Something shines in new building on East Washington Ave

Friday, September 14, 2018 - 4:19pm

The BLINK temporary public-art installation, Something, is composed of light and fog.

During the months of  September and October, the fourth floor of 821 East Washington Ave will be softly illuminated by white light. Something, a Madison Arts Commission BLINK temporary public art project by Ben Orozco and Emily Leach, was installed at StartingBlock Madison on September 14.

Something is a neon and fog installation honoring Madison’s history of industry and progressivism. The neon text — nothing will come of nothing — insists that even the smallest act is a significant one. At predetermined times during the night, the words are slowly obscured by a quiet stream of fog, which culminates in a pure volume of white light. The fog is then evacuated, revealing the phrase once again and completing the cycle.

On display to commuters and pedestrians on East Washington Ave, the installation faces a window-front on the fourth floor of the newly erected Spark building. The freestanding structure, 24’ long and 7’ tall, is immense in person yet diminutive when viewed from the street.

Ben Orozco and Emily Leach are BFA students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Both artists work primarily in the UW-Madison Glass Lab, where they focus on neon and glassblowing. This collaboration was inspired by an interest in investigating traditional neon signage and language through material form and ephemerality. Ken Flanagan, a physics PhD candidate at UW-Madison, consulted with and worked alongside the artists to design the freestanding structure and mechanics behind the fog system.

Chandra Miller Fienen, Director of Operations & Programs at StartingBlock Madison, writes: “As Madison’s long-awaited for entrepreneurial hub, StartingBlock is excited to explore intersections between technology, entrepreneurship, innovation and the creative arts . . . StartingBlock, as the anchor tenant of the Spark building, currently has work by local muralist Mike Lroy. We are also collaborating with Codaworx, ALL, MMOCA, and Dane Arts for additional collaborations.”

There will be an open reception at StartingBlock on Gallery Night, October 5, where viewers will be able to experience the installation up-close.

This installation was made possible with the support of StartingBlock Madison and BLINK. For guidelines about participating in the Madison Arts Commissions BLINK Temporary Public Art Program, visit the Madison Arts Commission website.

The next BLINK project application deadline is October 1, 2018.

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