The Kinetic Light Installation, (untitled) 2000 by artist Paul Tzanetopoulos, is the public art component of the LAX Gateway Beautification Project. Completed for the Los Angeles International Airport for Los Angeles World Airports on August 8, 2000, the work is the largest permanent public art lighting installation in the world. The Kinetic Light Installation, visible at night, is housed within a complex of 26 giant, translucent glass pylons.

Pylons on Century Boulevard. Photo by Tom Paiva.

Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA) worked with the City of Los Angeles’ Cultural Affairs Department to commission Tzanetopoulos for two tasks – to solely create a large-scale public art work utilizing light and movement (the Kinetic Light Installation); and secondarily, to work within the LAX Gateway design team to create an artist’s interface that would allow the creative lighting programming within the pylons, and ensure that the lighting technology would be implemented and consistent with the goal of the public art element.

Tzanetopoulos says, “The overall concept was centered on the pylons functioning as both beacon and gateway to Los Angeles. From the onset, it was important to me that this landmark become an enduring piece for Los Angeles — it was crucial to maintain the pylons’ monolithic stance. I wanted to create a landmark installation that still dealt with its location and purpose, while maintaining and amplifying its overall scale and complexity. It was clear that this installation dealt with the greeting factor as a unique welcoming feature to travelers and the Los Angeles community. I set out to create a focus in a very diffused and eclectic environment.”

Facts Block
LAX Gateway Pylon Project
Kinetic Light Installation
by Paul Tzanetopoulos
Los Angeles International Airport

Century Boulevard and the Century/Sepulveda Boulevard Exchange, 
Los Angeles, California, USA
1.5 mile span of 26 illuminated pylons
11 pylons, 6’ diameter, ranging from 25’ to 60’ on Century Blvd. and 15 pylons, 12’ diameter, 100’ high at the intersection of Century Boulevard & Sepulveda Boulevard
Translucent glass, computer-driven kinetic light display
Commissioned By
Los Angeles World Airports, for Los Angeles International Airport
Art Consultant
Public Art Consultant: Michelle Isenberg and Associates, Inc. (1999-2000)
Gateway to LA Liaison and Facilitation: Merry Norris, Merry Norris Contemporary Art (2000/2006)

Thematically, the pylons on Century Boulevard are illuminated so as to create a welcoming motion toward the airport. The pylons in the circular central exchange (at Century and Sepulveda Boulevards) receive their motivation and color from this movement.

The artist continues, “The colors metaphorically work from the airport out to the greater Los Angeles community – and beyond. The colors begin with white purity and transition to a blue thematic position illustrating the airport. Next is a color specifically attributed to represent the combined light of the universe. Following is a sequence of red, white and blue illustrating the specificity of place (the United States, with LAX as a gateway), and then the colors transition to greens and blues, evoking terrestrial concerns and ecology. The palette continues with rich, emotional values and hues that relate to my long-standing work with cultural patterns and colors of our ethnic diversity (saturated hues derived from ethnic textiles, flags, and regional art forms), and then transition to kinetic displays evoking modern notions of movement and technology. The color palette is further amplified by my use of fades and transitions between colors to create thousands of transient, organic colors.”

The significance of the lighting in the pylons pivots around its scale and kinetic quality. In the evening, the pylons become volumes of colors and kinetic light forms, unique in scale and variability. Functioning both as architectural and sculptural elements, steeped in geo-historical context, they resonate with contemporary and classical character. Classically, as forms and volumes, they point to an uplifting nature and provide a strong sense of place. The internal lighting conceptually turns the pylons inside out by appearing to have absorbed the environment, re-illustrating it in a kinetic light display. The Los Angeles social spectrum and diversity are literally played out in the varied colors and luminosities emitted from the pylons.

The lighting in the pylons provides a welcoming motion and path to the airport and its facilities. The overall kinetic geometry illustrated in the pylons moves at a rate and direction designed to grab attention and direct the casual observer and, more specifically, the airport community and all its constituencies, to LAX. All aspects of the color and kinetic qualities pivot around a thematic metaphorical spectrum for diversity and tolerance emanating from LAX.

Kinetic Energy: The Plan Behind the Lights at LAX
To see the inverview, Click Here

For More Information, Videos, and Images, Click Here

To read about LAX Gateway Pylon Project Upgrade 2006, Click Here

To learn about LAX “9/11: Red White Blue,” Click Here