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Salesforce Tower Display to be ‘Blood Red River’ for Halloween

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The tallest building in San Francisco is once again lighting up with Halloween spirit.  Light artist Jim Campbell, the creator of the Salesforce Tower’s massive light installation, is projecting ‘ a blood red river’ as the theme for 2020’s Halloween night, a spokeswoman for Campbell told us this week.

In 2018 and 2019 the tower was famously transformed into the ‘Eye of Sauron’, a concept that tens of thousands of San Franciscans supported in the form of an online petition in 2018 by designer Red Rainey, and then again in 2019 by art student Megan Mackey.

This year we suggested that in honor of the worst year in recent history, which included a global pestilence, a deep undermining of democracy here and abroad, massive wildfires and drought, and the death of a fair and balanced Supreme Court, that the tower should just say, “AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!” on repeat until the election is over, but that suggestion was probably too on the nose for the artist and his team.

There are several possible inspirations for a ‘blood red river’ this year, one could be the Phlegethon from Dante’s Inferno, described as a river of blood that boils souls, in the ‘Seventh Circle of Hell’.  Dante’s blood river apparently punishes those who committed crimes of violence against their fellow men like murderers, tyrants, and Trumps (for example).   Other rivers like the ‘Styx’ in Dante’s Inferno, punish the wrathful and slothful ect. ect.

Dante and Virgil cross the river ‘Styx’ with the help of the infernal ferryman Phlegyas.  Art by Johannes Stradanus.

Phlegethon, it should be noted, originally comes from Greek mythology, and it refers to a river of fire in the ancient underworld.  This concept of a burning river has been referenced in literature throughout the ages, by everyone from Plato, to John Milton (Paradise Lost) to Edgar Allan Poe’s (Descent into the maelstrom).  And now by Jim Cambpell on top of the 1,070 foot Salesforce Tower in San Francisco.

Another inspiration could be the river of slime in Ghostbusters 2, a river that was fueled by the negativity of New Yorkers and controlled by a real creep named Vigo the Carpathian.   You can be sure that the film’s writers Harold Ramis and Dan Aykroyd heard of old Phlegethon.

It should be noted that Salesforce is only the wealthy tenant of the tower, it’s Boston Properties that actually owns and runs the property, and it’s cool of them to let artists like Campbell (and many other artists) have the run of the place.

We’re told that California College of the Arts Students will again takeover the tower’s display  this year, so watch for that too.

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Alex Mak - Managing Editor

Alex Mak - Managing Editor

I'm the managing editor here at Broke-Ass Stuart. I enjoy covering Bay Area News as well as writing about Arts, Culture & Nightlife (not so much nightlife anymore).

If you're a writer, artist, or performer who would like to get your work out there, or if you've got a great product or service to promote, we've got 120k social followers and really fun ways to reach them. We make noise for our partners, and for our community. alex at brokeassstuart.com

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