Window Light Installation

Passing MuIRAGE

40 North and the Champaign Center Partnership are thrilled to present a new window light installation and public art exhibit set to illuminate two commercial spaces in downtown Champaign during the month of March. Using a series of projectors, custom animations, and suspended fabric, Passing MuIRAGE, created by artists Matt Harsh and Jake Metz, is a novel community project aimed at brightening up dark winter nights during the first three weekends in March, Friday through Sunday, from 6:30 pm to 12 am.

A conversation with the artists, Matt Harsh and Jake Metz:

March 3, 2023

What is the significance behind the name, Passing MuIRAGE?

Matt: We were thinking of what to name it, so we plugged some information about the installation into ChatGPT – haha – and it gave us a couple different answers like “Transient Illumination” and “Urban Mirage.” We liked “Urban Mirage,” but thought Micro-Urban Mirage was more appropriate, so we shortened it to “MuIRAGE”. We chose “Passing” because, obvi [sic], walking by.

Jake: My only addition is that I often find the practice of naming art pieces (particularly ephemeral installation pieces), to be an exercise in contrivance, hence an artificial intelligence providing assistance seemed appropriate. In any case, trying to turn the experience of visual cortex stimulation into words is not a great substitute for just getting the photons into eyeballs.

Can you describe the projections at each location? What was it like working in both spaces?

Jake: I enjoy the constraints inherent in site-specific pieces. In this case, we had to contend with varying amounts of ambient light in the exteriors as well as where people might be viewing the pieces from. For the Destihl space [301 N Neil St, #101], foot traffic would put people relatively close to the window and we were thus able to work on a piece that explored a sense of depth which could be perceived by those peering in a window.

Matt: The Destihl space has two projectors that are projecting through multiple large panels of sheer material (tulle). This creates a look of floating images paired with some more bright slices of the image on the pillars behind. The combinations of panels and pillars help to emphasize the use of dimension. The combination of images and the relation of distance between them change as the viewer moves.

Jake: In contrast, the KoFusion space [1 Main St, #103] was set back from sidewalks and roads, so we pursued a bolder style, with a continuous image spanning a wide canvas, right against the glass.

Matt: Here, we utilize four projector that are mapped to two window areas that are projecting onto screen material. The mapping allows the whole of the projection to be one image or canvas.

How did you approach the animation direction that you were going to take?

Jake: The specifics of each site informed the content of the pieces. With the more depth focused Destihl piece, stark lines and empty space help accentuate a holographic aesthetic.

Matt: This type of content looks better in tulle. Large washes of light aren’t as effective in giving the holographic effect we wanted.

Jake: With the long, continuous projection at KoFusion, high contrast, wide images worked well. I was also particularly interested in how the human form with arms outstretched filled that space.

Is there anything else you would like people to know about this project?

Matt: Art is fun! light is cool! Remember to play whenever you have the chance. We really like the idea of bringing something interesting and eye catching to downtown during a time when it can be cold and dull. I think things like light installations and interesting public art can reinforce the vibrance of the area.