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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

2-26-24 PDF
February 26, 2024
An inside look at Bobby B. Beacon’s insides. Illustrated by Bianca Oppedisano/ Mass Media Staff.
Bobby's Inside Story
February 26, 2024

Free Art Exhibit ILLUMINUS Truly Lights up Boston’s Night Life

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Exhibit “Building Memories” at ILLUMINUS Boston

A stark red “Art Hub” sign illuminating the Prudential Center Tower during October 10th’s spectacular ILLUMINUS contemporary art show, signaled to city-dwellers everywhere that, yes, something huge in the art world was certainly going on and they absolutely had to take a look.  Walking past Landsdown Street, casual passersby were often startled to see mass amounts of people, ranging from young children to full-grown men and women, donning headgear shaped from aluminum foil – how could anyone not want to investigate?
I know most people may see the words “contemporary art” and immediately feel an inevitable eye-roll coming on as they imagine the impossible-to-understand mounds of plastic and paper exhibits we’ve all come to associate those words with.
However, the hosts of the free, largely outdoor exhibit, HUBweek, made certain to stay true to their mission to create an interactive, engaging, and unexpected performance for the enjoyment of locals and tourists alike.  
Walking right into the meat of the festival at Fenway Park, show-goers were immediately engulfed in sensory overload: flashing lights, groaning music made from metal pipes, and throngs of people bouncing on and touching what appeared to be the works of art on display.
Navigating the exhibits was a fascinating experience; not only was it a strange feeling to be surrounded by so many people spending their Saturday night at an art show, but many of the exhibits were things one merely stumbled into – or onto. Most pieces lacked any explanation whatsoever on the signs declaring their names – and while this started out frustrating, it truly made viewers play around with the exhibits to see for themselves what the art was all about.
Take, for example, the “Healing Pool” by artist Brian Knep, a large interactive pad displaying orange and yellow blobs that viewers could stand on and alter using their shadows. It took a little bit of detective work to figure out what exactly was going on as people hopped on and off the platform. The experience pushed you not only to interact with the art itself, but also with the people around you as you all worked together to piece the puzzle together.
Another major attraction, “Waking the Monster” by Maria Finkelmeier, Ryan Edwards, and Sam Okerstrom-Lang, stayed true to its dominating name. Looming far above viewers, New England-based performers and musicians made music by banging on intricate metal piping climbing well into the air whilst singing unintelligible rhythms into mics.  The title and performers literally played off of the famous “Green Monster” left field wall of Fenway Park. The Monster’s melodic groans could be heard from all parts of the festival, even as viewers made their way into a several-story garage building.
This alarmingly simple concrete building housed, in my opinion, the true wonders of the night. As someone not often moved by contemporary art, even the interactive works, I found myself absolutely enthralled with a work called “Between Doors” by Labspace Studio. Although all of the pieces were meant to demonstrate the harmony between technology and art, nothing compared to the success of this entirely interactive work.
After surviving a line stretching from one end of the building to the next, festival-goers got to have their turn at confronting a series of sets of doors with choices written on them. One set of doors, for example, consisted of one door reading, “I regret nothing,” and another reading, “I have regrets.” Each ten or so sets of doors were free-standing and open for spectators to see what choices viewers selected as they moved through the installation.
I found myself following surprisingly rich storylines of complete strangers as they made their choices, most often genuinely sad by some of the choices they made. One of the final doors labeled, “found,” for instance, remained untouched as person after person declared themselves “lost.” At the end of the series of doors was a projection of statistics of selections, arranged into a pie chart. Although I did not get a chance to walk through the exhibit myself, it felt a lot like intimately exploring the private lives of people I would never see again.
Although much of the festival was a lot of goofy and refreshing fun – my friend made a full martian-esque helmet out of his generous chunk of aluminum foil, scoring us quite a few looks  - it was unexpectedly touching to witness the relationship between people’s internal lives and the sensory-packed world around us. I truly feel that the annual ILLUMINUS festival is an experience that every Boston resident must try at least once, regardless of their taste for art.