Chicago Under the Dome, only through Sunday. The urban visions of Level Chicago 2013

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You have only through Sunday night to see the installations of Level Chicago 2013, at five separate locations along the Chicago.  As we wrote recently, it's a project of L.A. based LERATA (Laboratory for Experimentation and Research in Art, Technology and Architecture) and is intended to be a preview of a far larger project next year.
image courtesy LERATA
The one installation I haven't seen at all is Julio Obelleiro and Wildbytes Building Music, at the plaza of the 2 North Riverside, a/k/a Daily News Building at the river and Madison Street.  It projects images against the blank wall of the Civic Opera Building on the opposite of the river.
What I thought was the Level event at the Daily News Plaza is, instead, Butterflies and Buffalo, which features both the world's largest camera and the images it creates for photographer Dennis ManarchyBandB runs all the way through October 31, so we'll discuss it in a separate post, soon.

The other installations of Level are along a stretch of the river from Michigan Avenue to Clark.
Skip message, by Daniel Sauter + Ketai LLC, is on the lower riverwalk between Clark and Dearborn.  It also features a projection, along the concrete wall that separates the walk from lower Wacker, and it features a mobile phone weblink that allows you to send text to appear on the display.
A block east, between Dearborn and State, there's Sabrina Raaf's Meandering River, based on mathematical equations scientists use to predict a river's morphology.  To create this installation, these snapshots are etched onto thermal material, hung down at the center, and trailing off to bottom and the sides.
The last two installations,  by Daniel Miller, are in abject utility room under lower Wacker near the Bridgehouse Museum.  Site A takes video shot at a suburban site where the world's first nuclear reactor was rebuilt in 1943 and uses a rotating projector to cast the images across all the interior surfaces of the service room.
Perhaps, the most detailed and intriguing of all the installations is Miller's Contained.
In a small, otherwise empty room, under a clear dome, you'll find an incredibly detailed model of Chicago, drawn from images on Google Earth.  Two spare metal arms hold lighting that complete a full rotation every 40 minutes to simulate light from the moon and sun falling on the city throughout the course of a day.  There's even a humidifier to create ‘smog.’ “In this dome I am exploring the closed system that we live in called earth,” writes Miller.  The dome's image is also picked up by a camera that feeds to a video screen just outside the room.
Between the model that is both exact and abstracted, and its sealing beneath the glass dome, in a closed-off room just steps from the actual skyline and the movement of human beings along the walkways, and in cars, buses and boats, Contained captures the mystery that lies between our physical world and the energies and desires that animate it.
If this is what Level can accomplish with just five installations, a full-up version next year could be a very grand thing, indeed.
Level runs through Sunday at the locations on the map below.  Stated time is 6:00 to 10:00 p.m., but it seems that many installations really don't get started until the sun goes down.

Hunting of the Snark(itecture): A Photo Tour of Architecture and Design at Expo Chicago 2013, through Sunday

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Early yesterday afternoon, I made a quick survey of the second annual edition of Expo Chicago, the massive art show in the Festival Hall of Navy Pier, showing work from 120 galleries representing 17 countries and 37 global cities.  (My apologies to all the galleries whose work I photographed while it was still receiving finishing touches.)

Studio/Gang was back again this year designing the exhibition, with its layout patterned after a Chicago street grid lined with exhibition spaces.  Only one of last year's mylar domes returned, the huge reflective piece hovering over the centerpoint of the exhibition space.
New this year - and beneath the dome - is Snarkitecture and Volume Gallery's Bend, “a series of upholstered  foam cylinders that bend, twist, and drape over one another to create a reconfigurable seating environment.  Inhabiting a world between collapse and animation, the elongated cylindrical forms creating a shifting landscape for relaxation.” Or for checking messages on your smartphone.
Snarkitecture also designed this year's Museum of Contemporary Art Pop-Up Store.
. . . a scheme based on a singular modular and flexible millwork unit.  Each piece has a distinctive excavated surface that is cut away to reveal interior shelves for the display of books and objects . . .
The domes that last year marked two other gathering areas were replaced this year with fabric “frustrums”, which both enclosed the area and allow views through them.  The one above the cafe, at the east end, is a white scrim . . .
. . . while the other, at the west end, is an almost turban-like affair that marks the exhibition area and lounge for Expo Video - new this year - which will show videos curated by the Walker Art Center's Dean Otto.
“Natural wood display display stands and log seating define the lounge space without obstructing views to the galleries beyond.”
While you're at the south end, be sure to walk up the stairs to the mezzanine to check out Edgewater's 6018|North's Home, curated by Tricia Van Eck, in which four artists have each made a room for an “artists' home.”  The kitchen . . .
. . . by John Preus and Dilettante Studio, is constructed out of reclaimed cabinetry, and will host performances, workshops and talks curated by SHOP's Laura Shaeffer with John Marciniak.

