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Thrilling, multimedia art installation transports viewers from Tempe to Times Square


March 12, 2002

TEMPE, Ariz.--Sizzling, saturated colors. Pulsating neon. Chasing, blinking marquee lights. Honking horns. New York’s Times Square comes alive on the Arizona State University campus in Tempe March 28 to May 10 with artist Muriel Magenta’s thrilling, 360-degree, multimedia homage to this urban icon.

The interactive installation will be presented at the Computing Commons Gallery from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays. The gallery is located at the corner of Palm Walk and Orange Street.

Opening day events on Thursday, March 28, begin with an artist’s talk about Times Square by Magenta from 3-4 p.m. in the Computing Commons auditorium. The exhibition opening and reception follow from 4-6 p.m. in the gallery.

“Being at the Times Square installation is like being in the middle of a Surround Sound movie featuring one of the most exciting places on earth,” Magenta says. “It’s quite a spectacle.”

The artist says she has been captivated with Times Square since her childhood. “As a kid growing up in Manhattan, Times Square was the place to visit and fantasize about dreams and ambitions that were so much bigger than I was,” she recalls. “It remains a thrilling place and, as a multimedia artist today, I want to communicate the exuberance I feel about this place, especially the Broadway scene.”

Magenta created the virtual experience in collaboration with artists and technologists from the Institute for Studies in the Arts, an interdisciplinary research center in ASU’s Herberger College of Fine Arts for which she is an artist-in-residence. ISA staff designed and edited digital animation, audio and video, programmed digital video games designed by Magenta for the installation, and assisted with multimedia design and computer graphics.

“The combination of talent and technology at the ISA gave us the unique ability to be the hub for this project and merge its many facets into one complete, multimedia installation,” says Gene Cooper, a media developer for the ISA.

ISA staff also fabricated the installation. “Our production team was responsible for the physical realization of Muriel’s vision in the gallery space,” says Kelly Phillips, a senior ISA technologist. “We covered every wall surface with mirrors, built projection screens and set up projectors that would allow her animated world to come to life. (Technologist) David Lorig also constructed a light sculpture to highlight one of the central elements of the installation.”

Staff from the Computing Commons Gallery and ASU’s Information Technology Visualization Lab provided additional technical support for the project. CCS Presentation Systems is an equipment sponsor for the installation.

The result of the collaborative efforts is a complete transformation of the 25-by-30-foot gallery space. “With the creativity, inventiveness and ingenuity of the artist-technologists of the ISA, coupled with technology itself, the Computing Commons Gallery space becomes an exciting, multi-sensory experience,” says Barbara Eschbach, gallery director.

As in the actual Times Square, much of the action in the installation takes place above the street. Capturing the drama of the locale’s architecture, 3-D animations projected above eye-level turn skyscrapers into massive Technicolor jewels screaming with lights and billboards featuring Magenta’s art.

“I wanted to rework my own art and fuse it with the Broadway setting and alter Broadway to interlock with my art,” Magenta explains.

The soundtrack recreates life on the street with cacophonous accuracy. A game table sculpture masquerades as one of the area’s many arcades and beckons viewers to experience three Magenta-designed video games. The games play off some of pop culture’s favorite elements of Times Square. In Moment of Fame, viewers create their names in lights on a Broadway billboard. Countdown to Midnight is enhanced by the player’s amplified voice as the famous Times Square ball drops to welcome the New Year. In Hey, Taxi!, players are challenged to hail a New York cab.

Magenta is an artist-in-residence at the ISA and a professor at the School of Art, where she teaches studio courses in digital video and multimedia production. Solo exhibitions of her work have been presented throughout the United States.

EDITORS: To view/download single-frame images from the 3-D animation featured in Times Square, visithttp://herbergercollege.asu.edu/college/news/download_timessquare.html.

The Institute for Studies in the Arts is an interdisciplinary research center in The Katherine K. Herberger College of Fine Arts at Arizona State University. The ISA provides an environment that supports research and collaboration among artists, scholars and technologists. The goal is to invent and share new forms of art experience and processes for creating and teaching the arts. For more information on the ISA, visit http://isa.asu.edu.

Media Contact:
Tracey Benson
480-965-7144
Tracey.Benson@asu.edu