LIGHT SHADOW: MLK
When Cambridge students of the Martin Luther King, Jr. and Putnam Avenue Upper Schools enter their new school building on Putnam Avenue in December, they will be greeted by Light Shadow: MLK, a 7-foot x 32-foot “urban musical instrument” created by artist and composer Christopher Janney. Commissioned by the Cambridge Arts Council as part of the City’s public art program, Light Shadow: MLK will invite students, teachers, staff, and visitors to the School to engage in playful exploration of light and sound, either alone or with others. Lillian Hsu, Director of Public Art and Exhibitions remarked, “We are thrilled that the City of Cambridge will have a project created by Christopher Janney. Light Shadow: MLK is a work of art that responds to whole-body engagement, whether from one person or from many, prompting a sense of wonder and delight for all ages.”
Janney’s “interactive light wall” is composed of a grid of more than 200 sensors and colored LED lights and audio speakers. The motion of people walking by triggers a series of colorful lights and a sound-score composed of ever-changing patterns of melodic instruments mixed with environmental sounds indigenous to Massachusetts. Light Shadow: MLK also contains a riddle waiting to be solved. The person who solves the riddle and triggers the elements in the right order will be rewarded with a display of light and sound as the wall “dances” in celebration. To keep the challenge alive, the riddle will be reprogrammed if it is solved a number of times successfully.
The artwork will also serve as a laboratory for STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) learning. Students will have access to a computer model of the piece, allowing them to reprogram the wall with their own light and soundscapes.