Art on theMART is the largest permanent digital art projection system in the world and an innovative platform for public art that covers nearly three acres of the river façade of theMART, an iconic Art Deco masterpiece, formerly known as The Merchandise Mart, that opened in 1930 along the banks of the Chicago River in downtown Chicago. The transformative project, privately funded by Vornado Realty Trust, launched with the inaugural set of projections on September 29, 2018, attracting more than 32,000 people. It has quickly emerged as a major international cultural destination. Past artists who have created work for Art on theMART include Diana Thater, Charles Atlas, Petra Cortright, Jan Tichy and Jason Salavon. Art on theMART is typically active one hour per evening, seven evenings per week and 9 months a year, based on an agreement with the City of Chicago.

Qualified finalists are:

  • Visual art professionals from anywhere in the world, including artists and media designers.
  • Able to demonstrate an interest in and aptitude for new media.
  • Able to demonstrate a proven history of multimedia projects.
  • Able to meet deadlines and manifest complex art and design projects with many collaborators and stakeholders.

The selected work:

  • Will be an approximately 3 to 15-minute digital piece to be projected directly and shown repeatedly in the context of Art on theMART.
  • Demonstrates attention to the specificity of theMART façade and the surrounding natural and built environment of Chicago.
  • Will have broad public appeal and features content appropriate for all audiences.
  • Responds creatively to and expresses the potential of the platform.
  • Does not include branding, sponsorship credits, or messaging.
  • The projection system includes 34 Christie Digital 4K30 Boxer projectors mounted above the Riverwalk just east of the bridge tower at the intersection of Franklin and Wacker.
  • Working Resolution: 6000 x 2584
  • Total number of projectors (active): 34
  • Estimated projected area: 115,000 sq ft.; 2.6 acres
  • Technical Specifications
  • Delivered Format Expectations:
    • Resolution: 6000 x 2584
    • Codec: HAPQ
    • Container: .mp4
    • Frame rate: 30fps
    • Audio: embedded
    • Mono 16 bit 44.1kh

Templates Technical Spec Guide

  • Types of work: Video and other moving image works that will be projected directly onto the south façade of theMART. Large blocks of solid colors in high contrast are more legible than detailed images with low contrast palettes. Animated designs work very well. Photographs or filmed or taped footage also work if careful attention is given by the artist to the amount of detail and color contrasts, the color of background, the scale of representational objects and at 6k resolution. More detailed guidelines will be provided to the artists selected to develop full proposals. Samples of past projections can be viewed at
  • Remember the windows: The windows of the façade are “subbed out,” so that projected light does not enter the interior of theMART. Therefore, the façade of theMART cannot be considered as a flat screen.
  • Fit content to the dimensions of the building and leverage the building geometry: The projection coverage area is more than the rectangle of the façade but rather extends vertically up the three towers of the building, resulting in an interesting geometry. The entire projection surface area does not have to be used but it is encouraged.
  • Accompanying audio is required for completed projects. Permissions for any recorded sound will be secured by the selected artist (s) and is provided by the artist(s) to accompany the projection. Audio will be played through permanent speakers located on the Riverwalk Jetty.
  • The building features LED lights at the crown of theMART. The lighting on this area will be coordinated to accompany projections under the direction of and funded by theMART.
  • The system does not currently support a live data feed but theMART is open to discussing projects that include live element provided that it maintains the integrity of the platform and security of the system.
  • There is no fee paid to artists for the presentation of their qualifications.
  • Any artists who is invited to submit a formal proposal will receive $1,000 upon the timely submission of a complete proposal. Only the selected artist will receive the fee; no collaborators. Proposals must use the templates and 3-D model that will be provided by Art on theMART at the time of the RFP.
  • The artist(s) selected to fully develop a piece for future inclusion in Art on theMART will be awarded $10,000 upon delivery of a complete, on-time artwork that is approved by Art on theMART.  This award includes the artist fee and any associated production costs, including but not limited to payment to any collaborators or license fees to incorporate third-party content. If the project costs exceed $10,000, the artist(s) and/or their sponsor organization(s) will be responsible for the balance.
  • Equipment, technical adaptation and review, installation, LED building crown lighting design and system integration, maintenance and publicity costs to be covered by Art on theMART.

    • Basic Details
    • Project Details
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    Questions: Please address any questions to Cynthia Noble, Executive Director, Art on theMART at [email protected]