A stunning new media installation illuminates Chicago’s West Loop. 150 Media Stream is a multi-faceted achievement in art, architecture and technology that celebrates the transformative power of art as a collective experience. This digital art installation explores the interplay of art, space and viewership in both public and private contexts.
Commissioned by Riverside and curated by Creative Director Yuge Zhou, 150 Media Stream spans the lobby of 150 North Riverside Plaza, a shimmering cantilevered glass tower alongside the Chicago River. Creative agency Leviathan was brought on to engineer and integrate the content delivery system. Along with Digital Kitchen, the team brought the project from concept to vibrant completion.
The design features 89 vertical video elements, dubbed “blades” and varying in height and width, each covered in tight-pitch LED. Blades range from three to 15 inches wide and six to 22 feet tall. Including the negative space between each blade, the virtual canvas measures roughly 3,000 square feet.
The narrow building footprint and lobby demanded innovative design and engineering. Requirements for the digital art experience were well beyond existing technologies, so McCann Systems engineered, fabricated and integrated the blades along with the infrastructure to support it. One challenge of the project was sourcing the display equipment and playback components.
Technologies required to bring this design to life were beyond current off-the-shelf capabilities. The McCann Team worked to architect a custom, reliable system to feed the equivalent of four 4K video feeds operating at 60 frames per second across the blades.
Early in the process, McCann Systems and Digital Kitchen conceived and rendered the physical aspects of the installation—even the very first renderings packed a powerful visual punch. The Leviathan team took that preview of the installation a step further, developing a virtual model to view the designs on VR platform Oculus Rift.
The 150-foot long installation doesn’t stand; it floats. The three-inch thick extruded aluminum frames that house the LED blades attach to back-mounted brackets affixed to the building’s 13-foot concrete base wall. As a result, the entire display appears to be suspended in air, weightless and reaching skyward to the wall-to-wall glass windows above.
Content for 150 Media Stream sets the installation apart. Rather than populate these blades with meaningless corporate content, Riverside created an exciting arts and cultural experience within the building, featuring competitively selected collaborative works by exceptional art educators and students.
The 150 Media Stream Arts Program seeks to unite Chicago arts, culture and higher education. Igniting discussion, inviting deeper perspective and providing a truly representative, high-visibility platform for a dynamic cross-section of new or undiscovered Chicago visionaries, storytellers and creators.
"A engaging platform for public art that allows for continuous change. The jury appreciated the translucency of the considered spacing and height changes the form allows for."
"This well-deliberated LED application plays with the abstraction of lines in different lengths to generate a vivid pattern people follow when passing by. But it’s the commissioned content that makes it rich."
McCann Team: Frank McCann (direction); Mark Evans (lregional team leader); Anthony Dimino, Ryan Reviello, and Michael Rosa (regional team)
Leviathan Team: Chad Hutson (executive producer); Jason White (executive creative director); Bradon Webb (senior creative director, content developer); Ellen Schopler (senior producer); Adam Berg (director of research and engineering, UX design); David Braun, Chris Hall (lead engineer); Austin Mayer (web CMS director, UX design); Billie Pate (UX design); Fujio Harou (web developer); Gareth Fewel, Alexis Copeland (content development, 2-D design/animation); Anthony Malagutti (content development), Ely Beyer, Nik Braatz, Andrew Butterworth, Jesse Willis, Matt Burton, Becka Riccio, Yuan Chen, Dakota Hopkins (2-D design/animation); Kirill Mazor (editor); Scott Pagano, Elburz Sorkhabi, Mary Franck (engineers)