by Sara Hart, JoAnne Northrup, and Leo Villareal
Introduction by Steven Johnson
Catalogue in conjunction with the San Jose Museum of Art, California
Published by Hatje Cantz
American artist Leo Villareal (born 1967) is the most prominent light sculptor among a younger generation of light artists. In 1997, having abandoned his work with interactive television, Villareal began to pursue a more systems-based approach, devising complex light sculptures in which he combined strobe lights, neon, and most recently, LED bulbs activated by the artist's own extraordinary custom-made software. The effect of these bulbs, and the software that steers their flickering patterns, is cumulative and magical: thousands of tiny white LEDs may resemble a starry night as seen in a planetarium (Villareal installed this work in the windows of the Peter Jay Sharp Building at the Brooklyn Academy of Music), while tubes of colored LEDs masked by a diffuser give a softer effect that resembles something like a Monet painting of water lilies set in motion. This volume accompanies the first museum survey of Villareal's hypnotic and exhilarating light sculptures at the San Jose Museum of Art.