Site-Specific Interactive Installations this fall in San Francisco

Originally published in the Marina Times San Francisco in September 2019

In September, the public will have the opportunity to visit site-specific installations on Treasure Island and at the Fort Mason Center.

Signal by Tom Loughlin is an interactive work made from three 12-ton girders from the former eastern span of the San Francisco Bay Bridge. This public art project will be on Treasure Island through 2022, utilizing some of the eastern span’s old bridge steel. The Oakland Museum of California and the Toll Bridge Program Oversight committee awarded the residual steel to 15 artists for use in public art in California. Tom Loughlin is a San Francisco-based conceptual artist, and the 12-ton girders will feature a rare, original signal light from the top of the bridge. Visitors will be able to step into the sculpture and experience light pulses from the signal lamp and low, cyclical vibration calibrated to mimic a foghorn.

The eastern span replacement of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge is engineered to withstand large earthquakes after the Loma Prieta earthquake in 1989 caused a portion of the bridge to collapse. Crews worked to dismantle the massive eastern span five years ago, at which time artists began expressing an interest in repurposing the bridge steel into art. A committee with expertise about the bridge’s history and public art ultimately selected 15 artists, architects and designers and awarded the steel under the condition that it would be converted into public art in California. On September 22, Tom Loughlin will unveil the largest and most ambitious installation of the public art project awardees. Located on the western edge of Treasure Island, Signal raises questions about the natural landscape and the tools humans use to live and travel. Loughlin has spent his career as a conceptual artist interested in systems of meaning. “The aim of the piece is to call to mind various rhythms that intersect the San Francisco Bay”, says Loughlin. “The pulsing light and sound of the sculpture point to the navigational aids, bridges, and other structures we’ve put into the bay to assist our travel. I hope they will also evoke the natural rhythm of tides and sunrises and weather changes, and our own biological rhythms.”

Signal will be free and open to the public daily starting on September 22, 2019 and continuing at least through 2022. It is located on the western edge of Treasure Island, only 50 meters from the restaurant Mersea. For more information, the public can visit

Fort Mason’s Center for Arts & Culture (FMCAC) presents actions vent ascending frequencies, a combination roller rink and art installation experience brought to San Francisco by the art platform assume vivid astro focus (avaf). The beautiful, vibrant floor design of the roller skating rink blends psychedelic art and color fields to create a pop-up art installation reminiscent of disco-driven skate sites. Skate culture has a rich history of creating community. “Roller skating brings people together,” says Eli Sudbrack, founder of avaf. “Living in such polarizing times, it’s important that my practice helps unite people.” Sudbrack began avaf in 2001, and began working with Christophe Hamaide Pierson in 2005 as a duo that often morphs into a collective for select projects. avaf has created many installations worldwide and confronts issues related to gender, politics and embedded cultural codes using pop images and neon colors. Local roller-skating organizations the Church of 8 Wheels and Bay Area Derby are partnering with FMCAC to produce and operate the rink. They will also provide rink hosts, DJ’s and special programming throughout the duration of the project.

“actions vent ascending frequencies draws together images of liberation and an activity of freedom-skating-to create a new meeting space out of a parking lot,” says Frank Smigiel, Director of Arts Programming and Partnerships at FMCAC. “I fully expect avaf’s intervention to transform our inert asphalt into something fabulous.”

This installation was originally presented in New York City’s Central Park for the 2004 Whitney Biennial and has more recently appeared at Faena Art in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 2014 and at Miami’s Art Basel in 2015. A new version of this project will also appear in Hamburg, Germany later this year.

actions vent ascending frequencies is open to the public from September 13 through October 6, 2019. The exhibition is free and open to the public, and roller skates can be rented for $5.

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