Ben Davis is many things. He’s a gorilla logo on a line of work clothes, he’s a former Major League Baseball catcher, and he’s also a lighting designer. That’s the Ben Davis I want to talk about. Davis is a member of Illuminate the Arts (ITA), the collective that worked with artist Leo Villareal to bring The Bay Lights display on the San Francisco Bay Bridge into existence. As noted on the website, their vision is to “alter the arc of human history through the creation of transformational works of public art.” Well, last Saturday he did that, and I was lucky enough to be standing on the ground looking up to witness first-hand Pi In The Sky.
By Larissa Zimberoff
I was on Randall’s Island to see the band Phish perform, both were a first for me. But that’s not part of the story. While I was waiting for the show to start I looked around at the crowd (mostly men), across the water towards Manhattan, and then I glanced up. Curved above my head were numbers upon numbers upon numbers.
Was it a phone number? I thought. More dashed numbers were being written out in the sky. Arcs of digits in white. I actually couldn’t see the planes that were doing it, but according to ITA, the art performance was a partnership with AirSign USA. The project, creating the first 314 characters of Pi’s non-repeating sequence in a 100+ mile arc, was first presented at SXSW this past spring. Pi In The Sky required five computer-synchronized planes, all of which flew at 10,000 feet, to accomplish the collective’s goal of bringing to life “wildly accessible art.”
In a video about the project Davis referred to it as, “Radically accessible art.” It was also fleeting and impermanent. I loved it.
Watch the video here.