Everything’s bigger in Vegas—and blingier and brighter too—and this year that goes double for experiential art as TRANSFIX opens a choose-your-own-adventure concourse of more than 50 interactive light, sound, video, lasers, digital media, and occasionally fire-based sculptures and installations face to face with the Strip. The spactacle’s presence is announced by the towering, benevolent glow of artist Marco Cochrane’s R-Evolution—a 45 foot tall, gently kinetic and luminous woman staring across Las Vegas Blvd. at the Wynn and Encore properties. She is made of light but remains a monumental, statuesque presence throughout the day as well, guiding the curious toward the Resorts World Las Vegas.

transfix las vegas

Marco Cochrane: R-Evolution at TRANSFIX Las Vegas (Photo by Chelsa Christensen)

The Hilton folks have turned over a 200,000 square-foot (nearly five acres) parcel of land to a team of creatives with big ideas. The leadership includes architecture and events professionals with a collective background from the clubs of New York City to the burns of Black Rock City—but the brilliant family of artists and builders is in the hundreds.

The results combine Burning Man with EDM/EDC aesthetics in an elevated production that’s by turns psychedelic, ancestral, futuristic and folksy, funny and spiritual, participatory, photogenic, optimistic, analog and tech-forward, and above all full of surprises. It’s no small thing to balance the hyperstimulation of Vegas-bound audiences’ expectations with the meaningful and ultimately personal journey of thoughtful works of art. Perhaps the biggest surprise of all—and the greatest testament to the talents of the entire staff and crew—is how well TRANSFIX pulls it off.

3 PLAYMODES Stellar Photo by Chelsa Christensen

PLAYMODES: Stellar at TRANSFIX Las Vegas (Photo by Chelsa Christensen)

Co-founded by Michael Blatter and Tom Stinchfield, with a cohort of partners that includes architect Marc Dizon, experience producer Heather Gallagher (the executive leader of technology and design services for Burning Man for 17 years), and curator and experience designer Meranda Carter (who, fun fact, once interned at the L.A. Weekly before going on to become one the most sought-after experts in this emerging art genre), TRANSFIX exists with the goal to “foster a global creative economy, build a strong community, and support innovative artists of all backgrounds, while encouraging participation and personal creative discovery.

2 Gabriel Pulecio Infinity V2 Photo by Chelsa Christensen

Gabriel Pulecio: Infinity V2 at TRANSFIX Las Vegas (Photo by Chelsa Christensen)

Stinchfield in particular likes to say that instead of a dance party with some art, it’s art with a little dance party. Central to this is the inclusion of music and sound in many of the individual works, as well as a towering “stage” called Axion—a massive, temple-like scaffold of sacred geometry by light artist Christopher Bauder and composer KiNK—which in addition to its own psychedelic respite for audiences, serves as a platform for the show’s occasional dance parties.

Dizon, an architect and New York to Los Angeles transplant who helped guide the art team and conceptualize the experience of the space, tells L.A. Weekly about his inspired merging of an elevated outdoor museum with a narrative of adventure and discovery. “We thought a lot about the labyrinth, the cinematic sightlines, the organic flow of an unfolding story,” he says. “And then it needed to function as a venue for music activations as well—for mini-festivals of up to 9,000 people.”

Dizon’s background in large-scale civic and museum architecture (and turning at least one ancient Roman church into a nightclub) directly informed this process, as well as his site-specific aesthetic for the Vegas iteration—one which will evolve, compress, expand, and localize as the experience tours through other cities and more rural places. “This is an incredible platform for artists to shine,” Dizon says. “And the technology will keep pace as TRANSFIX moves forward and evolves.”

Christopher Schardt Paraluna Photo by Chelsa Christensen

Christopher Schardt: Paraluna at TRANSFIX Las Vegas (Photo by Chelsa Christensen)

So just how did this team of Superfriends come together? Stinchfield was running marketing for a big company and his mentor introduced him to Michael Blatter. “What I didn’t know is on the other side of that, she was calling Michael and saying, Hey, you need to take this guy to Burning Man, he needs to reset himself creatively,” he tells L.A. Weekly. “This is 10-11 years ago, we became fast friends—and we were both so inspired by the heart that goes into the art at Burning Man and we wanted to see a way we could support that and bring that level of experience to a wider audience—and get the artists paid for their work! TRANSFIX is not a gallery, it’s not a museum—there are too many gatekeepers when it comes to how art is valued.”

At the same time, they’re also elevating the conceptual and innovational aspects of what “immersive” can mean. “Touch the art, climb on top of it, become part of the art! That’s what immersive is, or can be,” says Stinchfield. “It’s just not seeing things around you. It’s actually having to use your body and physically engage with a piece to actually complete it.”

