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How Blue Man Group's Chris Wink created an art 'funhouse' in Las Vegas to delve into

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Posted at 2:07 PM, Aug 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-21 04:13:48-04

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — His big idea came to him in a bathroom.

After helping to create one of the most iconic and influential pieces of performance art to grace popular culture, Chris Wink wanted to share something new with the world.

“When we show up on The Simpsons or Family Guy as cartoon form, then you start to go, ‘Ok that’s weird in a good way,’” he said with a laugh. “That was more interesting to me than some kind of nomination that we got or whatever.”

Wink is one of the co-founders of “Blue Man Group.”

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As he tells it, after the show’s international success, he began to “just be an artist again.” Re-purposing everyday objects and experimenting with black lights and neon inside the confined space of his New York bathroom.

“I learned a lot at Blue Man about staging, lighting, design,” he said. “I just started playing again. Like a kid.”

It was in that space where the idea for “Wink World” was born.

"Wink World: Portals into the Infinite” is a multi-media art experience at AREA15 in Las Vegas. Both it and “Blue Man Group" are immersive, but unlike theater, “Wink World” is a physical world you step into.

“It’s an exhibit,” Wink explained. “Or even more akin to a carnival or funhouse that you are moving through.”

Whatever it is, it's a trip. The space is lit with black lights as infinity mirrors reflect your image alongside glowing objects that bounce, inflate and contrast.

“I am interested in how the movement evokes the living,” Wink said. “Not just the humans but the natural world.”

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A wall fixture that spins when touched at Chris Wink's "Wink World" multi-media art experience at AREA15 as seen in August 2021. (Amy Abdelsayed, 13 Action News)

In “Wink World,” Wink does what he has mastered throughout his career as a multi-media artist. He brings several elements together — the physical space you walk through, the re-purposed objects dangling from the ceiling, music and sound — and creates something that’s almost alive.

In one room, for example, plastic toy spheres expand and constrict to the sound of breath, creating an illusion that they are filling their lungs with air.

In many ways, Wink says life is his inspiration as an artist.

“I want my work to always be celebrating the beauty of nature,” he said. “Even though there isn’t really any nature in the work at all.”

“I don’t have any trees,” he explained, “but the fractal pattern, the colors. I think subliminally — my biggest inspiration is nature because there is this incredible feature of it that there is repetition and pattern, but there is always uniqueness and complexity.”

Uniqueness and complexity could also be used when describing his work, which consists of several different elements at once coming together to tell a larger story.

At times, Wink brings in other artists to help contribute to that story.

Lucy Weld is a singer and songwriter from New York. Her song “Loving Tone” plays inside “Wink World” as part of the experience, along with other songs that are both originals by Wink and ones that are remixed by him from other artists.

“It’s a special song. It’s the only song that has real lyrics to it, the other songs are more instrumental,” Wink said of “Loving Tone.”

The collaboration works both ways. Weld recently released a music video produced by Wink and Chris Dyas for the song set entirely at “Wink World.” You can watch the music video below.

WATCH | Lucy Weld's 'Loving Tone' music video:

Wink also partnered with his friend and artist Alex Aliume for a gallery people can enjoy while they wait in line.

“We got the 3D glasses you can put on and it really kind of sets the tone. His work is a little more spiritual and mine is a little more whimsical,” said Wink. “But I thought that would be a nice combination.”

It is a nice combination. Maybe because the spirituality seems to align with his overall purpose.

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A closer look at one of Alex Aliume's art pieces hanging at "Wink World" at AREA15 in Las Vegas as seen in August 2021. (Amy Abdelsayed, 13 Action News)

“You know, I get embarrassed when I tell the truth because it’s corny,” Wink confessed.

“But the real thing I would love people to take away from ‘Wink World’ is, it's freaking great to be alive and there’s so much to be thankful for, even though there’s a lot going on that’s heavy.”

And as you leave the experience, reverberating in the last room is Weld’s raspy, bluesy voice singing, “These are such uncertain times, but everything will be just fine.”

Tickets to “Wink World: Portals Into The Infinite” range from $18 to $25 depending on when you go. To buy tickets or learn more about the attraction visit area15.com.

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