The bright lights of Broadway are taking on a whole new meaning, thanks to an art installation set to open on Monday (January 10). Entitled PASSAGE, the work designed by a Canadian artist comprises a tunnel of illuminated hoops that change color and produce sounds as visitors walk through them.

Open January 10 through February 13 on Broadway between W39th and W40th Streets, PASSAGE was designed by Serge Maheu, a Montreal-based artist who first trained in computer engineering before becoming a multimedia director and visual artist. The installation originated in 2017 and has previously been shown in cities across Canada and the US, as well as in Singapore. 

The lights of PASSAGE will provide a walkway on Broadway. Photo: Serge Maheu.

Combining his expertise in film, animation, sound and music, computer programming, interactivity, and electronics, Maheu set out to create an interactive exhibit exploring our emotional connections to light and sound, in part based on the experiences of people who have had close calls with death and nearly made a passage to the other side. 

The sounds and lights of PASSAGE. Video: Serge Maheu.

Maheu said: “PASSAGE refers to this enigmatic moment between life and death, that has been documented as near-death experiences from testimonies of people who almost passed away. Such experiences may encompass a variety of sensations including detachment from the body, feelings of levitation, total serenity, security, warmth, the experience of absolute dissolution, and the presence of a light.  These experiences were taken into consideration in the creation of the artwork, in the conceptual design and in the sound and visual/light design, and is figured here as a pleasant space as part of another temporal dimension. A personal and sensory experience that remains playful.”

The installation is the latest to be presented by The NYC Department of Transportation Art Program in collaboration with Garment District Art on the Plazas The Garment District’s recent interactive art installations have included last year’s Prismatica, a series of multi-hued kaleidoscopes by Canada-based experience agency Creos (also showcased on Broadway and W39th St last January), “Doggy Bags”, a colorful collection of giant dog sculptures by artist Will Kurtz exhibited in the fall of 2020, and the Inside Out Project, an interactive mural in partnership with street artist JR displayed this fall at Port Authority and made from the photos of participating passersby. 

The Garment District collaborated with JR on their “Inside Out Project” last year. Photo: Phil O’Brien

Garment District Art on the Plaza is part of the Garment District Alliance, working with local businesses and citywide cultural programming to create neighborhood events and installations that bring economic and cultural vitality to Midtown West. Check out PASSAGE and stay tuned for their next installation! 

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