Light sculpture by Michael Hayden to shine again in downtown L.A.


There will be light when Michael Hayden’s long-dormant illuminated sculpture, “Generators of the Cylinder,” flickers back to life in downtown Los Angeles on Thursday for the first time since 2008.

The piece debuted at the Los Angeles International Jewelry Center, across from Pershing Square, in 1981. Billed as one of the first large-scale works of public art to use holography, “Generators of the Cylinder” is 270 feet long and will hang above a pedestrian corridor on Hill Street.

The technology relies on a computer, programmed by Hayden, that essentially activates infrared sensors inside polycarbonate semi-cylinders that cause the body heat of pedestrians to control the movement of the lights.


The result is more than 10,000 light patterns in dancing swirls of blue, green, yellow, pink, orange and other colors in the corridor.

Jewelry Center architect Skidmore, Owings & Merrill commissioned the work in cooperation with developer Cabot, Cabot & Forbes. Although the building met with derision in 1982 from John Dreyfus, then architectural critic of the Los Angeles Times, he heaped praise on the light sculpture.

“Aesthetically, the beautiful, fascinating and dazzling sculpture will be the jewelry center’s saving grace,” Dreyfus wrote.

Upkeep of the sculpture -- particularly shielding it from the harm that could result from air pollution -- is the biggest challenge.

The Jewelry Center is receiving a face-lift, however, and builder Michael Grosswendt of All Coast Construction was hired to resurrect the sculpture. Grosswendt, in turn, brought on specialty fabricator Damion Gardner, who disassembled, cleaned and reassembled the complicated structure.

“Generators of the Cylinder” will be turned on during a ceremony to be held 4 to 6 p.m. Thursday at 550 S. Hill St.


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