My City, 2008

My City, captures Chicago’s changing lakefront as it cycles through days, seasons, and ultimately, years. Commissioned for the historic Blackstone Hotel, Lincoln Schatz’s generative portrait displays a panoramic landscape on two plasma screens situated behind the check in desk. Schatz mounted a pan/tilt/zoom robotic camera on the northeast corner of the hotel’s roof, 24 floors up, programming the camera to move in a complex series of paths, sweeping across and zooming into the vista. The artwork takes in views of Grant Park, Lake Michigan, Monroe Harbor, Millennium Park, Art Institute of Chicago, Navy Pier, Michigan Avenue, Soldier Field, and the shores of Indiana and Michigan, relaying them to a computer in the basement of the hotel.

My City in Real Time

My City, Installed Blackstone Hotel lobby, two HD screens show an video artwork by Lincoln Schatz
My City, Installed Blackstone Hotel Lobby

After the recording is done, My City begins to form. Firstly, the computer takes all of these files in real-time and begins selecting, processing and mixing layers of video together. And then the video signal is sent to the two plasma screens located in the lobby of the Blackstone Hotel. This work of art requires an extensive system of computers, cables, video cameras and technology in order to work. Because of this, My City is one of the more complex installations that Schatz had completed to date. And as a result, the artwork has revealed new insights into Schatz’s generative video artwork.

My City, Installed Blackstone Hotel lobby, two HD screens show an video artwork by Lincoln Schatz
My City, Installed Blackstone Hotel

As the city changes and each season comes and goes, My City marks these events over time. Recording passively the topography of Chicago’s downtown and Millennium Park. As a result, the video files reveal the daily and the expected, along with the uncommon and the surprising. My City asks of viewers to consider what a cityscape can look like?

How do we understand urban spaces? And what happens when we use passive surveillance technologies as tools to create art? With My City we see a world created using chance and algorithms. Entirely determined by custom software and a computer. To view more generative video featuring the architecture of Chicago, please click here.