Where to begin?

Where to begin? Building CLOUD has been a roller coaster for the last few days. Wayne and I spent some time making almost invisible improvements to CLOUD in the metal shop and re-enforcing the structure to our engineer’s specifications – basically making sure that the steel elements of the beast can’t kill anybody. This is actually a huge consideration with public art-making. Did you know? Does that make you feel better? But these precautions also explain why so much public art is made of bronze and marble – these things are tough, man, and almost indestructible. Personally, I’m really excited to be working in a temporary way just to have the freedom to work with ultra delicate materials. There are certain things that you just can’t make with bronze… like clouds.

Anyway, despite getting caught up in the metal shop for several days longer than expected, we still managed to get some face-time in with Andrea MacLean of CTV Calgary. While Andrea’s been by to see CLOUD once already, she came back a couple days ago to shoot a slightly longer feature for CTV Calgary (airing September 4th after the long weekend). Talking with Andrea was pretty cool – while we were messing around “mocking up” fixing bulbs into chicken wire, she was gently inquiring about different parts of the project. At one point, we were talking about how I love it when the things I make can be played with by kids/adults, etc. In reaction to this, she asked “how important is it to you that your work be widely accessible?”

If you’re an artist, you’ll perhaps understand that the knee-jerk response to this question is “it’s not! I don’t care whether or not my work is accessible! I make what I make, and it’s conceptually and theoretically blah blah blah if people get it they get it and if they don’t they blah blah blah!” There’s a tendency to be a little pretentious – after all, to be an expert in your field (art, in this case) don’t you have to alienate at least certain viewers?

The funny thing is, even while talking to Andrea, it occurred to me that, yeah, it IS really important to me that CLOUD be widely accessible. Because accessibility is part of the concept. Isn’t the entire point behind the Light Bulb Drive getting typically non-arts community members involved with a piece of art? Isn’t the idea to create truly interactive interactive artwork? Ideally, wouldn’t it be stellar to make work that can be both conceptually challenging and widely accessible? Maybe not all of the time, but with this project at least. This was a revelation, and I thank Andrea for it.

Speaking of projects that I feel worked in a similar community-interactive way, today is the one-year anniversary of The House Project. The House Project was a collective installation instigated by Ashley Bristowe and Chris Turner as a wedding gift for their friends Sara Simpson and John Johnston. Essentially, myself and seven other artists (Andrew Frosst, Daniel Kirk, Ian Ward, John Frosst, Lane Shordee, Lauren Simms, and Wayne Garrett) took over a Kensington home scheduled for demolition, and re-imagined it completely as a collaborative set of installations. It’s still probably the single coolest thing I’ve ever been involved with… check out The House Project’s blog for photos!

In other news, oh man, do I ever owe a giant thank you to Andrew Cook! Andrew lives in Edmonton (did you know that the City of Edmonton collects burnt out incandescent light bulbs to separate from other garbage?) He went to three separate Eco Station locations to pick up four big boxes of bulbs for us, and then he drove them down to Calgary. As if that wasn’t enough already, he even helped us start attaching the damn things to the sculpture. What a guy! Thanks buggy!

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