While I am often traveling through the 6 Train station at Bleecker Street, I am almost never originating or concluding a ride at that stop. That is my excuse for taking four years to write about one of the coolest — if not the coolest – piece of art in the entire NYC subway system, which is called Hive (Bleecker Street).
Artist Leo Villareal created the LED art, currently installed at the Bleecker Street subway station, in 2012. Made of LED tubes, custom software, electrical hardware, aluminum and stainless steel, the LED sculpture takes the form of a honeycomb, above the stairs that mark the transfer point connecting the IRT and IND subway lines.
Bright colors, outlining each hexagonal honeycomb shape, move across the sculpture. Villareal created an unprecedented art experience for transit riders who use the station with the installations use of technology and LEDs. Hive (Bleecker Street) has a playful aspect in its reference to games. Riders will be able to identify individual elements within a larger context, and track this movement.
The work explores the compulsion to recognize patterns and the brain’s hard-coded desire to understand and make meaning. The patterns also take inspiration from the research of the mathematician John Conway, who invented the Game of Life, the best-known cellular automata program. Hive (Bleecker Street) speaks to a diverse audience – it is abstract and evocative, and can have many different meanings.
Through changing patterns presented in randomized progression, Hive creates an experience for riders . Overall, the piece resonates with the activity of the station, transportation network and the city itself. The work was fabricated by Parallel Development.
The best photos of Hive (Bleecker Street) are taken from the stairs or escalator below the installation, but I was waiting for a train late at night and did not want to miss it, so took these photos and video from the platform. If I get better photos in the future, I will add them to this post!