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Manhattan Project

Welcome to the jungle: "Times Square" beckons visitors into a virtual New York.
Muriel Magenta

There's a special rush that strikes you when you're standing in Times Square after the sun goes down. Throngs of hurried people stream down the sidewalks, taxis zoom by with horns honking, the air is filled with throbbing energy and random strains of music. Out of the commotion, shooting into the black sky, gleaming, mammoth buildings are ablaze with twinkling marquee lights, glowing neon and brightly illuminated billboards.

Artist Muriel Magenta, who was raised in Manhattan, loves the thrill of the place so much that she directed her talents into re-creating it. "Times Square," a new multimedia exhibition at Arizona State University, is Magenta's exciting, high-tech tribute.

"It's a national treasure that is so fragile, and I want to present it in all its glory," she says.

Using strategically positioned mirrors and DVD projections of computer-designed 3-D animations, Magenta's installation transforms the 25-by-30-foot Computing Commons Gallery into a precious patch of Broadway, making it something for visitors to experience rather than simply to view.

The larger-than-life feeling is enhanced by an ambient soundtrack made from sounds recorded at the real Times Square. Three of Magenta's custom-made video games also add to the interactive environment.

As a professor at ASU's School of Art and an artist-in-residence at the Institute for Studies in the Arts, Magenta gladly took the opportunity to bring her own vision of Times Square to the community. She altered colors and textures of buildings, and filled in the billboards with her own work. "I literally changed my art to fit Broadway," she says, "and I changed Broadway to fit my art."

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