Fall is almost upon us, and with the onset of cooler weather comes relaxing strolls along the Chicago Riverwalk and the launch of a one-of-a-kind art installation that will have the city – and the world – talking. Why? Because it’s going down in history as the world’s largest digital art projection. 

The highly anticipated Art on theMART installation, privately funded by theMART owner Vornado Realty Trust, will give those enjoying the 1.25-mile Chicago Riverwalk the most Instagram-worthy sight imaginable. The installation will use 34 projectors to illuminate the 2.5-acre river-facing side of the building – that’s the equivalent of two football fields, by the way. 

It all kicks off on September 29, and will be displayed for up to two hours a day, five days a week.

Vornado recently announced that the installation will project the works of esteemed artists Diana Thater, Zheng Chongbin, Jason Salavon and Jan Tichy. And that’s just the beginning, according to Art on theMART Executive Director Cynthia Noble, “The inaugural set of projections, with the high caliber of artists, range of subjects and technological innovation, signals limitless opportunities for artists and cultural organizations to engage audiences from Chicago and around the world.” 

Mayor Rahm Emanuel said the installation “continues the tradition of celebrating iconic art on the Riverwalk … Chicago has long been known for its innovative art, architecture and design, and we are proud to celebrate these inaugural artists as they are interwoven into the fabric of our iconic landscape,” he explained.

More than just a pretty façade, the artists selected are integrating a strong voice and commentary into their works. New media artist Diana Thater’s exhibit True Life Adventures, for example, highlights the imminent danger of poaching to animals in Kenya. The film “mixes together live footage of wild animals living in the Chyulu hills near Mount Kilimanjaro in Kenya,” Thater explains. “The work is not narrative and linear - it is simultaneous - with multiple images inhabiting the screen at once, all moving in different directions at the same time. The accompanying soundtrack was all recorded live in Kenya, to further the exotic but peaceful story of elephants, zebras and giraffe in their native habitat.” 

Zheng Chongbin focuses on pre-modern Daoist concepts, showing the ever-changing nature of energy and matter. His exhibit, Chimeric Landscape, manifests this concept in an expanding blot that transforms theMART into an aperture and void. 

Jason Salavon’s Homage in Between presents reproductions of 20thcentury Chicago-centric paintings, photographs, illustrations and other visual ephemera. 

Artes in Horto – Seven Gardens for Chicago, by Jan Tichy, will feature the work of seven local artists for whom nature was a significant influence. The project is made possible by Obscura Digital, known for its large-scale architectural projection mapping on buildings across the globe. 

The launch of the installation takes place at 6:30 p.m. on September 29, when the city will close Wacker Drive between North Wells and North Orleans streets to enable public viewing. The unveiling of the project coincides with Chicago’s EXPO ART WEEK, which runs from September 24 to 30, and features select museum exhibitions, gallery openings and other arts programming throughout the city. Check out EXPO CHICAGO at Navy Pier, September 27-30.