Coney Island Parachute Jump Illumination, 2006

Leni Schwendinger

Location: New York, New York
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Leni Schwendinger understands the special characteristics of light that enable it to change a mood, invigorate public spaces, sculpt the perception of dimensions, and connect people to each other and to their surroundings. For more than a decade, Schwendinger’s firm, Light Projects, Ltd., has attracted many multidisciplinary collaborations and clients. She brings together project-specific teams staffed by architects, graphic designers, engineers, who employ the latest technologies to create uniquely beautiful instillations. In Chroma Streams: Tide and Traffic, a dynamic lighting system on the underside of the busy Kingston Bridge in Glasgow, Scotland, sensors tracking traffic congestion feed data into a computer program that in turn activate swathes of light on the bridge: yellow indicates a smooth flow, while red indicates a traffic jam. At the same time, green and blue hues are synchronized with the tide cycles of the Clyde River below. Both systems run concurrently, with the colors reflecting in the water offering a double-sided wash of colored light.

Schwendinger’s clients have included performing-arts centers, event planners, architecture firms, museums, and state and municipal agencies. For the Marion Oliver McCaw Hall in Seattle, Light Projects projected a program of colored light onto nine metal scrims, thirty feet tall and sixty feet long, arching across the Hall’s entry promenade. Schwendinger adapted musical scoring techniques to sequence the complex changes in colored lights. The resulting spatial and temporal light installation evokes a synesthesia-like metaphor.

In 2005, Light Projects designed the illumination for the Fashion in Colors exhibition at Cooper-Hewitt. Working with Tsang Seymour Design, the exhibition’s designers, Schwendinger and her team conceptualized and designed specific room installations of glowing ambient light—black, multicolor, blue, red, yellow, and white—surrounding groupings of matching fashion from the eighteenth through the twenty-first centuries. The results allowed visitors to experience the materiality of color and articulated color’s emotional, cultural, and psychological associations.