Process of creating "Chasing Light"


In my public and installation based work I sculpt spaces that are “tuned” for multi-sensory experiences. My interdisciplinary practice spans video, animation and music and I am especially interested in interactive and generative works that create a visual and musical dialogue to encourage artistic collaboration between myself and the community. I generally start with the music track by making determinations of the kind of composition I wish to have. For this work my husband and composer Mark Menza created a 21st century modern chamber musical work. Once the composition is completed I import the file into editing software and start to visualize the sound through a combination of animation and in camera visuals. For my generative based works the music is actually “driving” the visual component through programmed and interactive components. "Chasing Light" is a sculpted sensory environment that draws attention to our social interaction and communication. A main component in this visual installation utilizes software that generatively responds to audio input. Using algorithms in software these sounds are translated into visual distortions projected onto the LED panels, making for an immediate and wonderfully personal experience. As each musician plays, their notes will trigger digital visualizations in a digital dialogue where sound and light are orchestrated within the space.

Michael J Sanders
One Love Manassas

One Love Manassas –
A Celebration of Life with the Arts

City of Manassas, VA . . . On April 26 – 28, the City of Manassas and Historic Manassas, Inc. will host One Love Manassas.  This three-day multi-media art event features live music, a juried art competition, a film showcase, Chasing Light - a 3D music and light interactive experience.   The weekend is designed to give artists a platform to perform, share and leverage their art.  It is a celebration of life with the arts.  The following are some of the events and performances during the weekend.

During the weekend event, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts is bringing their Artmobile to the Center for the Arts parking lot and will be open to the public for tours throughout the weekend.  This innovative art experience is on its inaugural tour of the Commonwealth and features a collection of works by Virginia artists Sally Mann, Benjamin Wigfall, and Nell Blaine, to name a few.

From 6 – 9 p.m. on April 26, there will be a juried art reception at the Center for the Arts featuring the work of artists from the National Capital Region.  More than 250 pieces were submitted and juried down to about 80 pieces that will hang in the Center for the Arts gallery and Jirani Coffee House.  At 7 p.m. awards will be given to the top pieces of this competition.

April 26, from 7 – 9 p.m. view about 20 films out of 328 films submitted from all over the country for the One Love Manassas Film Showcase.  The film showcase will be held on the third floor of the Center for the Arts.

Live musical performances will be held the entire weekend.  On Friday night, performances will be held from 6 – 10 p.m. at the Harris Pavilion.  On Saturday the Main Stage will be on Center Street near Main Street.  Saturday’s headliner is recording artist Aaron Cole at 4 p.m.  Aaron Cole, recently on tour with Toby Mac, seamlessly bridges the gap between rapping and singing.  His musical influences include the soulful melodies of Stevie Wonder, the versatility of Mali Music and the grooves and lyricism of Jon Bellion.  On Sunday, at the Harris Pavilion, music performance will feature inspirational music to include at 2 p.m. over 100 singers in the Voices United choir.

On Saturday, April 27 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. join the City of Manassas, Manassas City Public Schools and the Prince William Library System for Manassas Reads.  This free literary art event features free books, face painting, local celebrity readers, Manassas Therapy Dogs, crafts, a photo booth and lots of fun.  Books are available in both English and Spanish.

Other featured events during the day on Saturday, April 27, include the Battle of the Artists chalk art competition on Battle Street, an Artist Marketplace on Center Street, artist workshops, live portrait painting at Calico Jacks by Creative Brush Studio, live music on the main stage and more.

As the day turns into evening, participants are asked to make their way down to the Harris Pavilion to grab a light globe to carry over to the Museum Lawn.  This procession is called “Turn on your Light” and hopes to inspire folks to shine their light for others.  The procession will end on the lawn with a live art re-creation of the One Love logo. On the Museum Lawn the City of Manassas is hosting a new 3D art installation called Chasing Light.  This was made possible with a grant from the Virginia Commission of the Arts.  Dallas artist Carmen Menza created the first-of-its kind 3D projected visual and music installation for the Manassas Museum lawn.  Music Composer Mark Menza has specially created a piece of music to go with this installation and musicians who wish to play along can find the piece and music at<>.   The Manassas Ballet Theatre will perform to Chasing Light at 9 p.m.

