ETC Mosaic breathes life into Art on theMART

Date Posted: 12/17/2018

Located on the Chicago River, the Merchandise Mart (now known as theMART) has long been an iconic building to Chicago natives and tourists. Home to many boutiques and businesses, the building is so large that it had its own zip code until 2008. The location and size of theMART made it an ideal canvas for the largest digital art projection in the world—and ETC’s Mosaic controls were the clear choice to frame the artwork.

Set to be the longest-running and largest digital art projection, Art on theMART displays a curated series of artworks across 2.5 acres of theMART’s river-facing exterior. San Francisco-based design firm Obscura designed and implemented the permanent projection system for the art pieces, while Gwen Grossman Lighting Design designed the lighting around the entire building, in addition to lighting that accompanies the art show. GGLD partnered closely with distributor and system integrator Protolight and electrical contractor Titan Electric to handle the architectural lighting and controls that would synchronize with the videos.

“We were confident that the controls for the color changing façade lighting would seamlessly integrate with the projection media system. Protolight was instrumental in helping GGLD specify Mosaic for this high profile project at theMART,” says Gwen Grossman of GGLD.

ETC’s Mosaic in use on theMART

Mosaic is now the brain behind the lighting on all four sides of the building, starting at the 16th floor and extending to the 24th floor, including roof installations. The system is controlling more than 600 Lumenpulse exterior LED fixtures. Chris Prezas of Protolight says they frequently use Mosaic on permanent architectural installations “because of its reliability, flexibility, and user friendliness for clients who need to make changes down the road.”

Mosaic provides a reliable control system for everyday architectural looks, but also offers flexibility and power to integrate lighting systems into art displays.

Initially, this project didn’t call for timecode synchronization, but SMPTE timecode became a critical need. Adding a Mosaic Remote Input Module made it easy.  The team was able to synchronize GGLD’s architectural lighting cues and timelines with the projected designs. The projection team can also take complete control of the architectural lighting when appropriate.

ETC’s Mosaic in use on theMART

KSA Lighting, the representative for both ETC and Lumenpulse in the Midwest, was a key partner for GGLD and Protolight, providing sample products and demonstrations during the planning of this massive installation.

Knowing there is a 30-year agreement between the City of Chicago and owners of theMART for the art installation, the system is in it for the long haul.  “With Mosaic in place, we know that the architectural lighting system will hold up over many years,” says Joel Furmanek for KSA Lighting. “The system won’t limit creativity for future changes.”

Images courtesy of Obscura Digital