Color Commons 2017

Color Commons 2017

Color Commons is a responsive installation by New American Public Art that invites passersby to change the color of The Greenway’s twelve 24-foot tall Light Blades via text message. The Light Blades (originally by Dennis Carmichael) line the Wharf District parks between State Street and India Street, and have become a much more personal and relatable icon since NAPA enabled them to be controlled by the public. As an added element of intrigue throughout the installation, in addition to texting colors, the public can solve a cipher and text the decoded message to the Light Blades. The cipher – a simple letter substitution puzzle – will be posted on-site. By texting the correct message, the visitor will be rewarded with an unexpected color show.

“We’re delighted to again commission New American Public Art to work with us on an activation that achieves our goal of providing engaging wintertime entertainment for Bostonians and visitors,” offered Greenway Conservancy Executive Director Jesse Brackenbury. “Color Commons provides a terrific opportunity to pair The Greenway’s free WiFi network – one of the state’s largest – with an innovative local design studio as passionate about interactive experiences as we are.”

Color Commons is programmed with over 900 different color names, utilizing the color list created by XKCD. The piece connects the Light Blades to the Greenway-wide carrier-grade free WiFi system using a Raspberry Pi microcontroller with a built-in web server. When someone sends a text, the server sends the message to the microcontroller. Whether it’s a color or the ciphered message, the microcontroller translates the text to a trigger code which changes the colors of the Light Blades.

By activating Color Commons, New American Public Art and The Greenway hope to make Boston a more playable city, one where existing urban infrastructure can be reused in ways that enhance person-to-city and person-to-person connections. In 2016, The Greenway made a commitment to playability through their hire of a full-time Play Coordinator. Both groups hope to continue their collaborations to put Boston on the map of cities across the globe that have joined the movement to make their urban spaces more playable.

Color Commons will be on display through Winter 2017 and the phone number for texting the system will be posted on site throughout the installation.

