Posted by on June 6, 2012

Living in LA, my car is like a second home. In a busy workweek I can spend more waking hours in my car than in my apartment. Generally I love to drive. I like going where I need to go yes, but I do love the journey more. At the same time, I hate a commute. I don’t like to drive the same road over and over and over. I live close enough to work that I can take a different set of surface streets every day.

Given that we have such a car culture, I am surprised that there is not more art about traffic, about the experience of driving. There are books and movies and photography series about driving and road trips, but not a lot of sculpture or installation art.

I did find two nice examples.

This is Traffic Light Tree by Pierre Vivant. It is in a roundabout in London, and the lights blink in unpredictable ways. Vivant has a few other pieces using traffic signs and signals, but this is the coolest one.

This piece is Roadworks by Paul Sorey. It is installed in the Pierce County Road Operations Central Maintenance Facility in Spanaway, WA. It’s pretty awesome that they have an original sculpture in the lobby of a pretty random government building.

The steel structure represents roadways, and the small boxes within the steel armature contain small LEDs which represent individual cars.

According to Sorey, “The sculpture is an abstraction of a roadway system with side streets and arterials… to convey the motion of vehicles along the roads. A randomly varying number of vehicles are present on the system at one time, and each vehicle has its own behavior which the viewer can appreciate over time.”

Although the piece doesn’t physically resemble roads or cars, it is a beautiful representation of traffic patterns.

Do you have any examples of traffic art to add to my list?


Traffic Light Tree photo from here, Roadworks photos from here

3 Responses to Traffic

  1. amy h

    The circles in the second work remind me of this video I was just watching yesterday (it’s super short, but interesting): It would be cool if the lights lit up according to the actual algorithms of traffic.

    • Sarah

      That video is cool – we used to call that effect “the I-225 slinky” back in Denver. It is kind of great to see how quickly it develops, even when everyone is really trying to drive the same speed.
      The Traffic Light Tree was actually supposed to light up in response to stock market fluctuations (it is in a financial area), but that was scrapped after it proved cost prohibitive over time.

  2. Em {pushups with polish}

    haha i am from LA and was just visiting this past weekend! the traffic kills!!!!!!!!! so happy i get to take public transportation to work now! 2 hours in the car, killed meeeee!