The latest major addition to Seattle Art Museum won’t even require patrons to enter the building. On March 24, SAM debuts Mirror, a permanent video project by Doug Aitken displayed on giant LED screens on the building’s facade. Northwest scenes fill two screens—one on First Avenue (70’ x 120’) and the other on Union Street (60’ x 120’)—with long, thin vertical LED columns extending above and below the screens to give the slightest hint of an even larger picture.
Aitken shot and edited hundreds of hours of footage from within a hundred-mile radius of Seattle. The footage won’t simply be on a loop either. Mirror will blend art and technology to adapt to the building’s surroundings. A computer program will monitor environmental triggers like the seasons, weather, and traffic and the footage displayed will adjust accordingly. “Aitken is fascinated by this idea of having a work that is always changing,” says SAM’s modern and contemporary art curator Catharina Manchanda, “because so much of permanent installations come to a point where people take them for granted.” SAM has yet to set the hours or operation for Mirror, but the hope is to have it project images daily from morning until (very) late in the evening.
SAM unveils Mirror this Sunday at 6:30 with members of Seattle Symphony Orchestra performing works by minimalist composers Terry Riley and Steve Reich that synch up with Mirror visuals. Advancecd tickets to the outdoor street party have sold out, but a limited number may be available online Friday at seattleartmuseum.org. Additionally, museum admission will be free for the entire day.
The Mirror project has been in development for over four years, ever since SAM’s building expansion. One man who spearheaded the project was Bagley Wright, who became enamored with Aitken’s art. For Manchanda, Mirror not only will help people identify that the building is an art museum, but push forward some of SAM’s ideas.
“What I find appealing about this particular project is how it communicates to the outside world that the museum is firmly committed to contemporary artistic practices,” Manchanda says. “It extends the contemporary conversation beyond the confines of the building.”
Mirror Unveiling and Street Party
Mar 24 at 6:30, Seattle Art Museum, advanced tickets sold out