‘Living kaleidoscope’ will adorn SAM building


Seattleites will have a chance to gaze into the soul of their city when the Seattle Art Museum unveils its new permanent outdoor art installation, Doug Aitken’s “MIRROR,” on March 24. There will be plenty of free festivities surrounding the piece’s unveiling.

“MIRROR,” a gift to SAM from the late Bagley Wright, is described as “a kind of living kaleidoscope” that monitors changes in SAM’s immediate vicinity. Those changes are then reflected in a huge LED display that wraps around the building’s northwest corner.

Digital sensors will pick up on weather information, pedestrian activity, traffic density and other local environmental factors. That data will then animate LED images drawn from hundreds of hours of digital footage that Aitken shot in Seattle and the region.

The idea, Aitken says, is for the installation to “constantly create its own sequences, patterns and composition.”

The March 24 celebration kicks off with an Aitken-curated “Happening” that includes outdoor performances of Steve Reich’s “Clapping Music” and Terry Riley’s minimalist groundbreaker “In C.” Riley will attend the performance by Seattle Symphony musicians and beloved local trombonist Stuart Dempster (who took part in the debut of “In C” in 1964).

First Avenue between Pike and University streets will be closed, and at dusk “MIRROR” will come to life with a digital display triggered by Reich and Riley’s music. Expect minimalist synesthesia — and food trucks.