Bay Lights artist gives ABC7 News demonstration in San Francisco

Thursday, January 21, 2016
Bay Lights artist gives ABC7 News demonstration in San Francisco
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The Bay Lights are coming back Jan. 30 and their dazzle is expected to last much longer than before. Artist Leo Villareal gave ABC7 News a behind-the-scenes demonstration of how they work.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- The Bay Lights were lighting up the Bay Bridge once again Wednesday night.

For the past two weeks, the artist has been tweaking newly-installed lights for the official relighting ceremony during Super Bowl weekend. Wednesday evening he gave ABC7 News a demonstration of how he makes it all work.

WATCH VIDEO: Time-lapse of the Bay Lights installation

From the 28th floor of the Lumina Condominiums in Downtown San Francisco, Leo Villareal put the final touches on his electronic canvass.

"So there will be this burst of particles that are moving across the bridge," Villareal said. "So now I have all these particles flying around and when I click the mouse here, I can gather them all together and bring them anywhere I want across the bridge."

From his computer palette, Villareal has been splashing the bridge with patterns of light that make up one of the largest pieces of public art in the world. This electronic medium is hard for his 12-year-old son to resist.

"I think he trusts me with it, but I wouldn't mess with it too much," said Cuatro Villareal, Leo Villareal's son.

WATCH VIDEO: Hundreds come out to watch lights turned off on Bay Bridge

On January 30, the Bay Lights will be officially flipped back on during Super Bowl weekend. The original lights fell victim to the corrosive ocean air. But $4 million in private donations helped replace 25,000 LED lights with new more weather-resistant ones.

"The brain can't help but pattern recognize and as humans we want to find meaning in things. So people see all sorts of things," Leo Villareal said.

This time it's expected to last longer. The lights will be gifted to the state and maintained by Caltrans.

Click here for full coverage on Super Bowl 50.