Light Brigade actions take on their meaning from the context of people and places. The Overpass Light Brigade – San Diego continues to create vivid and powerful visual messages at the nation’s southern border, on local overpasses, and recently by adding to a famous Bruce Nauman piece of public art on the UCSD campus, which illuminates one of seven virtues or vices, alternating through words like “Justice” or “Anger” every few seconds. OLB-SD tried to capture one virtue or vice at a time, in order to project their own additional phrases by using a theatrical spotlight and “gobos,” which are stencils that fit on the light unit in order to form the image. Though more limited than a high-lumen digital projector, this piece of gear is affordable and powerful, albeit a bit unwieldy. It is a favorite tool of Seattle’s Backbone Campaign, and is often used in conjunction with other nighttime actions, such as light panels and other forms of projection. As a field unit, it requires a power inverter and a marine battery, but once set up it can throw a crisp stencil at an impressive scale.
We love to see creative protests taking messages into the streets. This one seems particularly striking in its parasitic relationship to a pre-existing piece. The Nauman neon temporarily takes on a specificity that was not originally intended. That specificity, in light of our current horror at the upsurge of neo-nazi sentiments and rightwing duplicity in the absolute corruption of our governing forces, is an important reminder of our resistance. After the action, the public art piece returns to its more ambient, humanist intention, though it is changed forever for those who saw it in place, or its resonant replication through photography and social media.
From San Diego to New York to Aukland, The Light Brigade Network continues to do great work in the world. Be creative, be bold, be smart but be safe as you continue to #FightWithLight!