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Amanda Ross-Ho transforms MCA Chicago's plaza into an open air photo studio
Photographic lighting technique illustration, source material for Amanda Ross-Ho's 2013 Plaza Project at the MCA Chicago. Courtesy and copyright David Brooks.

CHICAGO, IL.- Chicago-born, Los Angeles-based artist Amanda Ross-Ho premieres her first major public art project, THE CHARACTER AND SHAPE OF ILLUMINATED THINGS, on the plaza of the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) Chicago this summer. Ross-Ho transforms the museum’s plaza into an open air photo studio, with larger-than-life still-life models that the public are invited to engage with and photograph. MCA Chicago Plaza Project: Amanda Ross-Ho is on view July 23 to November 2013, and is organized by MCA Curator Julie Rodrigues Widholm.

The title of the exhibition is adapted from a 1980 photography handbook, How to Control and Use Photographic Lighting. In the manual, the author illustrates how different lighting affects three still-life objects -- a cube, a sphere, and a female mannequin’s head, all painted muted gray. Inspired by this fundamental lesson, Ross-Ho re-creates this trio of objects on a monolithic scale, faithful to the original image, with the mannequin head reaching 25-feet high.

Completing the installation is a large-scale sculptural rendering of a color calibration card -- the color grid that is used to maintain accuracy in the printing and post-production of color photography. By including this card, Ross-Ho consciously disrupts the gray composition. The visual experience of this site-specific installation changes over the course of the day as it responds to the path of the sun – which is the evershifting light source for this enormous still life.

Ross-Ho creates her sculptures to be photographic subjects and invites viewers to photograph them and share the images through social media (twitter, instagram, #illuminatedthings). She wants to collect and share these images in an image archive and invites visitors to email her their photographs of the installation to as a comment on the circulation and recycling of images. She hopes this community project shows how the looping and sharing affects the production of aesthetic objects and access to them. With the accessibility of digital cameras and smart phones, Ross-Ho explores how such technologies shape our perception and reception of everyday encounters, and how the act of seeing today is mediated by such technologies.

This exhibition is part of the MCA’s ongoing commitment to extending art into the community and enlivening Chicago's landscape with contemporary art beyond the museum walls. Amanda Ross-Ho is the third artist to be chosen for the MCA Chicago's Plaza Project, which has previously featured work by Mark Handforth (2011) and Martin Creed (2012).

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