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Luftwerk (Petra Bachmaier & Sean Gallero)

February & March 2018

Public Viewing Hours:
Fridays 6–8pm
Saturdays 1–5pm
Sundays 1–5pm

Drawing inspiration from the visualization of atmospheric conditions, Current Air, borrows from the graphic language of meteorology to create a hybridized visual current of color, image, and pattern. This video hints to scientific expressions of temperature, moisture, and wind allowing for free associations of the viewer. Developed to activate 150 Media Stream with vibrant colors, it draws from the fluid dynamic of the adjacent Chicago River. This video hints to the ephemeral qualities outside: the wind blowing into the city along the river from Lake Michigan, moisture from snow or rain, and the shifting temperatures. Using a strong visual language, it brings the outside in to enliven the interior atmosphere.

Interview with Luftwerk

What is the collaborative nature of your work? Can you describe your collaboration strategies?

Collaborators are key to our work. Current projects rely on collaborators from vastly different disciplines including: architects, videographers, scientists, glaciologists, metal fabricators, engineers, sound composers, and architectural theorists. This variety gives great depth and specific expertise to each of our installations and affords us a broader range for exploration.

You use saturated colors in much of your work, can you talk about the use of colors in this piece for 150 Media Stream and others?

Light and color are core to our practice and elements we manipulate to shift perspectives and develop new perceptions. The malleable and varying nature of these materials allows for endless possibilities and applications. In each project the colors relate to the content of the work. In "Current Air", for example, the color is derived from the heat index, an index that combines temperature and humidity to determine the human-perceived temperature. These highly saturated colors and patterns draw strong connotations to our interest in meteorological visualizations in relation to the context of the site for this piece.

This piece is generated based on climate data, could you talk about where this idea come from and what you hope people will gain from the work?

Recent projects such as White Wanderer enables our work to convey important information through dynamic, artistic means. White Wanderer is a sound piece that intends to raise awareness about the devastating degradation of the Larsen-C iceberg and more broadly, the imminent danger climate change has on the Artic. Current Air follows those footsteps, and intends to be like a lyrical interpretation of how science observes, measures, and visualizes atmospheric changes on our planet. This video piece is an example of how our work engages with complex data to inform and incite change through artistic expression.

As artists who are interested in using big data to create artwork, can you talk about the convergence of scientific data and analysis and its interpretation in art making?

In an increasingly data-driven world, we are motivated to use data as a source for our content to express this rich information through visual means. In recent projects, we convey data in our work to express complex information in a digestible and artistic manner. We believe that an experience is a powerful mode to impart information as a catalyst for change. More specifically, data sets contain rich but somewhat unintelligible information. In our work with data, we look to distill complex ideas to provide access and raise awareness about urgent issues. We live in a society with a proliferation of information and experiences and images are powerful tools to draw attention and gain awareness.

Learn more about Luftwerk here

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Chicago Design Museum

150 Media Stream website:
design by the narrative: branding & design
photography by michael salisbury