06.20.2017

Conservatory of Flowers lights up for Summer of Love

Groovy light show dazzles in Golden Gate Park

The San Francisco Conservatory of Flowers is lighting up for the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love, the 1967 social movement that brought thousands of flower children—high on life and LSD—to Haight-Ashbury.

Gearing up for the grand lighting in Golden Gate Park this week, technicians from Obscura Digital, a San Francisco-based creative studio, tested the installation after four months of production.

Illuminate, the team behind the Bay Lights, the largest LED light sculpture in the world, partnered with Obscura Digital and the San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department to recreate the psychedelic summer by projecting images onto the conservatory.

Using 10 old-school gobo projectors, six rotating images inspired by the summer of 1967 (think tropical flowers and colorful swirls) are cast onto the conservatory facade. This is Obscura Digital’s first permanent exterior projection installation.

“To work on such an iconic piece of architecture, like an architectural crown jewel of San Francisco, and to be able to create a permanent installation that takes its beauty as it stands to the next level, is just a dream opportunity,” says Will Chase, head of communications at Obscura Digital.

Choosing the Conservatory of Flowers for the installation was an easy decision given its expansive, white exterior, and what Phil Ginsburg, general manager of the San Francisco Parks and Recreation Department, calls “a natural canvas, beckoning light and color.”

There are five glass gobo projectors on the left side of the conservatory and five on the right, each hitting a quadrant of the conservatory to reflect the images without distorting them.

“These typically spin logos on showroom floors and things, but in the hands of Obscura Digital, they’ve taken this analog technology and completely pushed it into a realm it’s never been in before in the name of art,” says Ben Davis, founder of Illuminate.

With the Conservatory of Flowers installation complete, Illuminate will continue to develop LightRail, the world’s first subway-responsive light sculpture.

“Illuminate has visions to bring awe across all of San Francisco,” says Davis. “We think there’s a great possibility of bringing awe to just about every inch of San Francisco through public art.”

The installation is scheduled to debut on Wednesday during a free Surrealistic Summer Solstice jam that will feature a variety of musicians who will perform hit songs of the late 1960s.

The installation will be on view from June 21 through October 21, from 6 p.m.-10 p.m, nightly at sundown.

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