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Artist's Corner: George Berlin

The last ACTIVATE of 2015 is this Friday. Get ready for an immersive urban art experience in the Loop’s Harrison Street Alley, located on Harrison Street between Michigan Ave. and Wabash Ave. 

Curator George Berlin shares his inspiration and what to expect at Friday's event. 

Describe the work that will appear at ACTIVATE on October 23.

ACTIVATE will be all about light and lightness. We'll be lighting up the entire alley—with projections, light sculptures, hundreds of feet of lights, and fun light-based games and toys to play with.

Most of the art will be ephemeral, like life itself. Here today and flip a switch—it's gone! Enjoy it while you can, limited time offer. We'll make you a rock star for the night on your own light-up stage. Happy and fun projections that have no message other than "enjoy yourself." Huge cubes of light suspended to amuse and amaze.

What inspired you to create an event focused on light? Did you explore other themes?

I explored several themes for this show, from simply "playing" to using nothing except light, but felt that "light and lightness" were things the world needs very much right now—especially lightness!

Everywhere we turn, from the inner cities to the far reaches of the world, we find hate and darkness as people hurt one another over the smallest things. Many things in life are very serious— but sometimes they're taken far too seriously. We can all use a little levity.

What has been the most challenging aspect of presenting artwork in such an unconventional space?

The greatest challenge in working with the space is seeing beyond the surfaces of it to create something entirely new- and to create it in a way that can appear for a night and disappear again. How do we make an often overlooked place beautiful again, or bring out the beauty that is already there? Light changes everything!

What impact are you hoping to create with your art? Are there any certain emotions or message(s) you’re trying to send across?

I want my work to make people smile, to let them forget their troubles for a night—even forget where they are entirely! Being dazzled by a light-filled operatic aria in such an unexpected setting tends to take someone right out of their own time and space.

We've all forgotten how important play is—let's bring it back!

What is the process of creating a projection map like?

Projection mapping is the art of designing visuals and space to complement one another. Building a place into a mesmerizing, light-filled vessel for wonderment. My favorite part is using it to make all the world into art—sculptures, cars, walls, even ordinary cardboard boxes can be transformed into magical receptacles of fun! All it takes is imagination and turning your view around a bit.

Where do you find inspiration for your art? What other artists do you look up to either now or while you were growing up?

I find my inspiration in neon signs, animated cartoons, bright shiny art, nature, and by remembering that one day as a kid when I had nothing more important to do than chase a Monarch butterfly around for an hour. 

Is there anything else you would like to add? 

I'd like to dedicate this ACTIVATE to my sister Phyllis, whom I've very recently lost in a military accident since I began curating it. She had the heart of a true adventurer and was one of the lightest people I've ever met. 

Location: Harrison Street Alley


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