Renowned American artist Judy Chicago’s first virtual artwork, commissioned by LAS, builds upon and continues her celebrated series Atmospheres (1968 – present). Global audiences are invited to experience this latest Smoke Sculpture™ performance in Augmented Reality (AR).
Chicago is a pioneering artist, author, feminist, educator and intellectual whose career spans five decades. She began her Atmospheres series in the late 1960s, working with pyrotechnics to produce complex firework pieces. Presented as ephemeral, site-specific performances, these works use coloured smoke intended to transform and soften the landscape. As an artist whose practice is deeply rooted in the physical experience of these works, Judy Chicago Rainbow AR marks a new stage in Chicago’s long history with pyrotechnics, working with new AR technologies to push the boundaries of the medium.
Produced in close collaboration with LAS and experience designers International Magic, Chicago created a new form of her Smoke Sculptures™, which is now brought into the digital realm. During this uncertain time when public gatherings are limited and our relationships with personal and public spaces are changing, Judy Chicago Rainbow AR is accessible to audiences wherever they are based, allowing them to have their own site-specific experience, activating and ‘beautifying’ their own surroundings.
“This work is a new way to bring the experience of my Smoke Sculptures™ to audiences around the world who might not be familiar with my long-standing efforts to soften and feminise the often-harsh, patriarchal world around us. At this moment in time, it seems even more important to offer the opportunity to bathe our environments with light, art and beauty in order to inspire hope and through a visual metaphor, suggest the possibility of positive change.”
Bringing individuals together through their experience of the work, Judy Chicago Rainbow AR unfolds as an interactive performance, releasing plumes of smoke and changing colour. Curling and billowing across the viewers’ screens, the work will invite audiences to interact with the smoke, walking through or around it. Chicago conceived the scenography for the piece and chose the colours and sequencing to offer a unique experience of her smoke performances only possible in the virtual world. The experience is accompanied by a polyphonic soundtrack, realised in collaboration with sound designer Colin Bailey, which uses soundscapes made from recordings from Judy Chicago’s work with pyrotechnician Chris Souza, of Pyro Spectaculars.
Innovative new techniques were used to translate and simulate the aesthetic and unique behaviours of Chicago’s Smoke Sculptures™ inside Augmented Reality. International Magic used cutting-edge technologies including device motion, fluid smoke simulations, real-time particle systems, noise shaders and harmonic sound to create an authentic, interactive experience, unique to the viewer each time they enter the work.
Atmospheres (1968 – present)
“There was a moment when the smoke began to clear, but a haze lingered. And the whole world was feminised — if only for a moment.”