Madison Square Park will glow with hundreds of orbs

Hundreds of ethereal orbs will sway in the wind at Madison Square Park this winter as part of a new public art project by artist Erwin Redl.

Starting Thursday, 900 spheres will be suspended from a square grid of steel poles and cabling over the Oval Lawn and glow with discreet LED lights, according to the Madison Square Park Conservancy/Mad. Sq. Art.

Each polyurethane globe is 2 inches in diameter, transparent on the bottom and opaque on the top — a design that helps point the light downward.

The orbs will light up in abstract patterns, too, adding movement and light to the otherwise dark nights.

Redl, 54, who was born in Austria and now lives in New York City and Chicago, said his “Whiteout” installation “blurs the border between the virtual and the real.”

“The patterns will guide people through the space,” Redl said. “And they come in waves that will illuminate different sections of the park, kind of like a search light.”

The site-specific design is meant to reach a large audience all at the same time, so as not to gather people in one place, he added. A lot of people can watch the orbs move and blink from different vantage points.

“Walking around on the walkways, you can talk to neighbors and people in the park can communicate,” he said.

Known for his light projects on building facades, Redl takes his inspiration from the Light and Space movement of the late 1960s, which focused on using light to offer a new perspective, and from the minimalist conceptual artist Fred Sandback.

This project, while somewhat similar to his previous work, will play off the winter setting to make the park light up in the darkest days and create an otherworldly experience.

“At night, it shifts the balance to an ephemeral look — it’s light and nothing else,” he said.

The installation will run daily through midnight until March 25.

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