Drive By, a custom 240-ft.-long by 6-ft.-high LED display, comments on Los Angeles’ driving culture as well as its love affair with the movies. A Percent for Art project commissioned by the Los Angeles Community Redevelopment Agency and completed in May 2007, it was intended as a landmark work to complement a nearby Metrorail stop.
Created by Electroland (Los Angeles), the display alternates between an alphanumeric/letter mode and a car-tracking mode. During periods of low traffic, the display spells out famous iconic lines from Hollywood movies, such as “Hasta la vista, baby!” or “There’s no place like home.” The second mode is triggered when traffic increases. Abstract white letterforms follow cars as they pass and display red “collisions” as cars pass each other.
The display consists of strings of color-changing LED lights arranged in brackets to form 35 5x7 alphanumeric matrices. A master computer analyzes video information from two rooftop-mounted video cameras to track the cars and control the light display modes. The default mode is the display of movie lines, each shown for 10 seconds. If three or more cars are detected in a four-second period, the phrase is replaced by the car-tracking mode, which features white numerical representations of the cars that “race” across the display, “following” the cars they correspond to as closely as possible. When the car number snippets overlap, they leave behind a red punctuation record of the overlap. If the street is empty for more than 12 seconds during car-tracking mode, the system transitions back to text display.
“Drive By is a perfect play on LA’s Hollywood and driving culture. Celebrating the kitsch of America’s favorite Hollywood phrases with amusing intervals of typographical surveillance, this art installation punctuates and enhances its architecture and its environment.”
Cameron McNall (principal); Damon Seeley (partner, interactive designer); Eitan Mendelowitz, Bradley Geilfuss (programmers)
Act One Communications (LEDs), Polaris Lighting (installation)