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2yellowyellow: 1Mr. 3WPBMr. 3WPB: noneblueblue: 3orangeorange: 1pinkpink: 1purplepurple: 1realreal: 2redred: 3red bluered blue: 1red white bluered white blue: 1tealteal: 1whitewhite: 3Ms. QG4IMs. QG4I: noneblueblue: 1goldgold: 1greengreen: 1maroonmaroon: 1pinkpink: 1purplepurple: 1randomrandom: 1redred: 1whitewhite: 1Mr. LZK6Mr. LZK6: noneblueblue: 1goldgold: 1greengreen: 1purplepurple: 1red white bluered white blue: 1Mr. 5LFQMr. 5LFQ: noneblueblue: 2greengreen: 1multimulti: 1redred: 2Mr. 5ZIJMr. 5ZIJ: noneblueblue: 1peachpeach: 1pinkpink: 1poopoo: 1redred: 1waterwater: 1Mr. NZJSMr. NZJS: noneblueblue: 1secretsecret: 1Mr. BQ3KMr. BQ3K: noneblueblue: 1greengreen: 1pinkpink: 1redred: 1yellowyellow: 1Mr. DIQRMr. DIQR: noneblueblue: 5cyancyan: 1greengreen: 4pinkpink: 3purplepurple: 2redred: 2yellowyellow: 2Mr. 59P9Mr. 59P9: noneblueblue: 1blue red green pinkblue red green pink: 1pinkpink: 1redred: 1white red pinkwhite red pink: 1Mr. 5S2ZMr. 5S2Z: noneblueblue: 1redred: 1Ms. 4255Ms. 4255: noneblueblue: 2cyancyan: 2greengreen: 1orangeorange: 2pinkpink: 2purplepurple: 1redred: 2yellowyellow: 1Ms. Q935Ms. Q935: noneblueblue: 1rainbowrainbow: 1🌈🌈: 1Ms. SF5MMs. SF5M: noneblueblue: 1greengreen: 1purplepurple: 1secretsecret: 1tealteal: 1yellowyellow: 1Mr. 2I1VMr. 2I1V: noneblueblue: 1cyancyan: 1Ms. 730FMs. 730F: noneblueblue: 2coalcoal: 2coralcoral: 1greengreen: 2indigoindigo: 1lodenloden: 1mudmud: 1redred: 2sandsand: 1strawstraw: 1whitewhite: 1yellowyellow: 2Mr. 5I5GMr. 5I5G: noneblueblue: 1Ms. L9QHMs. L9QH: noneblueblue: 3greengreen: 2orangeorange: 1pinkpink: 1purplepurple: 1yellowyellow: 1Mr. 5931Mr. 5931: noneblueblue: 1greengreen: 1Mr. 9XQ6Mr. 9XQ6: noneblueblue: 1cyancyan: 1greengreen: 1pinkpink: 1purplepurple: 1Mr. KPS1Mr. KPS1: noneblueblue: 2bright yellowbright yellow: 2brownbrown: 1great job bevin!great job bevin!: 1great job jess!great job jess!: 1hello dan! great job. andrewhello dan! great job. andrew: 1light bluelight blue: 1neon greenneon green: 1neon pinkneon pink: 1pinkpink: 1purplepurple: 1red orangered orange: 1tealteal: 1whitewhite: 1Ms. QDKCMs. QDKC: noneblueblue: 2cyancyan: 1greengreen: 1orangeorange: 1pinkpink: 2purplepurple: 2redred: 1whitewhite: 1Mr. 1ZNMMr. 1ZNM: noneblueblue: 1Mr. MS1MMr. MS1M: noneblueblue: 1fuschiafuschia: 1goldgold: 1greengreen: 1marigoldmarigold: 1orangeorange: 2pinkpink: 3purplepurple: 2realreal: 1yellowyellow: 2Ms. OB34Ms. OB34: noneblueblue: 2goldgold: 1greengreen: 1redred: 1Mr. OYR3Mr. OYR3: noneblueblue: 2citroncitron: 3Mr. 6NOSMr. 6NOS: nonebrownbrown: 1fishfish: 1graygray: 1light bluelight blue: 1pinkpink: 1purplepurple: 1roserose: 1rustrust: 1yellowyellow: 1🌶🌶: 1Mr. 4UEVMr. 4UEV: nonebrownbrown: 1fuchsiafuchsia: 1mauvemauve: 1mint greenmint green: 1mulberrymulberry: 1Ms. K3QQMs. K3QQ: nonebrownbrown: 1orangeorange: 1royal blueroyal blue: 1tealteal: 1Mr. 3AO2Mr. 3AO2: nonebrownbrown: 2greengreen: 1orangeorange: 1peepee: 1pisspiss: 1shitshit: 1Ms. OI2OMs. OI2O: noneburgundyburgundy: 1cyancyan: 2fuchsiafuchsia: 1fuschiafuschia: 1fusciafuscia: 1golden rodgolden rod: 1grassy greengrassy green: 2greengreen: 1periwinkleperiwinkle: 1purplepurple: 1secretsecret: 1yellowyellow: 1Mr. BYQPMr. BYQP: nonecalfcalf: 1dusty rosedusty rose: 1limelime: 1pucepuce: 1tealteal: 1violetviolet: 1Ms. R95RMs. R95R: noneceruleancerulean: 1chartreusechartreuse: 1fuchsiafuchsia: 1indigoindigo: 1lapis lazulilapis lazuli: 1luceluce: 1pucepuce: 1silversilver: 1Mr. 1DRHMr. 