1. ORD, Chicago, Illinois
Sky’s The Limit. Michael Hayden, 1987. Neon lights, computer control system and music by George Gershwin.
Also known as Gershwin’s tunnel, Sky’s The Limit is Canadian contemporary artist, Michael Hayden’s best-known commission. Located between Concourse B and C of Terminal 1 in Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, it is the world’s largest neon sculpture. Commissioned by United Airlines, and erected in 1987, this kinetic sculpture is comprised of 466 neon tubes, the equivalent of over a mile when stretched out. Three computers control the light patterns, which never repeat, offering an ambient undulation of color, which is further heightened by glowing pastel walls that completely enclose the underground motorized-walkway. Often, the experience is accompanied with music by George Gershwin, whose famous composition, Rhapsody in Blue was adopted as United’s theme in 1966.
Most notable is its choice of location and the nature of the moving walkway. Devised in 1893, the moving walkway was designed to increase the rate of foot travel, and although the installation is of reasonable notoriety, often passengers find themselves running through it in order to catch a flight, reducing the piece to a surrealistic blur in their memories, simply another passage through the Chicago subterranean.