The Pardall Tunnel: Meaning Behind Light Installation

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The “BlueNite” event was led by the UCSB and Isla Vista community in which they all held blue LED lights and “walked in peace” to the Perfect Park Memorial in downtown Isla Vista.

Before May 23 of 2014, the Pardall Tunnel represented a walk way for pedestrians to make their way into Isla Vista. The tragedy that happened on May 23, 2014 consisted of a 22- year old who took the lives of six UCSB students due to the lack of attention women gave him throughout his life. A year later as a tribute to the lives that were lost that night, the Pardall Tunnel “uniquely” lit up. The community was called BLUNITE; they were inspired to add lights to the tunnel due to their vision of helping IV residents come together as a whole once again and show their solidarity through light, after aa serious of darkness. (The UCSB Current 2015)

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Many people walked through the Pardall tunnel in memory of those six UCSB students lives that were lost.

The Pardall light installation idea came from Kim Yasuda, an art professor at UCSB, who wanted to “illuminate” Isla Vista. Along with Kim Yasuda, Marcos Novak of the Media Arts and Technology program, also contributed to the new design of the tunnel. The light installation was inspired to serve the Isla Vista community as a campus memorial and has become a permanent feature of the campus.

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A year later, May 23, 2015 the UCSB and Isla Vista community come together for the Candlelight and March to mourn the victims.

A year later as a tribute to the lives that were lost that night, the Pardall Tunnel “uniquely” lit up. Now the tunnel has a significant meaning behind it; the Pardall Tunnel now has sensors and LED bulbs that “illuminate people as they walk or bike” through the bridge in which holds a remembrance to those six UCSB students that were killed that night. (KEYT 2015)

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Photo of Pardall Tunnel during the night time.

As I walk through the tunnel I wonder if the only reason for these lights to be installed was as a remembrance, what if they were put there for another reason? Tunnels aren’t safe at night especially if you can’t see anything. I have to look into that. The particular tunnel helps us remember the lives of students that where lost that day and how united the UCSB community is to have done so much to make sure that the lives of the six students would never be forgotten. Lights, according to Joanna Swett’s poem, “What Does Light Represent?” are a representation of an opening to a dark cave. Personally, I believe that it could not fit the tunnel any better. Before when the tunnel did not have lights it served as a dark cave, now that the lights have been added there is light while walking through the tunnel at night it is no longer dark. As I talked to students that are aware of the tunnel and the reasons as to why the lights were installed they all seemed to conclude that they served as both a memorial and safety precaution for those out late at night in IV (Isla Vista).

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Students gathered for a candlelight vigil on the University of California Santa Barbara campus May 24, 2014 to remember those killed Friday night during a rampage in nearby Isla Vista.

The purpose for the tunnel is that it symbolizes/represents the six UCSB lives that were lost and also the community. The reason as to why the tunnel portrays the community is because of the light installation; it was inspired by the 2014 student candlelight vigil that consisted of 5000 participants a couple days after the tragic incident that took place in Isla Vista near the UCSB campus.

Collective memory really comes into place when it comes to memorials like these, in which they hold a significant representation of something tragic that has happened or taken place around the community, such as the Pardall Tunnel. In the excerpt called “What is Collective Memory?” Dee Britton states, “Sites of violent tragedy are sanctified when society transforms a previously profane site to sacred status. A sanctified site is a public place that is reserved for the memory of a specific person or group of people; there is typically a durable marker that has been officially ordained during some form of dedication ceremony;” which relates to the Pardall tunnel and its meaning behind why people remember the tragic day. For instance, as Britton states how people turn a normal site to something that means a lot more, once it gets turned into a memorial.

For more information on the one year anniversary of the Isla Vista shooting and the connection the Pardall tunnel light installation has to it click here.