BOSTON — An artist who helped spark a terror scare in Boston in 2007 by placing lighted devices around the city as part of a marketing stunt for a cartoon movie has been asked to stage one of the centerpieces of the city’s annual New Year’s celebrations.
Peter Berdovsky, 33, has been contracted by First Night Boston to stage a $50,000 light show for the 2014 celebration.
“I’m honored to have a chance to pay back to the city of Boston through my projection and light art,” Berdovsky told the Boston Herald for a story Wednesday. “This will hopefully give everyone a chance to celebrate our unity. We are a great city. Let’s remember that, and be unified in our voice.”
It’s a far cry from January 2007 when Berdovsky and another man hung 40 lighted boards around the city and suburbs to promote the Cartoon Network’s “Aqua Teen Hunger Force” movie.
While similar displays in other cities went virtually unnoticed, Boston earned widespread ridicule for its response — with police closing bridges, roads and public transit for hours before authorities realized the signs showing a cartoon character making an obscene gesture were a publicity stunt.
Mayor Thomas Menino at the time called the display “outrageous” and a “nitwit technique,” but even the mayor has softened the tone.
“The mayor is confident in the choice of artists and the program selections for the evening,” Menino spokesman John Guilfoil said.
Berdovsky and his partner were at first charged with placing a hoax device in a way that causes panic and disorderly conduct. But the charges were dropped when they agreed to community service.
On First Night, Berdovsky’s Zebbler Studios will project video of iconic city scenes onto the facade of the Boston Public Library, a process called “video mapping.” The project is being funded by private donations.
Christopher Cook, the city’s director of Arts, Tourism & Special Events, who oversees First Night, praised Berdovsky.
“At this point, we just recognize him as one of the premier video artists in the country,” Cook said. “The hiccup six years ago was that, a hiccup. … They were new to it, and we were new to it. Since that time he’s established himself as a legitimate businessman and artist.”