ESI Design "Paints" 515 North State

ESI Design "Paints" 515 North State

At 515 North State, ESI Design transformed the building’s lobby into an eye-catching contemporary art space. Playing off the typical approach of installing an abstract painting in the lobby, ESI Design instead created a unique 14-foot-wide-by-23-foot-tall digital art installation that constantly "paints" new compositions.

Titled “Canvas,” the site-specific work deconstructs original video footage of life in Chicago’s vibrant River North neighborhood into a piece of art that is always evolving. Using custom-designed software, the installation enables locally-shot footage of scenes such as boats on the Chicago River and amusement rides on Navy Pier to dissolve into abstract patterns and then slowly sharpen back into clarity.

“Canvas” has the ability to generate more than 5,000 unique compositions from nearly five hours of initial footage specially shot at 16 locations. The soaring installation is visible from the street through the building’s glass facade, breathing life into the surrounding streetscape and creating a new Chicago attraction by capturing the attention of passersby.

“The daily motion of Chicago ‘paints’ the pictures into place at 515 North State,” describes Ed Purver, senior designer, creative technology at ESI Design. “Our custom software analyzes each video for moving objects, so moments like a person walking, or a car driving become the ‘brushstrokes’ that slowly create each abstraction. As each video collides with the next, new compositions unfold in real time, literally creating thousands of possibilities in this one-of-a-kind evolving digital artwork.”

Other highlights of the 515 North State renovation include a new building ID sign and revamped elevator bays, which feature transparent LCD screens provides up-to-date local information such as weather forecasts, trending Twitter topics and transit alerts. A new palette of red and gray creates focal points throughout the long lobby, from the sculptural ‘pixel-like’ Do Lo Res sofas configured into sectionals to shades of red on the staircase accent wall.

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