1DRH: nonechartreusechartreuse: 1cherrycherry: 2fuckfuck: 1greengreen: 1greygrey: 1lemonlemon: 1leoleo: 1maybemaybe: 1mustardmustard: 1orangeorange: 2periwinkleperiwinkle: 1pinkpink: 1pucepuce: 1pukepuke: 1purplepurple: 1redred: 1scarletscarlet: 2siennasienna: 1silversilver: 1tangerinetangerine: 1turquoiseturquoise: 4yellowyellow: 1Mr. 4547Mr. 4547: noneclementineclementine: 4cloverclover: 1grassgrass: 1greengreen: 1indigoindigo: 1pinkpink: 1purplepurple: 1redred: 1roserose: 1rubyruby: 2sapphiresapphire: 1Ms. JB6VMs. JB6V: nonecobaltcobalt: 1maroonmaroon: 1peachpeach: 1purplepurple: 1red bluered blue: 1secretsecret: 1Mr. 3JQNMr. 3JQN: nonecyancyan: 1Ms. 63LEMs. 63LE: nonecyancyan: 1lavenderlavender: 1lemonlemon: 1petrolpetrol: 1violetviolet: 1Ms. 411EMs. 411E: nonedeep purpledeep purple: 1macaroni and cheesemacaroni and cheese: 1orangeorange: 1pukepuke: 1puke greenpuke green: 1royal blueroyal blue: 1sky bluesky blue: 1turquoiseturquoise: 1winewine: 1yolkyolk: 1Mr. 4RACMr. 4RAC: noneforestforest: 1magentamagenta: 1Mr. RUNVMr. RUNV: nonefresh greenfresh green: 1mudmud: 1royalroyal: 1ugly yellowugly yellow: 1Mr. 0AICMr. 0AIC: nonegoldgold: 1Mr. 1YPLMr. 1YPL: nonegreengreen: 1Ms. PN0NMs. PN0N: nonegreengreen: 1magentamagenta: 1pinkpink: 1yellowyellow: 1Ms. NI4LMs. NI4L: nonegreengreen: 1indigoindigo: 1Mr. 8Z8ZMr. 8Z8Z: nonegreengreen: 1redred: 20Mr. OS1NMr. OS1N: nonegreengreen: 1purplepurple: 1redred: 1whitewhite: 1yellowyellow: 1Mr. AQOJMr. AQOJ: nonegreengreen: 1Mr. 12OJMr. 12OJ: nonegreengreen: 1yellowyellow: 1Ms. MLGLMs. MLGL: nonegreengreen: 1Mr. 0HODMr. 0HOD: nonegreengreen: 1Mr. 12QSMr. 12QS: nonelight bluelight blue: 1Ms. NK96Ms. NK96: nonemagentamagenta: 1Mr. 17BQMr. 17BQ: nonemauvemauve: 1maybemaybe: 1pee greenpee green: 1Ms. OINJMs. OINJ: noneorangeorange: 1Ms. M15SMs. M15S: noneorangeorange: 1Mr. 0GMKMr. 0GMK: noneorangeorange: 1pinkpink: 1purplepurple: 1violetviolet: 1Mr. 0U7UMr. 0U7U: noneorangeorange: 2pinkpink: 1redred: 1Ms. R3P9Ms. R3P9: nonepea greenpea green: 1periwinkleperiwinkle: 1sky bluesky blue: 1Mr. 7BMWMr. 7BMW: nonepinkpink: 1Ms. S3MNMs. S3MN: nonepinkpink: 1Ms. A5P0Ms. A5P0: nonepinkpink: 1Ms. OEJ6Ms. OEJ6: nonepurplepurple: 1Ms. NHIWMs. NHIW: nonerainbowrainbow: 1Ms. A6QUMs. A6QU: noneredred: 1Mr. 3SKRMr. 3SKR: noneredred: 1Mr. 03SCMr. 03SC: nonesecretsecret: 2Ms. H34XMs. H34X: nonesecretsecret: 1Mr. 5GQ6Mr. 5GQ6: nonesecretsecret: 1Mr. 25B8Mr. 25B8: nonetealteal: 1Mr. MV20Mr. MV20: nonetealteal: 1Mr. 4T1DMr. 4T1D: noneturquoiseturquoise: 1Mr. 5YRLMr. 5YRL: noneyellowyellow: 1Mr. QR4LMr. QR4L: noneyellowyellow: 1

Here is a fun visualization of the first week that Color Commons 2017 was installed. It shows unique users and every color that they sent.

Color Commons fulfills the standards of an Open Public Art work :

New American Public Art
Dan Sternof Beyer - Creative Director
Brandon Stafford - Engineering Director

Rose Kennedy Greenway
Kait Klevesque  - Play Coordinator
Lumen Pulse
Paul DeRocher - Systems Integrator

Historical Precedents / Sources
Color Commons 2013
Dennis Carmichael

Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International CC BY-SA 4.0




Greenway Light Blades, Raspi 2, Twilio, Pharos LPC
Rose Kennedy Greenway, 2017
Boston, MA

Special Thanks : 
Rose Kennedy Greenway