We live in magical times. Well, it might not always feel that way! But it can be a shock to realize that even 15 years ago, we didn’t have near-instant access to the world’s knowledge in our pockets and purses. Technology continues to quietly shape our world, and our adaptable minds have sought the patterns we need to thrive. In the installation Madness Method, the artists have built a special arrangement of 200 lanterns that look like an intriguing, flickering mess—until you step on just the right spot along the canal and see it all converge: a little bit of magic.
Madness Method is 216 computer-controlled lanterns of varying heights that appear chaotically arranged, flickering and changing in seemingly random patterns. As visitors move along the C&O Canal towpath, patterns slowly become apparent in the placement and brightness of the lights. From a special, marked viewpoint, the lanterns snap into alignment as a grid, acting as “pixels” in a larger display. The pixels show a stream of simple images, animations, and text marquees that address themes of clarity, unification, human universality and connectedness.
About the artists
David Greenfieldboyce and Chris Combs are two artists based in Washington, D.C., working together on Madness Method. They connected over their shared interests in art in communities, immersive experiences, and glowing objects. For Madness Method, Chris and David have woven their skills together, building a large installation as small pieces that work collaboratively towards a larger, shared vision. Most of this has been done during the pandemic, with their collaboration taking place through video calls and arm’s-length drop-offs.
David originated and leads the community Mt. Pleasant Lantern Walk, and has created and performed puppet shows for two decades. He studied painting at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and computer science at the University of Maryland.
Chris makes artwork with embedded technology, most recently in his installation Maelstrom at Rhizome DC, and has been showing his work for four years. He was a photo editor for National Geographic and studied photojournalism at the Corcoran College of Art + Design.