City officials want more people to watch videos made by local artists, and are installing an outdoor movie screen in Market Plaza downtown to show off the films.
The video projectors and screen will revive the city’s Block2 video series, which was a loop of videos projected on the street-level window of the Urban Design Center at the corner of Fayetteville and Hargett streets.
The screen will operate at night, and the videos will be switched out every few months. During the day, the thick frame – made from a jumble of aluminum rods – will appear to shimmer as people walk between Fayetteville and Wilmington streets.
“Because of the juxtaposition of the lines front to back it sort of creates this shimmer,” said designer Matt McConnell.
McConnell said the whole sculpture will be 13 feet tall, 27 feet wide and 18 inches thick. It will be attached to the wall of the First Citizens Bank building and should be running by mid-December.
The sculpture will be coated in a gold-tinted urethane paint and will evoke images of trees and branches. A similar technique was used to create a blue sculpture attached above the South Blount Street entrance to the parking garage at Sky House Raleigh, he said.
The Market Plaza sculpture’s inspiration matches the planters and railings McConnell designed and constructed in nearby Exchange Plaza. He said he was inspired to use the tree and branch imagery, because it tells the history of the plaza.
Market and Exchange plazas, which were turned from streets to pedestrian malls in 1965, were dominated by thick vegetation and large planters until last year, when the city spent $1.2 million to redesign them. The hope is to draw more people into the plazas and have small events there.
Adding the screen and projection equipment, which will cost about $85,000, adds another element to the plazas and gives people another reason to stop and enjoy the new space, said Kim Curry-Evans, Raleigh’s Public Art Coordinator.
“We think it’s going to be a place for people to come and reflect on the videos,” she said.
Curry-Evans said the city has nine active public art projects happening across Raleigh and has several other initiatives that promote public art.
Projecting visual arts in the form of videos is something that only a few cities in the country do right now, said Curry-Evans.
“We’re going to be attracting video artists who want to use this as a venue,” she said. “I would like to think we might be on the forefront.”
Chris Cioffi: 919-829-4802, @ReporterCioffi