The Chronicles of San Francisco

Submitted by SNA Displays

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Client: San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Sensory Interactive

Location: San Francisco, CA, United States

Completion date: 2019

Project Team

Executive Vice President

Jason Helton

SNA Displays

Project Manager

John Pisciotta

SNA Displays

Managing Director

Christopher Graefe

Sensory Interactive

Associate Director

Mark Petterson

Sensory Interactive

Artist

JR

Display mounting

RPVisuals

Content management system

Analog Way

Sign installation

Arrow Sign

Overview

The Chronicles of San Francisco celebrates the city’s extraordinary and diverse people on a state-of-the-art, 107-foot-long digital canvas. The massive LED display, featuring a 2.5 mm pixel pitch, was manufactured and installed by SNA Displays. With nearly 26 million pixels the digital display was likely the highest-resolution LED screen in the U.S. during its run at SFMOMA.

Sensory Interactive provided design, technical specification, procurement, and project management services for the project.

A key part of the effort was finding the right display configuration, size, and placement to create the most inviting and immersive experience for viewers. As part of this effort, Sensory Interactive, SNA Displays, and JR’s team worked together to explore a variety of design options, particularly for joining the two planes of the display at their intersection.
Ultimately, the team settled on a curved connection and a slightly concave angle for the two planes. This approach draws visitors into the space and maximizes their sense of immersion as they are surrounded by the massive, slowly moving digital images.

Goals

The goal of this project was to allow museums to bring video art out of the traditional darkened room and into wide-open spaces like the Roberts Family Gallery at SFMOMA. The team also wanted to showcase how the latest LED display technology can help an artist realize a creative vision, even for the most ambitious pieces.

“We believe that the artwork and the people whose stories it tells are what is really important,” said Sensory Interactive Associate Director Mark Petterson, “and that the technology should fade into the background. Our goal was to help JR find and implement the hardware and software that would create the best experience for people viewing the piece.”

The Chronicles of San Francisco is an excellent example of the growing contribution that digital art is making to the art world. It reveals how powerful technology can transform the artistic experience, both by enhancing its immersive qualities and by creating an essentially new medium. It’s also an exciting trend for the future of museums and other curated art platforms.

Process

To create the piece, JR set up a mobile studio in 22 locations around San Francisco, where he filmed, photographed, and interviewed more than 1,200 people from across the city’s multifaceted communities. In the completed work, a digital mural scrolls across the enormous LED display, bringing together the faces and untold stories of everyday people.

Because of the complexity of executing an art installation with such demanding technical requirements and a large, international team, Sensory Interactive got involved in the process early. The company’s architects, motion-graphic designers, and 3D artists worked with JR’s team to ensure that every aspect of the LED art display supported the goals for the installation.

Additional Information

Won the international bronze award in the museum/exhibits subcategory for interior design from International Design Awards (IDA). Won the DIGI Award for Best Digital Sign Application: Digital Signage as Art from Digital Signage Magazine.