“Luminous Earth Grid”
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An electrified array of 1,680 lamps sweeps over an expanse equal to 8 football fields.
Published:
For a sense of scale, note the herd of cattle grazing just above the grid. Photo © Craig Collins. Click on photo for a larger view.
“Luminous Earth Grid”
© Stuart Williams 1993. All rights reserved.

Solano County, California
(total area = 8 football fields)

Electrified Grid: “Luminous Earth Grid,” an array of 1,680 energy-efficient fluorescent lamps, swept over an area equal to 8 football fields, 50 miles north of San Francisco. Said the artist, “I see the project as a poetic statement on the potential harmony between technology and nature.” Over a five year period, Williams launched a rigorous fund raising campaign throughout Northern California, and raised nearly $500,000 to realize the massive project. It was widely acclaimed by critics around the globe and drew tens of thousands of visitors.

Cosponsored by: New York Foundation for the Arts & Intersection for the Arts, San Francisco


Major Funders & Contributors: LEF Foundation, St. Helena, CA; Rene and Veronica Di Rosa Foundation, Napa, CA; Sylvania; Pacific Gas & Electric; Express Lighting Supply; CC Electric; Calistoga Mineral Water; Anheuser Busch;
The Cockayne Fund, New York City & Louisville, Kentucky.


“It is unquestionably the most ambitious work of environmental art in the San Francisco Bay Area since Christo’s ‘Running Fence.’ It is a joyful thing.”  — Allen Temko, Pulitzer Prize-winning critic, San Francisco Chronicle

READ an interview with Williams by a writer in Berlin. (in English)     

“Art in America” review

All photos © Craig Collins unless otherwise noted.

Click on any image for a larger view.
“It emanated a sense of the romantic sublime with its aura of surprise and wonder. It is a very, very beautiful thing.”
— Peter Selz, former curator, Museum of Modern Art, New York.
 
Said Williams, “The glowing green grid can be seen as an icon of computer imaging technology, which in this ‘real life,’ incarnation, gently melds with the flowing shape of a lovely landscape... a dream-like vision of symbiotic unity.”
“Our emotional connection to an increasingly technologically dominated life would not be addressed by most artists until years later. This makes the ‘Luminous Earth Grid,’ by American artist Stuart Williams, all the more remarkable.” 
— iGNANT, Berlin
Two student volunteers from UC Davis standing in the grid. 
An installation crew of more than 200 individuals helped fabricate and install the project.
Detail photo taken at sunset.
Detail showing a herd of cattle grazing just above the grid. A solar-powered electric fence surrounded the 2400 foot perimeter of the grid to keep cattle from grazing within the array of lamps, which could have led to their injury and/or damage to the installation.
This close up of the 4 foot energy-efficient T8 fluorescent lamps shows how they were joined end on end within a protective and flexible section of rubber washing machine hose. Paralleling the lamps, and running just under them, you can see lines of PVC pipe which carried more than 12 miles of electrical wiring.
Detail.
“Luminous Earth Grid” was located approximately 50 miles northeast of San Francisco. (See map above.)
1,700 waterproof, flexible electrical connectors are prepared, which linked the massive array of fluorescent tubes end on end. The connectors provided protection from rain, and also allowed the linear array of 4 foot tubes to bend and incrementally match the roll of the terrain. Photo © Stuart Williams.
3 miles of PVC conduit, cut into 4 foot lengths, and awaiting transport to the project site. Photo © Stuart Williams.
Tens of thousands of pounds of steel hardware, electrical cable, ballasts and energy-efficient lamps had to be trucked to the site. Many dozens of truck loads later, the lengthy on-site installation work commenced. On-site
installation took one month. Photo © Stuart Williams.
12 miles of electrical wiring were required to facilitate the installation. In addition, a 6-ton extension cable was strung down the mountainside and hooked into existing power lines along the freeway to bring power to the grid. That solid copper cable — the diameter of a man’s forearm — was valued at $50,000, and was loaned to the project by the
U.S. Naval Shipyards in Vallejo, California. Photo © Stuart Williams.
Three dedicated members of the installation crew. 20,000 person hours of labor were required for off-site
pre-fabrication, on-site installation, and de-installation. All materials were reclaimed or recycled. 
Photo © Stuart Williams.
As the grid neared completion, the three lead electricians and the artist gathered for a photo. 
Photo © Nancy Bronstein.
 
A San Francisco television news crew visits the site to interview the artist, and takes him aloft for a bird’s-eye view of
the project site, just before the opening day. Photo © Stan Golovich.
“Art in America” Review (above)
Artist’s initial concept sketch (#1), done in Los Angeles in 1982.
© Stuart Williams 1982. All rights reserved.
Artist’s initial concept sketch (#2), done in Los Angeles in 1982.
© Stuart Williams 1982. All rights reserved.