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'BUCKYBALL' Sculpture to Illuminate Madison Sq. Park in Millions of Colors

By Mary Johnson | June 29, 2012 2:01pm
A rendering of BUCKYBALL, which will be on display in Madison Square Park from Oct. 25, 2012 to February of 2013.
A rendering of BUCKYBALL, which will be on display in Madison Square Park from Oct. 25, 2012 to February of 2013.
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Leo Villareal

MANHATTAN —  A new sculpture is coming to Madison Square Park this fall uniting art, science and math through millions of distinct colors. 

The 30-foot-tall piece, titled "BUCKYBALL," will be built by artist Leo Villareal and is meant to resemble a carbon 60 molecule.

It will consist of two spheres — one contained within the other — decked out with 180 LED tubes capable of displaying 16 million distinct colors.

Those lights will be synced with software Villareal developed to create random light sequences.

“I am thrilled to be presenting 'BUCKYBALL' in Madison Square Park,” Villareal said in a statement. “This public artwork reinterprets many of the traditional elements found in the park, such as seating and historic monuments, in a fresh and exciting way.”

The piece will follow Charles Long’s art installation inside Madison Square Park that created a series of vibrating pipes throughout the park. That work will be on display through Sept. 9.

Villareal — whose work has appeared at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, the Museum of Modern Art and the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. — said the inspiration for "BUCKYBALL" comes largely from Buckminster Fuller, a renowned 20th century inventor who was well known for his work with domes.

The purpose of the piece, he added, is to trigger neurological processes in the brain, tapping into the natural human impulse to identify patterns and meaning from the external environment.

To encourage that analysis, the sculpture will be surrounded by couches that will allow visitors to recline below the artwork.

Debbie Landau, president of the Madison Square Park Conservancy, said "BUCKYBALL" will make for a welcome addition to the park this fall.

“It shares much in common with the shifting colors and light of the fall season,” Landau said in a statement. “It will animate the park throughout the fall and winter with its ever-shifting light.” 

"BUCKYBALL" will be on display inside Madison Square Park from Oct. 25 through February 2013.