ML - Michigan Avenue

Michigan Avenue - 2016 - Issue 2 - Late Spring - Anna Chlumsky

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Page 148 of 191  143 PhotograPhy Courtesy of the Wabash Lights SEE THE LIGHT A gritty stretch of the Loop is being trAnsformed with new interActive instALLAtion the wAbAsh Lights. With El trains rumbling overhead and a hodgepodge of businesses lining the darkened street below, Wabash Avenue lacks the glam- our of its Loop neighbors Michigan Avenue and State Street. To Jack Newell, though, that's its appeal. "Wabash gets a bad rap," says Newell, a director who heads Second City's TV, Film & Digital program. "But it's the quintessen- tial [Chicago] street." It also inspired him and collaborator Seth Unger to embark on one of the most ambitious public-art projects in Chicago history: The Wabash Lights. Comprised of more than 5,000 LED light tubes underneath the El tracks between Lake and Van Buren, the installation is designed to be interactive and program- mable, enabling anyone to use the lights as a canvas for expression. "The idea is to do something that is actually of the public, by the public," says Newell of the project, which he estimates will take five years and $5 million to complete. With the lights in beta test mode after a successful Kickstarter fund, Newell and Unger recently flipped the switch on a 12-foot section of lights between Monroe and Adams—a small but thrilling step forward for the duo's public- art passion project. "When we turned it on, we were like, 'Oh, wow, this is cool,'" says Newell. "This actually works." . space real estate & Design

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