You don’t need any video game skills to make these new light-up wheels that look like something straight out of the Tron movies work.
The new art exhibit called Loop puts you and a partner inside a light-up wheel right out of the retro future, which also double as a mini movie theater.
Located on Broadway between West 37th and 38th streets in the Garment District, the 7-foot-wide cylinders will need you and a friend to cooperate by pushing and pulling on the lever inside to make them light up.
As you work, the six wheels also play a 24-frame movie of a fairy tale, like a toad turning into a prince, along their inner and outer walls. There are 13 different movies, each with their own soundtracks, and the speed of the images and tempo of the tune change depending on how fast you move the lever.
Despite the resemblance, the creators of Loop didn’t actually have Tron in mind when they built it. The giant wheels were inspired by a zoetrope, the 19th-century precursor to the film projector that was a cylinder with images of a simple motion pasted along its interior walls that could be turned to animate them.
Loop was commissioned by Canada’s Quartier des Spectacles Partnership for its Luminothérapie winter festival, which has been dazzling lucky Canadians with various interactive light-up objects for the past seven years. This is the first time they’ve decided to lend out one of the light contraptions to the U.S.
The art installation also nods to the Garment District’s creative economy, which includes over 100 theaters, galleries, performance spaces and studios.
“As a neighborhood that is an epicenter for creativity in New York City, we are so proud that the Garment District was selected as Loop’s first-ever activation in the United States,” says Barbara A. Blair, president of the nonprofit Garment District Alliance, which brought the work to the city along with NYC DOT Art.
The installation is free and will be open through March 31.