Albany, Schenectady, and Troy, NY

Albany Times Union: Testing Phase for ‘Breathing Lights’ in Vacant Buildings

A temporary art installation that will soon transform hundreds of vacant buildings in Albany, Schenectady and Troy into sources of gently pulsing light is now in the testing phase, said the artists and organizers behind the project.

“It’s inching to fruition,” said Adam Frelin, one of the artists and masterminds behind “Breathing Lights,” the three cities’ winning submission to the Bloomberg Philanthropies Public Art Challenge.

Frelin attended a news event Wednesday afternoon at the former St. Mary’s Church on Eastern Avenue in Schenectady, where the “Breathing Lights” team recently ran trial illuminations of eight empty buildings.

The work tested the lights themselves and coordination among various human elements in the process, including the contractor, the land bank, zoning and coding, Frelin said. The trial runs also gave him “a chance to refine the effect — so being out there on the street and learning about when it looks good, when it doesn’t look good.” In the past, Frelin has compared the effect to large, breathing animals or “a dormant life source that exists below the entire region.”

Mayors Kathy Sheehan of Albany, Gary McCarthy of Schenectady and Patrick Madden of Troy attended the event and announced further details about “Breathing Lights.” The project is financed with a Bloomberg grant of approximately $1 million and through local fundraising.

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