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The New Buzz at Bleecker Street
Lighting artist Leo Villareal installs new LED installation in Manhattan subway station.
Courtesy MTA

The subway has gone disco thanks to a new hallucinatory lighting installation by New Mexico-born artist Leo Villareal. Hive incorporates a network of LED tube-lights forming hexagonal webbing on the low-rise ceilings of the Bleecker Street subway station. The individual hives outline a honeycomb and illuminate the newly opened transfer passage from one uptown train to another. Encoded computer programming generates random light patterns where the LEDs change colors, altering from florescent lavender to psychedelic green. The playful, hypnotic light adds liveliness and sparkle to an otherwise nerve-racking commute. Villareal’s exploration of the element of chance in his work brings his light sculpture to life. Hive’s dynamism bridges the color, light, and space of the station to create an entrancing atmosphere.


Villareal found inspiration for his lighting randomization from British mathematician John Horton Conway’s Game of Life. Life is a cellular automaton in which a two-dimensional grid of cells interacting determines their survival, reproduction, and death. The unpredictable flashing and morphing of the LEDs echo the erratic ever-changing nature of the city itself and, perchance, the irregular possibility of your train showing up on time.

Clara Freedman