Lise Haller Baggesen created her own artists' studio . . .

. . . “replete with disco balls, glitter, and glam” for visitors to sit in and “contemplate life as an artist.”  There's also a “chill-out living room” from Sabina Ott, and Jane Jeradi's “performative bedroom [which] presents a captivating space to relax.”

The relationship between art and architecture, of course, is a strong one, and as you walk through the galleries, you'll encounter it repeatedly, from intricately constructed sculptures, architecture captured and transformed through photographs, actual furnished rooms . . .
and even debate, as at the gallery of the Hyde Park Art Center . . .
And if you really like getting your head into art, the National Resources Defense Council has constructed Metropolis by Vaughn Bell . . .
. . . in which you can actually pop up your head into “a large-scale terrarium comprised of acrylic skyscrapers composed of native Midwestern plants and mosses,” creating “an immersive experience that challenges our relationship to the natural world.”
Expo Chicago 2013 runs Friday and Saturday from 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., and Sunday 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.)  Map and information here.  This year also marks the first edition of Expo Art Week, which a large number of related events throughout the city.  Info here.

From Last Year:

Big Shiny Things:  Studio/Gang at Expo Chicago 2012

Flash Mob All-in-White Diner Pops Up in Pioneer Court

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It was like Richard Meier had bled all over Pioneer Court.   The usually underpopulated plaza had become a sea of white - tableclothes, linens, shirts, party dresses and . . . bowling pins.

What gives?
If you were anywhere near the Michigan Avenue bridge Thursday night, you probably saw women in elegant dresses improbably trundling down the street with collapsible tables and folding chairs under their arms, followed by hunter-gatherer males carrying food in everything from classic picnic baskets to see-through plastic bags.  It looked like a man's paradise, with an almost indecently favorable ratio of XX's to XY's.
They all converged on Pioneer Court, set up their tables if they had 'em (this year the event also supplied the furniture), rolled out the tablecloths, laid out the food and candles, and transformed the plaza into the city's largest upscale outdoor dining hall.  Onlookers regarded the scene with a mixture of amusement and astonishment.
Dîner en Blanc (DeB) Chicago is the officially sanctioned version of the French original began by François Pasquier in 1988.  It now includes events in over 40 cities on five continents.  The rule was everyone dressed in white to make it easier for the participants to find each other.  People buy tickets, which usually sell out fast.   They're instructed to bring their own picnic dinner and supplies, which can be in any color as long as they're white.  Alcohol can be purchased.  Those with reservations are given the date of the event, but the location is kept a secret.  The day of the event, an e-mail or text message directs ticket-holders to one of several staging points from which a guide leads them to the actual location.  Last year's event was in the Dan Kiley-designed south garden of the Art Institute, with Lorado Taft's Fountain of the Great Lakes filling the role of world's largest sidetable centerpiece.
It would be hard to beat this year's setting however, with decor by Bruce Graham/SOM (Equitable Building), Holabird and Root (333 North Michigan), Office of Mies van der Rohe (Illinois Center),  Hood and Howells (Tribune Tower,) and Graham, Anderson, Probst and White (Wrigley Building).
You may recall my writing about a year ago about the need to make Pioneer Court a more active Chicago civic presence.  Tonight, between the Thursday Night Football crowd at the Hood and Howells restaurant and Dîner en Blanc sprawled across the plaza on a balmy, early-fall night, it's hard to conceive how it could have been any more active.
Strangely enough, Chicago has not one, but two annual dining pop-up events.  Chicago in White, which in previous years set up shop in Daley Plaza and the Merchandise Mart, will incite its own flash mob this coming Sunday, September 22nd.

