Art World

Bay Bridge scrap and parking lot roller rink: Site-specific interactive installations this fall in San Francisco

Detail of the artwork for the art installation-roller rink, Actions Vent Ascending Frequencies, by Assume Vivid Astro Focus. Photo: Courtesy of Fort Mason Center for Arts & Culture

Site-specific installations are a merging of art and environment. Finding art in unexpected places outside of the traditional gallery and museum spaces invites the viewer to see the every day in a new way. As a part of the environment, the work can be affected by elements like weather and erosion. Instead of a fixed identity in a controlled setting, the artwork evolves and is changed by the world and its surroundings. In September, the public will have the opportunity to visit site-specific installations on Treasure Island and at the Fort Mason Center for Arts & Culture.

‘Signal,’ by Tom Loughlin

When the massive eastern span of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge that collapsed in the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake was being dismantled five years ago, artists expressed interest in repurposing the bridge steel into art. A committee with expertise in the bridge’s history and public art ultimately selected 15 artists, architects, and designers and awarded the steel under the condition that it would be converted into public art in California.

Tom Loughlin, a San Francisco-based conceptual artist will unveil on Sept. 22 the largest and most ambitious installation of the public art project awardees. The 12-ton steel girders in Signal will feature a rare, original signal light from the top of the bridge. Visitors will be able to step into the sculpture and experience light pulses from the signal lamp and a low, cyclical vibration calibrated to mimic a foghorn. 

Located on the western edge of Treasure Island with views of the Bay Bridge, Signal raises questions about the natural landscape and the tools humans use to live and travel. Loughlin has spent his career as a conceptual artist interested in systems of meaning. “The aim of the piece is to call to mind various rhythms that intersect the San Francisco Bay,” he says. “The pulsing light and sound of the sculpture point to the navigational aids, bridges, and other structures we’ve put into the bay to assist our travel. I hope they will also evoke the natural rhythm of tides and sunrises and weather changes, and our own biological rhythms.”

Signal: Daily, Sept. 22–Dec. 2022, free, western edge of Treasure Island near the restaurant Mersea,

‘Actions Vent Ascending Frequencies,’ by Assume Vivid Astro Focus 

Fort Mason’s Center for Arts & Culture (FMCAC) presents Actions Vent Ascending Frequencies, a combination roller rink and art installation experience brought to San Francisco by the art platform Assume Vivid Astro Focus (AVAF). The beautiful, vibrant surface design of the roller skating rink blends psychedelic art and color fields to create a pop-up art installation reminiscent of disco-driven skate sites.

Skate culture has a rich history of creating community. “Roller skating brings people together,” says Eli Sudbrack, founder of AVAF. “Living in such polarizing times, it’s important that my practice helps unite people.”

Sudbrack founded AVAF in 2001, and began working with Christophe Hamaide Pierson in 2005 as a duo that often morphs into a collective for select projects. AVAF has created many installations worldwide and confronts issues related to gender, politics, and embedded cultural codes using pop images and neon colors. Local roller-skating organizations the Church of 8 Wheels and Bay Area Derby are partnering with FMCAC to produce and operate the rink. They will provide rink hosts, D.J.s and special programming throughout the duration of the project. 

Actions Vent Ascending Frequencies draws together images of liberation and an activity of freedom-skating-to create a new meeting space out of a parking lot,” says Frank Smigiel, director of arts programming and partnerships at FMCAC. “I fully expect AVAF’s intervention to transform our inert asphalt into something fabulous.”

This installation was originally presented in New York City’s Central Park for the 2004 Whitney Biennial and has more recently appeared at Faena Art in Buenos Aires in 2014 and at Miami’s Art Basel in 2015. A new version of this project will also appear in Hamburg later this year.

Actions Vent Ascending Frequencies: Wed.–Thu. noon–8 p.m., Friday noon–10 p.m., Saturday noon–8 p.m., Sunday 10 a.m.–6 p.m., Sept. 13–Oct. 6; free (skate rental $5; advance reservations encouraged), Fort Mason Center for Arts & Culture, 2 Marina Blvd., 415-345-7500,


Sharon Anderson is an artist and writer in Southern California. She can be reached at

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