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Chicago Public Art: Art on TheMART

Chicago is home to a myriad of stunning public art experiences, where each complement their encompassing environment. In this spirit, the city’s largest work of public art, and the largest permanent digital art project in the world, Art on theMART, embraces its surroundings unlike any other installation in Chicago. 

The now-beloved contemporary art project originated in September of 2018 as more than 30,000 fled to the Chicago Riverwalk to watch the historic Merchandise Mart building transform into a work of art. Following its launch, Art on theMart has hosted nightly projects created by countless artists, ranging from the current exhibitioner Nick Cave to the inaugural artist Jason Salavon

Every evening, 34 projects – sprawled across the Riverwalk itself – help project multiple works of digital art across its 2.5-acre facade. TheMART takes advantage of the latest immersive art technology, using various mapping techniques to ensure every projection fits perfectly to the Art Deco details of theMart. 

While all of the projections showcased at Art on theMART utilize the giant facade of theMart to showcase bright colors and complex imagery to catch the attention of viewers, the installations also comprise bespoke audio elements, creating an even more immersive experience.

Art on theMART, THINKING OF YOU. I MEAN ME. I MEAN YOU, Barabara Kruger

Current exhibitions include explore by Jonas Denzel and Billiken by Shkynna Stewart and Wills Glasspiegel beginning at 9 p.m. and at 9:30, Ba Boom Boom Pa Pop Pop by Nick Cave, running concurrently with the Furthermore installation at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. Only a 15-minute walk from Optima Signature, prime locations to witness the marvelous exhibition are found across the river from theMart on Chicago’s Riverwalk and West Wacker Drive.

Immersive Art: The Fusion Between Art and Technology

Whether you’re in Chicago or Scottsdale, immersive art exhibitions are quickly becoming the latest trend, unveiling a new approach for art lovers to savor their favorite works and artists. What separates these shows from what you would expect to see at a traditional museum or gallery space?

The History of Immersive Art

While immersive art may seem like a new phenomenon to many of us, immersive experiences can be traced back centuries. One of the finest examples can be found in the architecture of the middle ages. Employing stained glass in the construction of churches was often used to create an otherworldly experience for patrons. As natural light floods through each window, colors fill the interior, telling a vibrant visual story.

More recently, thanks to the help of modern technologies that include virtual reality, holography and digital projection, immersive experiences have transformed how we can view works of art, enabling us to explore each piece as a protagonist within it. 

The objective of immersive art lies in entertainment, taking 2D environments and metamorphosing them into 3D worlds often filled with accompanying music. Video projection mapping programmed individually for each immersive environment makes sure that every inch of the space is sure to be covered, further enveloping the audience in the engaging work. 

And while many spaces are utilizing immersive technology to revamp older works, ambitious artists are also constructing their own participatory installations. Yayoi Kusama, a Japanese artist, has been creating immersive work since the 1960s. Kusama’s most famous installation, Infinity Mirror Room—Phalli’s Field, uses dozens of mirrors to augment the perception of the stuffed polka dot sculptures she created, and because of those mirrors, casts the visitor as the work’s subject. 

Infinity Mirror Room—Phalli’s Field, Yayoi Kusama, 1965

Experience A Show For Yourself

Chicago offers a variety of immersive art experiences. Just South of Lincoln Park and within close proximity to Optima Signature and Optima Lakeview at Lighthouse ArtSpace, the Van Gogh, and Frida Kahlo exhibits continue to run throughout the summer, transporting visitors into both of the artist’s worlds. Other, more traditional immersive art experiences include the Museum of Illusions, Sky Shows at the Adler Planetarium, the upcoming Museum of Ice Cream exhibit coming to The Shops at Tribune Tower and the Illinois Holocaust Museum’s onging exhbit, The Journey Back: A VR Expeerience

Scottsdale and Phoenix also offer a variety of engaging installations to choose from. Just walking distance from Optima Sonoran Village is Scottsdale’s Lighthouse Artspace, found in the heart of Old Town Scottsdale, is home to the Immersive Van Gogh and Klimt exhibits scheduled to run through July. Wonderspaces, another extraordinary venue in Scottsdale Fashion Square, features an evolving lineup of interactive installations and signature cocktails.

Immersive art has always been a revolutionary way to interact with different crafts, and thanks to technology, not only is it becoming more innovative but more accessible. With the trend on the rise, there’s sure to be no shortage of immersive art experiences, and we’re excited to see what modernisations come next.

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