Photos courtesy of InterTrend by Brandon Shigeta.
Downtown pedestrians walking by the Psychic Temple building on Broadway may have noticed that its ground-level windows are no longer draped in red.
Given the chance to step behind the curtains, multiple panels supporting LED light-rendered, traditional Chinese mountains, fill the entirety of the space and make up the backdrop to a proud, brightly lit rooster suspended in the front window.
The installation’s design was hand-sketched by Qing Nian Tang, assisted by Art Directors Jeffery Ma and JunBae Park, whose challenge was to create the Psychic Temple Rooster within the first floor space of the advertising agency’s inspired office building for the Chinese New Year.
The multi-week celebration of the Lunar New Year begins this Saturday, and marks the Year of the Rooster on the Chinese zodiac calendar.
The motion-sensing interactive installation, made of handcrafted glass marble fillings and LED light strips, is designed to change colors when triggered by people walking by. The lights of the rooster and the more than 10 pieces of Chinese landscape panels, are programmed to respond to movement.
“The rooster wakes up the day and is considered to be in charge of the light,” Shenzhan Liao, director of the school of Chinese studies at the China Institute, told the New York Times.
Of the 12 Chinese zodiac signs, the rooster is the 10th year of the zodiac and symbolizes hard work and diligence, and is always the first one awake. Liao said roosters have been viewed for thousands of years “as in charge of time,” according to the Times article.
“[Since] this year is the year of the rooster, we wanted to make [the installation] bright,” Tang told the Post.
Tang, InterTrend’s in-house senior artist who is well known for his calligraphy and Chinese landscape painting in both the US and Beijing, described the installation as a cross between mosaic and cut paper; the myriad LED lights and gems are placed together closely like the tiles of a large mosaic.
“From the beginning we had so many ideas come out, but we tried to keep it traditional,” said Ma, who studied art education at Zhongyang Industrial Art College in Beijing and emigrated to the US in 1991.
You might know Ma as the artist who’s silk-screen print depicting a portrait of Chinese communist leader Mao Zedong alongside George Washington, was removed from an Alhambra City Hall art exhibit in 2007, after a Los Angeles resident submitted a complaint.
“We used the different kinds of motions, used LED, made a different look, but the shape is a very traditional Chinese icon; the mountain view is a tradition of Chinese water color,” he continued.
This is not the first time InterTrend has creatively used the ground floor of the historic Psychic Temple as a way to engage with the public on a cultural level. What used to be the headquarters for a local cult and eventually a flophouse with a dilapidated interior and exterior, is now a multi-use space for the agency.
Those strolling by this year’s installation are encouraged to post pictures and video through Facebook or Instagram using #psychictemplerooster with their estimation of the total number of gemsused.
The person with the closest number will be given a one-year membership to MAEKAN, a new audio visual online publication and a not-for-sale limited edition print by James Jean or Jun Cha.