On Wednesday, downtown’s Main Street Garden gets a new interactive exhibit. Montreal artist Serge Maheu’s Passage encourages the public to walk through a tunnel consisting of 20 circles of color-changing lights.
Previously shown in in Charlotte’s Rail Park, Chicago’s Navy Pier, and during New Orleans’ Luna Fete festival, Dallas is the fourth city in the United States to host the interactive installation. In his native Canada, hundreds have meandered beneath the reams of light and sound. It’s popped up in arts festivals in India and Singapore and would be at home during Dallas’ annual pre-pandemic AURORA event.
Maheu, a formally trained engineer, incorporates technology into public art sculpture. The installation features LED lights and motion-activated sensors that initiate a series of animation and sounds as visitors walk through it. Maheu describes the installation as a “hypnotic piece” that is most at home in a public space.
Maheu says he was inspired by audio clips of people’s testimonies of near-death experiences, which led him to express the “enigmatic moment between life and death” as described on Maheu’s website, “the act of moving through or past something on the way from one place to another.”
“I think, given COVID, [the installation] can give hope to people,” he said in an interview. “We can transition from one place to another. The installation has a new meaning with COVID. For the piece to say there’s an end to something and we drew it beautifully.”
Passage is the second interactive installation pursued for a downtown Dallas park. The new West End Square opened earlier this year with an interactive piece called ANTIBODIES, which was a collaboration with the light and sound festival AURORA. That, too, came courtesy a Montreal artist: Daniel Iregui installed a multimedia wall that used motion sensors and LED lights to present an image of the viewer. Downtown Dallas Inc., the nonprofit that manages the neighborhood’s public improvement district, partnered with the Arts District to bring a similar interactive, light-based piece of public art to the city center in 2019.
“We see the want of having an interactive public space in Downtown Dallas,” said Juan Galvan, Manager of Community Engagement at Downtown Dallas, Inc. “[The district] is obtaining more parks, more green space and will keep an eye out for more interactive spaces in the future.”
The public art installation runs until November 3. Main Street Garden is located at 1902 Main Street, near the eastern edge of downtown.