“Chicago Light Passage”

Chicago Lakefront and Walter Kelly Gallery

Chicago Light Passage was a series of seven nighttime performances given by a “light brigade” of 16 artists and architects, a “field marshall” in charge of implementation and coordination, and John David Mooney, the sculptor who inspired and “estheticized” the plan.

First the practical aspects. Dr. Robert S. Rohde, a laser physicist presently with the U.S. Army Electronics Command, had early in his career been responsible for programming complex, precision, army marching drills. Using the same methods for charting sequences of interacting, overlapping, dipping, pivoting, intersecting, and fanning out movements, he designed a separate program for each of the 16 giant Hollywood searchlights in Mooney’s brigade, making up one vast overall pattern for the lights in the sky.

After one flashlight and two searchlight rehearsals, 16 people went “into the field,” each equipped with a searchlight and

to keep reading

Artforum print subscribers have full access to this article. If you are a subscriber, sign in below.

Not registered for Register here.

SUBSCRIBE NOW for only $50 a year—65% off the newsstand price—and get the print magazine plus full online access to this issue and our archive.*

Order the PRINT EDITION of the December 1977 issue for $17 or the ONLINE EDITION for $5.99.

* This rate applies to U.S. domestic subscriptions.