Kate Raudenbushs As Above So Below. Courtesy the artist and TRANSFIX

Kate Raudenbush: As Above So Below (Courtesy of the artist and TRANSFIX)

Examples of this interactive activation dynamic abound. For example, Todd Moyer’s Fluidic, a projection-mapped video artwork in which viewers’ motions churn digital lava lamps on a screen; Pablo González Vargas’ 37 foot tall interactive light and sound sculpture ILUMINA, which is powered by the collective energy and flow of its participants; HYBYCOZO’s delightful light-casting lanterns that love it when you spin them; and Gabriel Pulecio’s Lustix which generates seductive pattern-based illusions with light nodes and motion inside a shipping container. One piece that is not interactive is Duane Flatmo’s absolutely legendary art car, El Pulpo Magnifico, whose celebrity status was cemented in The Simpsons’ Burning Man episode; it spits fire and you should definitely not touch or climb it.

Duane Flatmo EL Pulpo Magnifico Photo by Chelsa Christensen

Duane Flatmo: El Pulpo Magnifico at TRANSFIX Las Vegas (Photo by Chelsa Christensen)

Pulecio also made the Infinity Room, Infinity V2, inside a shipping container, expanding on the both the over design motif of industrial repurposing, and the magic of the hidden, secret experiences that bloom inside them. “I really dig the new media gallery and Burning Man aesthetics merging together,” he tells L.A. Weekly. “Especially in the [Vegas] environment. My career started in Los Angeles with the Lightning in a Bottle folks about 9-10 years ago,” he says, which explains his commitment to portable, memorable art experiences.

“I’m excited to bring that kind of experience to enrich a different public, there’s such a range of people in Vegas. I’ve mostly been in the gallery, museum, festival world; this breaks out of that niche,” Pulecio says, “being able to show outside the circle of new media galleries. I quit art school because it was too solipsistic, I didn’t want to play that game. TRANSFIX is wild, immersive, interactive—you don’t need to know anything about art to get it, to see and feel new things. You have to move your body, you have to discover, look around, be present. You’re in it!”

1 David Oliver Petaled Portal

David Oliver: Petaled Portal at TRANSFIX Las Vegas (Photo by Chelsa Christensen)

David Oliver’s Petaled Portal is in some ways exactly what it sounds like—and in other, less obvious ways, it’s so much more. An artist accustomed to working on large and small festival installations, Oliver’s love of site-responsive design and staging, and his talent for creating monumental, intricate works that focus the eye, the mind, the body, and the camera on the experience of presence made him an ideal choice for the TRANSFIX vision. “I started drawing this work then mocking it up in templates, and settling it by sight—before I realized that it was all based on sacred geometry, the number 9,” he tells L.A. Weekly. “It was an organic process but then I realized it was locked into universal equations.”

3 PLAYMODES Stellar Photo by Chelsa Christensen 1

PLAYMODES: Stellar at TRANSFIX Las Vegas (Photo by Chelsa Christensen)

Christy Corda/Playmodes designed the TRANSFIX entry portal, a Tron-like illuminated tube the size of a small airplane hangar and with the energy of a space station transport (it’s actually called Stellar), which all visitors must enter and pause within for a short sound, music, and light show that intentionally reorients your perception and grounds you in the new place you are about to enter. Like fresh ginger, this cognitive palette cleanser helps you shake off the casino energy just enough, and sets you up for a more pure mental flow within the experience to come.

“I was working in media, brand activations, interactive experiences, but it just wasn’t speaking to me,” says Corda. “I wanted to make it come alive. When the TRANSFIX reached out to us in 2020, it was an immediate yes. And it’s an honor to be showing among some of the greatest artists in the world; it’s an incredible platform to be seen there. With Stellar, everything is original and hand-made from the architecture and lights to the sound and music. I love that we’re the entrance to the whole thing, it’s a chance for a real cognitive reset. It’s an emotional transport as well as a physical one. You are present. You have no choice,” she says. “You’re in it.”

Studio RRD Ripple Photo by Chelsa Christensen

Studio RRD: Ripple at TRANSFIX Las Vegas (Photo by Chelsa Christensen)

“No one has actually done what we’ve done,” Meranda Carter tells L.A. Weekly. “We wanted it to be a celebration of life. We’ve learned a lot, and we’ve really had to assemble a smart and incredible team in order to get this done. Our artists coming in, trusting us for up to three years for some of their projects is remarkable. I started my time at the company by just calling every artist I could think of and just having open conversations with them about their work and where they’re at in their careers. I talked to over 400 artists in the last two years! This kind of work needs to be seen by so many more people, because it’s impactful and not only in scale but in their stories and approaches,” she says.

“Seeing folks wander around and experience the art gave me chills,” Carter says, in a sentiment echoed by every team member and artist we spoke to. “I was very excited to see that open engagement and play and curiosity, because that’s what we’re all about.”


TRANSFIX remains installed through September, with special events planned throughout. For more information visit transfixart.com, and follow the journeys it inspires at instagram.com/transfixart.


Pablo Gonzalez Vargas ILUMINA. Coursey the artist and TRANSFIX.

Pablo González Vargas: ILUMINA (Courtesy the artist and TRANSFIX)

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