For weeks now I’ve been wondering about the weird floating lights I see almost daily from the Manhattan Bridge bike lane down in the East River near Rutgers Slip, and this morning Curbed finally provided the answer: It’s called Amphibious Architecture, a joint project between Columbia’s Graduate School of Architecture, NYU’s Environmental Health Clinic and the Architectural League of New York’s Toward the Sentient City. There’s another installation up on the Bronx River, and the gist of the project is to foster greater exchange between New Yorkers and the waters that surround them.
The floating lights are controlled by submerged censors, which respond to underwater conditions like temperature, pollution levels, visibility and the proximity of fish. The best part of the project, though, is that it allows you to send text messages to the fish! The messaging system is explained somewhat confusingly here, but you basically send certain keywords to 41411 to make the lights change color and the fish, I guess, respond appropriately.