THE LOOP — A new art installation by one of the makers behind Blue Man Group went up in front of the Chicago Cultural Center Tuesday — and it just might be enough to shake Chicagoans out of their early morning commuting daze.
The display combines lights and sound for an interactive experience creator Bill Swartz hopes will "break up everybody's routine."
Titled "Busstopulum" (pronounced "bus-stop-puh-lum"), the piece weaves LED lighting and Blue Man Group's signature white PVC pipes around a bus shelter on Michigan Avenue. The piece is interactive and responsive; viewers are encouraged to slap the pipes to make sounds, and the lighting is reactive.
"This morning, there were a bunch of people getting ready for the morning commute, standing outside the bus stop when we were finishing up and just waiting to sit down," the Chicago native who's worked for Blue Man Group since 2000, said in an interview.
"One lady walked up and just kind of looked at it for a while, didn't know what to do, and then she finally sat down, and the lights went on, and she jumped back about six inches," he said. "That's the reaction I was looking for."
Swartz says he was approached by JCDecaux, which manages Chicago's bus shelter advertising, about using display space Blue Man Group had leased "for art, instead of just a poster."
Swartz, who moved to New York two years ago, used extra hexagonal LED panels from light-up suits worn in the New York show to light the sculpture. When it's dismantled in a month, they'll be woven back into a suit for the show.
The piping and other components of the installation will likely be reassembled in the lobby of the Briar Street theater, Swartz said. Staff from Chicago's Blue Man Group will be responsible for maintaining the installation and disassembling it in August.