From 7 – 10 p.m. at the Center for the Arts, join world-renowned swing dancer and teacher eWA Burak and dance to music from the Silver Tones Swing Band.

Workshops throughout the weekend include: Asian Brush Painting, Instructional Egg Tempera, Making Peace: A mindfulness through art workshop, The Inspiration of Clouds, Belly Dancing Workshop, Zentangle Method Workshop, Dance and Movement workshop, A conversation with Cathy Davis, author of Myracles, and more.  Information and times for these workshops and events can be found at<>.

Michael J Sanders
Chasing Light (Press Release)

City of Manassas, Virginia
9027 Center Street, Manassas, VA 20110

For Immediate Release
Feb. 19, 2019

NR# 003
Contact: Patty Prince
703-257-8456 or 703-895-6535

Chasing Light

Chasing Light is a new art/light/music installation that will be held during the Manassas One Love Arts Festival on Saturday, April 27. It is not meant to be the kind of performance that folks sit and watch, but participate in.

Dallas artist Carmen Menza will produce the first-of-its kind 3D projected visual and music installation on the Manassas Museum lawn. Menza hopes that visitors will connect with others and says that participatory public art affords us the experience of making something beautiful with those around us and strengthening a sense of community. The multi-level art installation will include 3D projected visuals and Chasing Light, an original musical score created by Mark Menza, a Dallas composer and Carmen’s husband.

Chasing Light, which Mark Menza wrote specifically for the City of Manassas, is a 21st century chamber piece that employs both recorded and live players and is juxtaposed to electronic and sampled sounds. Because a strong central element of this work is improvisation--using elements of jazz, philharmonic, soundscape, and an electronic score—it lends itself to improvisation by musicians at the event.

A copy of the musical score will be released prior to the event and musicians who want to participate on the night of the performance will be invited to join performers on stage. The music that community musicians perform will also trigger elements of the 3D light show and will continually transform throughout the evening. The projected visuals include abstract illuminated backgrounds and geometric objects created through camera shots and 3D software.

Mark Menza’s work may be familiar to those who have attended Manassas Ballet performances of Colin: Son, Marine, Hero, an original work that reflects on the life of the Ballet’s Artistic Director Amy Grant Wolfe’s son Colin, who was killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq in 2006. Menza created the original musical score for the ballet, which premiered in 2013 to national acclaim. The Manassas Ballet will be premiering Chasing Light at their March performance of A Fantasque Evening at the Hylton Performing Arts Center. Spoken word artists and dancers are also invited to collaborate during the continuous performance. The underlying music will serve as a soundscape for those who perform spoken word and poetry as they are invited to take the stage alongside musicians and dancers throughout the evening.

Carmen Menza has works in several prominent public spaces including The McKinney Avenue Contemporary and the Aurora Light and Sound Biennial, both in Dallas. The Aurora event had more than 60,000 visitors.

The second annual One Love Manassas Festival, which will be held April 26 - 28, 2019, is designed to give artists a platform to perform, share their art, raise awareness, and inspire hope for the love of all artistic platforms. The three-day event features a juried art show, Manassas Reads - a literary arts event, performances by local musicians, a film showcase, a marketplace, panels and workshops. Leading up to Chasing Light, weekend participants will walk to the Museum Lawn carrying light orbs in a parade of sorts called Turn on Your Light. Each orb will represent that individual’s Celebration of Life through the arts.

The Virginia Commission for the Arts is sponsoring the Chasing Light installation. Visit or for more information or to see how you can participate in the event. For up-to-date information about One Love Manassas, text the word OneLove (all one word) to 888-777. You can opt out at any time.

Photos of the artists are available by request.

Rebekah Raze