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American, born 1967
Trained as a sculptor, Leo Villareal has been working with light and computer code for more than a decade, creating commanding installations, sculptures, and public projects that are at once enchanting and disorienting. His kinetic works are composed of white or multicolored incandescent, strobe, neon, or LED lights, whose pulsing, flickering, and fading is controlled by computer code that he writes himself. Fascinated by the capability of mathematically defined systems to generate unpredictable sequences, and deeply influenced by Dan Flavin and the systems-based theories of British mathematician John Conway, Villareal plays with our inclination to find patterns in randomness. Claiming that his works are portraits of Conway’s rules, Villareal programs his lights to pulse in non-repeating sequences that simultaneously defy and suggest order. They also suggest natural phenomena—heaving across a rectangular ground like waves, twinkling like stars, or glowing like a setting sun.