May 30, 2016
On Memorial Day, we are asked to honor and remember the veterans who have served our country in armed combat. It’s a way for us to give reverence to the hardships and sacrifices of generations of soldiers and connect with our own national history.
This Memorial Day, thanks to a clever use of technology by the artists at Sing London, we have an opportunity to connect in a wholly original way with great figures from the past.
Walking through Lincoln Park, Chicago
Walk through Lincoln Park in Chicago, just north of the LaSalle tunnel, and you’ll find a striking statue of Abraham Lincoln standing on a platform in front of an ornate chair. Of the six outdoor Lincoln statues in Chicago, this one is widely regarded as the best and was built a short nineteen years after the President’s death. For over a century, it has been a fixture of the park.
But this year, there is something new. Near Lincoln is a sign posted by Sing London with a QR code. Using a smartphone, a passerby can input a short URL or scan the QR code. A few moments later, their phone will ring with a call from someone claiming to be Lincoln.
It is comedian and actor John C. Reilly reading a monologue written by Scott Turow in the voice of Abraham Lincoln. The monologue will go on to talk about Lincoln’s life and the relevance of the statue in the park.
Lincoln isn’t alone. Across Chicago, there are thirty statues in total with stories to tell. Each one gives a short monologue about who they are, why they are important, and what you can take from their story. Some are iconic American figures like Benjamin Franklin (Written by Molly Regan, Read by Frank Galati) who stands just a few dozen yards from Lincoln. Others are more abstract, such as the Brachiosaurus in Grant Park outside the Field Museum. Even Cloud Gate (mistakenly referred to as “the Bean”) has actor David Schwimmer delivering the story of the popular sculpture.
“As a native Chicagoan I was really honored to give voice to the statue of Lincoln, a statue I’ve spent many hours staring up at, imagining what he had to say.”
— John C. Reilly
About Sing London
The art project was originally pioneered in London and Manchester England by the non-profit organization, Sing London, in 2014. Sing London “produces participatory installations and events which aim to lift the public’s spirit.” This is the first of their projects to include a technology component, but each has been interactive.
Another project, “Ping London,” involved setting up open and free ping pong tables around London, and through the “Wonderpass” project, Sing London turned a dingy city underpass on Bakers Street into a bright, colorful history tour.
Talking Statues and Statue Stories were received so favorably in London and Manchester that more cities continue to commission the work. Chicago is the third, and an upcoming release in Berlin would make the fourth location to receive Statue Stories.
Talk to a Statue this Memorial Day
We celebrate holidays to keep the memories of the past alive. This Memorial Day, we have the opportunity to engage with the words of past military, cultural, and historical figures in a way we’ve never done before. Take a walk, bring your smartphone, and answer a call from Lincoln.
The Statues Stories will be open throughout Chicago until August 2016.
Like what you read?
Mindsight, a Chicago IT services provider, is an extension of your team. Our culture is built on transparency and trust, and our team is made up of extraordinary people – the kinds of people you would hire. We have one of the largest expert-level engineering teams delivering the full spectrum of IT services and solutions, from cloud to infrastructure, collaboration to contact center. Our highly-certified engineers and process-oriented excellence have certainly been key to our success. But what really sets us apart is our straightforward and honest approach to every conversation, whether it is for an emerging business or global enterprise. Our customers rely on our thought leadership, responsiveness, and dedication to solving their toughest technology challenges.
For Further Reading: