Born in 1967 in Albuquerque, NM, Leo Villareal began experimenting with light, sound, and video while studying set design and sculpture at Yale University, where he received his BA. He then studied new media and computing at New York University’s interactive telecommunications program at the Tisch School of the Arts. He also learned the programming skills that enabled him to push LED technology past familiar commercial applications
Since the 1960s, a growing number of artworks have exploited light to frame and create spaces in the built environment. These include Dan Flavin's space-defining fluorescent light sculptures, James Turrell's color-saturated voids, Jenny Holzer's LED-generated texts, and Felix Gonzales-Torres' strings of lightbulbs. While Villareal's art acknowledges these forebears, his concepts relate more closely to the instructional wall drawings of Sol LeWitt and the systems-based paintings of Peter Halley.
Multiverse is one of Villareal’s largest and most complex light sculptures. It is experienced by visitors as they pass through the Concourse walkway between the East and West Buildings. The work features approximately 41,000 computer-programmed LED (light-emitting diode) nodes that run through existing channels along the 200-foot-long space. The programming both instructs the lights and allows for an element of chance, so that it is very unlikely that any pattern will repeat during a viewer's experience. Development of this project began in 2005, and installation took place between September and December 2008.
Commissioned from the artist by NGA; installed 2008 in the ceiling and walls of the Concourse walkway between the East and West Buildings of the National Gallery of Art.
- Fisher, Adam. "Bright Idea: The Artist Leo Villareal Lighs up the Bay Bridge, One Bulb at a Time." New York Times Style Magazine 162, no. 55973 (Holiday, December 2, 2012): 128.
- Kahn, Nikki. “Moving at the Speed of Light.” Washington Post 136, no. 44 (January 18, 2013): B-10, color repro.
- Wollan, Malia. "Long-Overshadowed Bay Bridge Will Go from Drab Gray to Glowing." New York Times 162, no. 56,066 (March 5, 2013): A17.