A monumental new mural by renowned artist JR will be unveiled at Superblue during Miami Art Week this December. Enlivening Superblue’s exterior facade, The Chronicles of Miami features 1,048 portraits of the residents and visitors that define Miami, continuing the artist’s acclaimed participatory mural series, Chronicles. Also debuting during Miami Art Week is JR’s most significant immersive work to date, The Machine Behind the Art: Inside JR’s Printing Press, created for Superblue, and complementing on-going participatory installations by Es Devlin, Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, teamLab and James Turrell also on view inside the experiential art center. The Chronicles of Miami and The Machine Behind the Art will be on long term view at Superblue through at least 2024, with the mural extending to a facade at the Jungle Plaza in the Miami Design District through December of this year.
“Participation and community are essential to everything JR creates, just as they are essential to all of the experiences we bring to Superblue audiences. Harnessing the power of participation, JR’s works uplift and empower every individual to recognize their important roles in their community and to see others in the same way. These new works are incredible examples of the ways that immersive, participatory artworks can transform perspectives on the world and each other, and they are emblematic of the kinds of community-centered experiences Superblue creates year-round. We can’t wait to welcome visitors to become a part of these artworks during Miami Art Week and beyond,” said Superblue Cofounder and Chief Creative Officer Mollie Dent-Brocklehurst.
Scaling Superblue’s exterior and visible from afar, The Chronicles of Miami mural imagines how an entire city can be represented through art, inspired by the Mexican muralist Diego Rivera. The result is an expressive snapshot of Miami, capturing the residents and visitors who make the city unique, from Miami Beach’s party-goers to Little Havana’s expert domino players. Recognizable faces of mayors and celebrities can be spotted amongst the city’s locals, portrayed side by side and as equals, coming together to mark this moment in time. The mural is created as an offering to the community, displaying the portraits back into the city for all to see. As a project with participation at its core, it is also intended as a symbol of what is on offer inside Superblue: art which encourages and requires interaction to complete it.
To create the work, JR’s mobile studio traveled through well-known and historic Miami neighborhoods in November 2022, including Wynwood, Little Haiti, the Design District, Downtown, Liberty City, and Coconut Grove. Passersby were encouraged to have their portrait taken either individually or as part of a group, choosing how they posed and represented themselves. Following their portrait, each participant stepped into a recording booth where they could share a thought, story, or experience. Over the next year, these photographs were collaged together to create a complex, highly realistic composition of epic scale. Each participant’s voice is connected to their portrait through the free augmented reality app JR:murals.
Reflecting the same spirit of The Chronicles of Miami, a second installation in Superblue’s interior, The Machine Behind the Art: Inside JR’s Printing Press, provides a space for self-expression and communal celebration and is one of JR’s most extensive immersive and experiential works to date. Conceived specially for Superblue, The Machine Behind the Art invites visitors to walk through a portal-like door embedded into The Chronicles of Miami mural on the building’s façade. The door acts as a physical manifestation of the overarching Superblue exhibition title, Every Wall is a Door, referring to the installations in Superblue’s interior. Once inside, visitors find themselves inside the mechanical world crucial to JR’s artistic practice. After taking their portraits in one of four individual photo booths, visitors enter the interior of an oversized, whirring printing press where their portraits escape from the rollers and float to the ground. Through this tangible image-making process, audiences are encouraged to engage with their own individuality as well as the power of the collective through a shared experience: the portraits, all visually linked through their large-scale full frame approach, together build up a disparate but unified community.
The Machine Behind the Art was inspired by the participatory principles of the Inside Out Project, a global platform instigated by JR which empowers communities to create their own public art installations made of large-scale black and white portraits. Echoing this spirit, The Machine Behind the Art both continues the legacy of Inside Out and extends the experience of The Chronicles of Miami.
ADDITIONAL INSTALLATIONS ON VIEW DURING MIAMI ART WEEK
In addition to JR’s new work The Machine Behind the Art, the Superblue exhibition, Every Wall Is a Door features large scale participatory immersive environments created by globally recognized artists, on view year-round and during Miami Art Week:
Rafael Lozano-Hemmer: Pulse Topology
Recognized for his interactive installations, Lozano-Hemmer’s works are activated by participants’ real-time biometric data such as their heartbeats, breathing, voices, and fingerprints—pushing the possibilities for public engagement to its very limits. Pulse Topology is an immersive biometric artwork comprising 3,000 suspended light bulbs, each of which glimmers to the heartbeat of different viewers. As visitors traverse the crests and valleys of suspended, pulsing lights, sensors detect and record their heartbeats. When new participants walk through the installation, their heartbeats replace those of previous visitors, creating a memento mori in which the trace of individual heartbeats gains poetic strength as a powerful choir of human connection.
