Night Rider

The clogged evening-rush-hour lanes of I-405, your car stuck in central Bellevue, would not seem the best place to view an art installation. Pull off the freeway at the Northeast Eighth Street cloverleaf, however, perhaps en route to some after-work shopping at Bellevue Square, and you’ll get a clearer look at Night Rider (through Jan. 3). Local artist Joseph Gray has commandeered the seventh-floor windows of a tower in progress, about 300 feet across, facing east to the highway. As he explained while we recently walked around the corner from Open Satellite gallery to view the work, he spaced 22 lights in three primary colors along the windows. The array isn’t a simple red back-and-forth pulse (as in, yes, Knight Rider), but a cleverly sequenced spectrum wash. “We got a bunch of stuff from Home Depot,” Gray explains. The humble contractor lights, covered with colored gels, are then controlled by program. In this and other lighting designs, he adds, “I use a lot of sine waves.” Indeed, the sequence rolls from one end of the otherwise darkened building to the other and back, with a luminous sloshing effect. The horizontal array is framed against the black glass façade in a manner that suggests the grille of the famous super-intelligent talking car that David Hasselhoff once drove on TV. “As soon as I saw the lights,” Gray admits, “I saw the strip on the car.” As for the naming of this installation, “It’s not so literal.” He prefers the k-less notion of night to echo the commuters swooshing past on 405, the motion and conveyance. And when the real-estate developers—who commissioned the work—bring the mixed-use tower online next spring, “these are all gonna be apartments,” Gray notes. The windows then will be illuminated each evening by dozens of static TV and computer screens, after the lonely night riders have reached home. And for the record, neither the voice of William Daniels nor Val Kilmer (in the new TV remake) can now be heard emanating from the building. BRIAN MILLER

Dec. 25-Jan. 3, 2008

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