Art in the City

Historic Fort Worth tower to light up with high-tech art for 2 nights

Historic Fort Worth tower to light up with high-tech art for 2 nights

Pioneer Tower, Refik Anadol and Quayola
Pioneer Tower will light up with a high-tech art installation for two nights only. Courtesy of Fort Worth Public Art

The 204-foot-tall Pioneer Tower at Will Rogers Memorial Center will light up as a beacon of Fort Worth art and life for two nights only this summer.

To mark its 20th year, Fort Worth Public Art — a city program run by the Arts Council of Fort Worth — will illuminate all four sides of the tower with new large-scale, high-tech media installations created from photos and memories submitted by Fort Worth residents. They'll be on display August 20-21 only and will be free to view, a release says.

The works are the creations of Los Angeles-based artist Refik Anadol and Rome- and London-based artist Quayola, who used cutting-edge artificial intelligence and data visualization technology to create their works. 

"For Pioneer Tower Dreams, Refik Anadol captures and reimagines Fort Worth citizens’ memories of the city using machine learning algorithms," the release explains. "Texas Surveys: New Pointillism, Landscape Scans and Horse Paintings by Quayola explore the natural beauty of Fort Worth through what he calls 'computational paintings,' which visualize data captured from sources such as laser-scanned trees or the motion-captured movement of horses."

The groundbreaking works will premiere as the first of four major public art projects across Fort Worth, FWPA says. The Pioneer Tower project was commissioned by the City of Fort Worth, and presented in partnership with public arts organization AURORA.

“This first-of-its-kind event will celebrate Fort Worth’s collective memories and natural beauty in a big way through a marriage of art and cutting-edge technology by two of the most prominent new media artists in the world today," says Martha Peters, director of Public Art, Arts Council of Fort Worth, in the release.

The historic Pioneer Tower was refurbished in 2019, including a recreation of its iconic glass brick windows and updating of its internal lighting system. AURORA co-founders Joshua King and Shane Pennington worked with the FWPA program to ensure the tower’s infrastructure could handle the data and energy needed for large-scale projected video installations such as these, the FWPA says. 

Last fall, the organization asked Fort Worth residents to submit photos and memories for something they were calling an "urban-scale interactive artwork." Submissions could be visual, textural, or both and would "contribute to a vast pool of data that the machine mind will process as the city's collective memory." 

To celebrate the unveiling of the project, the Arts Council of Fort Worth and AURORA are partnering to organize a supporting exhibition of technology-based art, curated by Lauren Cross.

“The Arts Council, in partnership with AURORA, is excited to welcome the entire community to the Cultural District to experience the Pioneer Tower premiere alongside works of talented and diverse local and regional artists," says Karen Wiley, president and CEO of the Arts Council of Fort Worth.

Read more about the artists chosen for the Pioneer Tower project and view a preview of it here and here.