Light Matrix (Auckland Theatre Company) 2016

LEDs, powder coated steel, electrical hardware and custom software

Approx. 9 x 29 m

A site-specific installation for Auckland Theatre Company, ASB Waterfront Theatre, 138 Halsey Street, Wynyard Quarter, Auckland.

Edmiston Trust Collection.

Leo Villareal works with light by combining custom software with the new LED technology. His first light work was intended to simply serve a purpose; help him find his way back in the dark to his mobile home at the Burning Man Festival in 1997. He had created something much more intriguing. His art is now recognised as some of the most inspiring light works of his generation.

This installation made up of 8,260 LEDs, incased in channels, spans 29 metres and runs across three floors of the building. Villareal spent time at the theatre programming at night his algorithms that generate the LED sequences.

Villareal describes it as a sculpture to be explored. The public is welcome to come inside, take time with the artwork when the theatre is open. With the glazed façade the artwork is also viewable when the theatre is closed.

For Villareal the ability of an artwork to connect people and draw them together is a vital part of public art. He enjoys museums and art galleries but says, dragging art out and making it part of people’s everyday lives is really important.

Photographs: John Reynolds

Video: Filmed and edited by Stuart Page (Brilliant Films)

Leo VILLAREAL b. 1967

Leo Villareal was born in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He received a BA in sculpture from Yale University in 1990, and a graduate degree from NYU Tisch School of the Arts, Interactive Telecommunications Program. Recent exhibitions include, a solo show called, Spacetime at Fused Space in San Francisco, CA and, a survey show organized by the San Jose Museum of Art, San Jose, CA, which toured several museums in the United States.

He has completed many site specific works including, Volume (Frisco), Dallas Cowboys Headquarters, Texas; The Bay Lights across for the Bay Bridge in San Francisco, CA; Buckyball, The Embarcadero in San Francisco, California; CHORD at MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts; Volume (Renwick), for the Renwick Gallery at the Smithsonian in Washington DC; Radiant Pathways, Rice University in Houston, Texas; Multiverse, The National Gallery of Art, Washington DC; Diagonal Grid, Borusan Centre for Culture and Arts, Istanbul, Turkey; Stars, The Brooklyn Academy of Music, Brooklyn, New York; and Hive, for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority at the Bleecker Street subway station in Manhattan.

Villareal’s work is in the permanent collections of many museums including the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; Naoshima Contemporary Art Museum, Kagawa, Japan; Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art, Overland Park, Kansas; National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.


Leo Villareal Talk, Light Show, Auckland Art Gallery, January 2015.

Artwork Location