RTA's New Red Line Rapid Station Public Art

click to enlarge RTA's New Red Line Rapid Station Public Art
Paul Sobota Photography

Emergence is a new public art project by Jessica Langley and Andy Curlowe at the RTA’s Cedar-University Red Line Rapid Transit Station. The interactive, digital mural is comprised of 11 panels and more than 6500 LED lights. The title refers to both the multiplicity of cultures within Cleveland and University Circle, as well as the form of the work itself. The title also alludes to the concept of how complex systems arise out of relatively simple interactions.

"This has been a great experience in collaboration,” says Langley. “As two independent studio artists, it was really fun to think about intersections in our work and how that can manifest in a project entirely different from either of our usual outputs, as well as something that exists long term in a public space."

The work features a number of infrared sensors, which are triggered by the motion of visitors as they pass by the screen. The panels feature blue and white LED lights. The blue area at the top of the work represents Lake Erie, while the white denotes the shoreline of Northern Ohio.

As each person walks by, the sensors illuminate the person’s “shadow” with the LED lights. With enough participants, all 6500+ lights can be illuminated.

"Seeing the public experience it for the first time is really rewarding,” adds Langley. “In documenting the project, I observed a couple make the discovery of the interactive element. They began playing with it immediately, dancing in front of it. It is such a different way to use the space, different from its intended function as a waiting area, or a space which one passes through."

The work is intended to represent the energy of the city and its inhabitants. The work’s interactive nature requires viewers to take an active role in the experience.

"We wanted to make a work that embodied the community of University circle for the RTA,” explains Curlowe. “Emergence reflects the arts, diversity, liveliness and technology of University circle. We wanted to celebrate these themes in medium of the LEDs. The interactive component allows the viewer to engage with it and the city they live in."

Jessica Langley received her B.F.A. from the Cleveland Institute of Art, before getting her M.F.A. from Virginia Commonwealth University. She currently lives and works in New York City. Andy Curlowe attended Montserrat College of Art in Beverly, MA before Case Western Reserve University. He’s found a lot of inspiration in Cleveland since moving here with his wife Laura. Curlowe recently completely a residency at SPACES that culminated with his project, What if This City Was a Mountain?, in which Curlowe created a 3D model of Cleveland as a mountain using maps and topographical information.
To view Emergence, take the RTA Rapid RED LINE to the Cedar-University Rapid Station between 5 p.m. and 8 a.m.
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