James Turrell: AKHU
A forefather of the experiential art movement, James Turrell engages viewers with the limits of human perception. Emblematic of the artist’s investigation into perceptual phenomena through the exploration of light, volume, and scale, Ganzfeld works such as AKHU bring viewers into the powerful, felt experience of light itself. Ganzfelds are large-scale installations that immerse visitors in a room of monochrome lighting, in which the dimensions of space are sensed before light moves to a complete dissolve. With no object on which to focus their vision, visitors experience a change in depth perception and possibly a feeling of disorientation.
teamLab: Between Life and Non-Life
Bringing together immersive installations by teamLab in one all-encompassing experience, this suite of interconnected artworks takes audiences on an exploration of the ambiguity between living and non-living states of being and the relationship between humanity and the natural world. The installation embodies the collaborative practice of teamLab, an interdisciplinary collective of artists, programmers, engineers, CG animators, mathematicians, and architects that aims to transcend boundaries of perception, demonstrate the continuity of time, and explore the relationship between the self and the world. The installation includes:
- Massless Clouds Between Sculpture and Life – This installation places audiences in a space filled from floor to ceiling with giant floating clouds. The boundaries between this floating sculpture, the space, and the body are ambiguous, allowing visitors to immerse their bodies in the sculpture. Even when physically pushed through, the sculpture will break and naturally repair itself like a living thing. However, as with living things, when the sculpture is destroyed beyond what it can repair, it cannot mend itself, and it collapses.
- Life Survives by the Power of Life II – This 8K single channel monitor work renders the Japanese character of life, 生 (sei), in a three-dimensional space to express the depth, speed, and power of the brushstroke. The work shifts between this three-dimensional rendering and a flattened, two-dimensional version of the character to reflect the indivisible state of the self and nature and the reality that existences that appear to be distinct are actually part of a single whole.
- Universe of Water Particles, Transcending Boundaries – Visitors experience a responsive, interactive installation that surrounds them in a digital continuum of water particles that appear flattened in what teamLab calls “ultrasubjective space.” Visitors influence the flow of water as they journey through the installation and as the water parts around them. The flow of the waterfall also influences the Flowers and People, Cannot be Controlled but Live Together installation, causing the flowers in the latter to scatter.
- Flowers and People, Cannot be Controlled but Live Together – Transcending Boundaries, A Whole Year per Hour and Proliferating Immense Life, A Whole Year per Year – Audiences experience a computer-generated continual cycle of a seasonal year of flowers growing, blossoming, withering, and decaying. As visitors move through the installation, flowers stepped on will result in scattered petals and wither. Flowers that are observed in stillness grow abundantly – reflecting the importance of balance between humanity and nature and uncertainty about how much of the ecosystem is a result of natural processes versus human interaction.
Es Devlin: Forest of Us
Forest of Us takes as its starting point the striking visual symmetries between the structures within us that allow us to breathe and the structures around us that make breathing possible: the bronchial trees that exchange oxygen for carbon dioxide within our lungs and the trees which exchange carbon dioxide for oxygen within our environment. The work begins as a film. The screen surface is periodically perforated, allowing viewers to walk through the film into a mirror maze. Devlin’s use of the mirror maze draws on her reading of contemporary eco-philosophers who use the “hall of mirrors” as a metaphor for the glimmering feedback loops of human design that enchant our gaze so seductively, we lose awareness of our symbiotic connection to rest of the biosphere.
The installation is complemented by two lightboxes by renowned Brazilian photographer Sebastião Salgado that depict the devastating deforestation of the Amazon rainforest. These works by Salgado whose nonprofit Instituto Terra is dedicated to reforestation of the Amazon and has planted millions of trees across thousands of acres, underscore the themes of Devlin’s work, encouraging viewers to reconsider their relationship and responsibility to the natural world.
Visiting Superblue Miami
Superblue Miami is located at 1101 NW 23rd St, Miami, FL. Tickets begin at $36 for adults. Students (with ID), Seniors (65+), military personnel, and frontline healthcare workers $34; Florida residents (with ID) $29; Children (3-12) $14; teamLab’s Massless Clouds Between Sculpture and Life Add On $12. Tickets are available at superblue.com.