Lightbulb Clouds Illuminate Chicago Bar [Pics]

Lightbulb Clouds Illuminate Chicago Bar [Pics]

Progress Bar's CLOUD CEILING is a permanent interactive installation made up of 15,000 re-appropriated light bulbs and motion sensors.

Daniela Walker
  • 2 july 2013

Artists Caitlind r.c. Brown and Wayne Garrett’s CLOUD, an incandescent installation made up of 6,000 light bulbs, originally had a short-lived life – it was only on display for six hours at the Nuit Blanche Calgary gallery before being torn down. But Brown and Garrett were able to give their work a permanent home with a commission by Progress Bar in Chicago, to create a whole ceiling based on their CLOUD work. The CLOUD CEILING is over twice the size of the original, requiring 15,000 lights to create the interactive facade, a sea of bulbs that appear to be a lightning-filled cloud.


Besides the thousands of reappropriated incandescent light bulbs, the ceiling is made out of hand-bent steel, reflective mylar, electronics, motion sensors, and LEDs. While the original work had pull-strings for people to turn bulbs off and on, mimicking the flash of lightning, the artists had to think of another way to create the effect to suit a crowded bar of inebriated folk.


Motion sensors were installed as an alternative, so when people walk beneath the cloud they trigger the sensors and cause the bulbs to illuminate in a path of lightning. Explains the artists:

As bar patrons pass beneath the installation, they trip motion sensors within the CLOUD, creating “lightning” beneath the cumulous surface of light bulbs, mapping their progress through the space and the social “electricity” between people.

The bar gives a suitable permanent home to an installation that deserved to be on view for longer than a day.





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