Contact: Cara Egan,
SAM Public Relations
Seattle Art Museum Unveils MIRROR by Doug Aitken on March 24, 2013
Free public celebration planned to launch new art installation for Seattle Art Museum façade
MIRROR Happening and Unveiling
March 24, 2013
SEATTLE, March 24, 2013 – SEATTLE--Today the Seattle Art Museum (SAM) invites the community to the inauguration of MIRROR, a permanent art installation for the façade of SAM by artist Doug Aitken that will become a new landmark in downtown Seattle.
To celebrate this important new work, Aitken is curating a "Happening"that will feature an afternoon of conversations inside the museum that explore the dynamics of change in contemporary culture followed by an unprecedented series of performances outside on First Avenue that will feature musicians from the Seattle Symphony Orchestra playing works by legendary minimalist composers Terry Riley and Steve Reich. First Avenue in front of the museum will be closed and food trucks and other activities will take place throughout the afternoon and evening. The museum will also offer free admission and open extended hours (10 a.m. - 9 p.m.) on March 24.
"There is no doubt that MIRROR will transform First Avenue and Union Street creating a new crossroads for downtown Seattle," said Kimerly Rorschach, SAM Director. "Doug is one of the most exciting artists working today and it is thrilling to anticipate the response from the community to this work that is all about reflecting this extraordinary place where we live. It is a magnificent gift to the city from Bagley Wright who with his wife, Virginia, have made such an incredible impact on the life and culture of Seattle."
"With MIRROR I was interested in the idea of creating a living museum, a downtown building that could change in real time in relation to the environment around it. It‘s like an urban earthwork. Seattle is a very complex and fascinating city and MIRROR was an attempt to reflect the simultaneity of the culture and landscape you find there," said Aitken.
Aitken, who is based in Los Angeles and New York, has been featured in numerous solo and group exhibitions around the world including institutions such as the TATE Liverpool, Carnegie International, The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), and the Centre Pompidou in Paris. Aitken’s "Sleepwalkers" exhibition at MoMA in 2007 transformed an entire block of Manhattan into an expansive cinematic experience as he covered the museum’s exteriorwalls with projections. Last year, he unveiled "SONG 1", a work that illuminated the entire façade of the Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum’s iconic cylindrical building, transforming it with seamlessly projected moving images and an urban soundscape. Urban topographies and the rhythms and movements of large cities have inspired Aitken throughout his career. MIRROR for SAM will be his first permanent installation for a public museum.
The expansion of the Seattle Art Museum was completed in 2007 and designed by Brad Cloepfil of Allied Works which is based in Portland, OR and New York. The expansion seamlessly connected the 1991 Robert Venturi designed building and more than doubled the museum’s public and exhibition space on its prominent site in the heart of downtown Seattle. This is the third project that Aitken has installed for a project by designed by Allied Works.
MIRROR, is a gift of the late philanthropist and community leader, Bagley Wright, who commissioned the work for SAM’s collection before his death in 2011. Mr. Wright, along with his wife, Virginia, was a legendary arts patron and a celebrated collector of modern and contemporary art.
For MIRROR, Aitken has employed the architecture of SAM’s building to reflect the energy and movement of the city. As a kind of living kaleidoscope, MIRROR consists of a monumental LED display that wraps around the northwest corner of the museum’s building. The main component is a glass-covered horizontal band of images which dissolve into narrow columns of light that run up and down the façade in a dynamic configuration. Movement and energy from its surroundings allow the images that move across the work’s surface to expand and collapse as the building encounters and senses change.
Aitken filmed hundreds of hours of footage throughout Seattle and Washington State including the urban environment just around the museum. Images, surfaces, locations and landscapes were filmed with a slow eye; moving images were reduced to their essence, footage of minimal compositions as well as views of both empty landscapes and dense urban scenes of the Northwest were captured.
MIRROR will be an ever-changing representation of the fluctuations of the city itself. The character of the façade will be constantly shaped and informed by the environment of Seattle. Weather information, pedestrian traffic, atmospheric conditions, traffic density and more will be used to program and shape the animation of the display in unexpected ways. This mapping of the landscape and the surroundings feeds into the building, which sequences it live.
"I was interested if the work can move on its own and constantly create its own sequences, patterns and composition. Like a minimalist musical composition," said Aitken. "However, the work must generate its own tempos and patterns feeding off the landscape, movement, temperature, light or darkness, wind or many other live organic things around it. Like choreography with no music, the images are left to define the composition and patterns live, today, tomorrow and into the future."
MIRROR Project Team
Doug Aitken Workshop, Artist
LMN Architects, Architect
David Bianchardi, AV&C, Hardware & Software Design
Alex Czertwertynski, Hardware & Software Design
Sellen Construction, General Contractor
Nelson Electric, Curtainwall
Nelson Electric Electrical Contractor
Barco, LED manufacturer
Maryann Jordan, Vice Director, SAM, Project Manager
Michael Darling, Chief Curator, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Curator
Catharina Manchanda, Jon & Mary Shirley Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, SAM, Curator