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San Jose Semaphore


four 10' x 10' custom LED panels

Artist: Ben Rubin

Adobe Almaden Tower, South Almaden Boulevard, San Jose, CA, USA

From its position atop Adobe’s Almaden Tower, Semaphore's four glowing wheels are a beacon on the San Jose skyline. As the wheels slowly turn and come to rest, they send a message that is visible for miles. Like the semaphore telegraphs of the 18th century, the artwork is a machine that uses visible symbols — the positions of its wheels — to slowly transmit information. But even though the Semaphore is broadcasting its message in plain sight, the contents of the message remain a mystery until solved.

San José Semaphore, by artist Ben Rubin, is a permanent public artwork commissioned by Adobe Systems Incorporated in collaboration with the City of San Jose’s Office of Cultural Affair’s Public Art Program. Located within the top floors of Adobe’s Almaden Tower headquarters in San José, California, San José Semaphore is a multi-sensory kinetic artwork that illuminates the San José skyline with the transmission of a coded message. Cracking the coded message is posed as a challenge for the public. San José Semaphore’s four ten-foot wide illuminated disks rotate every 7.2 seconds, engaging viewers with a steady, glowing, and purposefully moving presence. The artwork’s illuminated disks perform a kind of mechanical dance as a method of communication. A low-power radio broadcast provides a soundtrack that is audible within 2-3 blocks of the Almaden Tower on AM 1680. An online simulcast provides a way to see and hear the piece remotely.

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