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Illuminating the imagination

Swatches | October 1, 2019 | By:

Held each year in New York, The Armory Show is an art fair and cultural destination designed to showcase unique, exciting 20th and 21st century art. At the March 2019 show, artist Leo Villareal captivated patrons with an LED installation. Photos: Pace Gallery, Leo Villareal and The Armory Show.

Light artist Leo Villareal likes to focus on underlying structures and rules to understand how they work. Interested in simple forms such as pixels and the zeros and ones in binary code, Villareal often starts with a simple form that he builds upon to create movement and complex interactions that create a rich environment in which emergent behavior can occur without a preconceived outcome. 

Villareal’s work “Star Ceiling” epitomized this idea. Presented in partnership with Pace Gallery at the 2019 edition of the Armory Show in New York,the artwork created was a 75-foot-long immersive LED installation on the ceiling of the passageway linking Piers 92 and 94. Exploring the strain between the rational and the transcendent, “Star Ceiling” was a monochromatic field of light that undulated to create the sense of stars, galaxies and other cosmic phenomena. 

For the installation, New York Tent, Bohemia, N.Y., provided a custom hard wall system combined with black vinyl to create a blackout space for this installation. The company also created custom angled turns throughout that allowed for curving the tent as needed on the site and placing custom black vinyl marquee entries in close proximity to the pier doors. 

“Star Ceiling” was the largest digital-media artwork ever presented in the Armory Show’s 25-year history. For more information, visit

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