

    The Wabash Lights T-shirt and the Party Pack, Facebook and website props in stupendous 20-point font, and everything above.

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    13 backers
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  11. Select this reward

    Pledge $250 or more About $250

    NEW: Cocktails on Wabash - You and a friend are invited to a cocktail party hosted by Jack and Seth to sip drinks under the tracks and mingle with other art-friendly, design-minded folk on Wabash! Plus, everything above.

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  12. Select this reward

    Pledge $300 or more About $300

    A hand numbered, archival print of original Wabash Lights artwork, the T-shirt, party pack, and everything else.

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  13. Select this reward

    Pledge $750 or more About $750

    Join us when we flip the switch! Invitation to the "Turn on Wabash" lighting ceremony of The Wabash Lights, and everything above.

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    Pledge $1,500 or more About $1,500

    NEW: Put your Designer Cap on - Your design of The Wabash Lights will be the first one to go live at the "Turn on Wabash" lighting ceremony, where you will be a VIP. This event is not open to the public, so you'll be the first one to see it! Plus, everything above.

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  15. Select this reward

    Pledge $5,000 or more About $5,000

    NEW: Artist's Dinner - Talk about works of art, while eating works of art! Dinner (we're buying) at 2 Michelin starred restaurant, 42 grams, with Jack, Seth, and one of your closest friends. Engage with the designers about The Wabash Lights and with Chef Jake Bickelhaupt on his culinary creations in this highly interactive, one-of-a-kind dining experience, plus everything above. (If you have questions about the cuisine, message us)

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    Pledge $10,000 About $10,000

    NEW: Your name in The Wabash Lights - Your name will be the first thing people see when they launch the website or app. At the "Turn on Wabash" lighting ceremony, your name will appear in the lights as a thank you, and of course, everything above.

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Funding period

- (32 days)