It's official: AMA abandons Kenzo Tange - now Married to Mies

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As reported by Marina City Online,  Mayor Rahm Emanuel today officially welcomed the 1,100 employees of the America Medical Association, who have ditched the 1990 State Street skyscraper . . .
AMA Building, Kenzo Tange, architect
. . .  Kenzo Tange had designed for them in favor of new digs at Mies van der Rohe's  1973 IBM Building, on Wabash just a couple blocks to the south.  After the departure of its anchor tenant, the IBM had been known by its address, 330 North Wabash.  It's new name?  AMA Plaza.  What used to be the AMA Building will now be known, at least until a new anchor tenant is found, as “空虚の寺塔” or “Temple Tower of Emptiness.”

How did the IBM get to the AMA, hotel attached?  It's an epic story, which we've told in three parts . . .
How Do You Get to AMA Plaza? High-tech, decline, and revival at Mies van der Rohe's IBM Building.
Apotheosis of the Skyscraper - How Mies's Spartan IBM Gained New Life by Going Soft
Mies Goes Soft: At the IBM Building, The Langham Chicago Pushes Against the Envelope

Tonight through Sunday, Chicago River on the Level - it's Expo Chicago weekend!

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As we wrote back in August, this is the big weekend.  Expo Chicago, with over 120 international art galleries, is back for its second year at Navy Pier, Thursday through Sunday.  It's become something of an organizational marvel, spawning an increasingly wide ranging set of parallel events - not officially connected, some not - during Expo Art Week.

One of those events begins tonight at 6:00 p.m.  It's called Level 2013 , and it's. . .

. . .is a free, five-day, annual architecture and art event that showcases site specific, experimental, interactive installations that embrace Chicago’s rich cultural landscape. During Level 2013, architects, designers and artists will transform four unique spaces along the Chicago River into destination places for visitors and locals alike. Level is being held during EXPO CHICAGO contemporary art fair as a complementary design and new media experience. The exhibition dates are September 18-22, 2013, 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. nightly.
There are five separate locations along the Chicago River, from Michigan Avenue, all the way down to the Daily News Building plaza at 2 North Riverside.  It's being organized by L.A.-based LERATA (Laboratory for Experimentation and Research in Art, Technology and Architecture), who say the event will “invite locals and visitors to view the Chicago River in a new way.”  It's described as a "preview" of an anticipated city wide event to be held sometime in 2014, the same year Redmoon Theater is scheduled to set the Chicago River on fire.  LERATA's website doesn't offer many details , but in February they're producing Skyline in  L.A., as a “ten-day, free, art, architecture and entertainment event [which] will include 16 installations located in five different downtown Los Angeles districts.”  LERATA says the Chicago event will expand to 16 sites, and that they're going to send out an RFP (request for proposal) on the way to choosing eight local Chicago architects and artists to participate.
For Level, two of the events will take place along riverfront locations between State and Clark that are expected to soon shut down for the construction of the first phase of Chicago's new riverwalk.  Musical performances will take place at two of the sites Friday and Saturday.
Back at Expo Chicago, the Jeanne Gang design of the exposition for the second year.  New for 2013, she's also designing the viewing stations, located under the west frustum in Festival Hall, for Expo Video, an international selection of  “cutting edge film, video and new media works” curated by Dean Otto of the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, including Columbia College student Ahmed Hamads “The Home of the Dead.”.   There's also a new installation from Brooklyn-based Snarckarchitecture.
In August, we had also written on how the Mana Contemporary storage and support facilities for local artists at the old Warshawsky tower in Pilsen would be holding an exposition during Expo Art Week.  It now looks like Mana Fest has now been rescheduled for September 29.  More info here.  However, the Chicago version of the Fountain Art Fair will ran at the Mana Friday through Sunday.  Info here.

Read More:

Expo Chicago (official site)
Snarckitecture added, Studio/Gang back at Expo Chicago for 2013
Big Shiny Things: Studio/Gang at Expo Chicago

From Auto Parts to Art - Mana Contemporary opens at landmark Warshawsky tower in Pilsen

Finishing the Chicago River Walk