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LACMA feels lighthearted

The museum shows off the public's pics of its street-side 'Urban

March 02, 2009|Diane Haithman

By day, he's a mild-mannered information technologist for a downtown law firm; by night, Doug Hein, 41, is the amateur photographer who took the winning shot for the Los Angeles County Museum of Art's Urban Light Project, an online "open call" to the public to create the most memorable image of Chris Burden's public art installation "Urban Light."

The Urban Light Project commemorates the first anniversary of Burden's artwork, a signature fixture on the LACMA plaza since last February. The installation of 202 vintage street lamps stands along the museum's Wilshire Boulevard entrance.

Hein's photo, chosen as the best among more than 1,000 submitted, captures the globe of one of those street lamps juxtaposed with a view of an apparently full moon. Hein does not receive a prize, but his photo will be part of LACMA's online exhibition, which goes live today, and will be on the cover of a print-on-demand book that will include 143 top photo images, as well as several video links and a few writings inspired by Burden's artwork. The book, like the exhibition, is available via LACMA's Unframed blog page, at lacma .wordpress.com.

In an interview, Hein, of Long Beach, said that he took the photo (with a Canon S3 camera) before hearing about LACMA's Urban Light Project. "I took the photo in April of last year and then didn't get around to actually processing it until November," he said. Hein added that he found out about the open call when he went to LACMA's website to get details about Burden's artwork and decided to submit the photo.

As for encountering the full moon, Hein said it was just a lucky break. "My fiancee and I were just sitting around, and she said, 'Put on your jacket and grab your camera,' " Hein said. "She said she had seen something that I would want to take pictures of."

With a deadline of Feb. 14, LACMA invited the public to submit photos, videos and writings of 500 words or less for consideration for an online exhibition.

Charlotte Cotton, head of LACMA's Wallis Annenberg Photography Department and curator of the exhibition, said the project was inspired by the many creative images of the piece that were already turning up on YouTube and the Flickr photo-sharing website. LACMA used Flickr as a conduit for entrants to submit their photos.

"That relationship with 'Urban Light' and citizen photography existed from the beginning," Cotton said. "It just felt like the right time."

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diane.haithman@latimes.com

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