Back in Time: Night Before Nuit Blanche

 The last night before Nuit Blanche was a stressful crunch – Wayne, Clare, Eric and myself were on-site bulbing and wiring until 3:30 in the morning. There were loads of problems – we couldn’t get the CLOUD to properly light up without blowing the breakers. We’d also been delayed by a slight problem with our designs. At 3:30 in the afternoon, the City of Calgary had come to do a Building Inspection, a required procedure requested by the City before granting a Building Permit, and therefore before our piece could be approved for interaction with “The General Public,” a looming and mysterious entity. The point of the inspection was to ensure that the structure was built directly to the engineer’s specs. The engineer-stamped drawings for CLOUD were designed so that a grown man could swing off the arm of the structure without sending the piece crashing down on top of the audience below. Obviously this is the worst possible scenario outside of earthquakes or typhoon winds, but needs to be accounted for when dealing with public drunkenness, roughness, and the unpredictability of downtown Calgary at night. Basically, we were in a position where, if the sculpture didn’t pass the Building Inspection, CLOUD couldn’t be touched or interacted with during Nuit Blanche. We were super confident that everything would go perfectly. Of course, curve-balls always come at the very last minute…

During the inspection, we were informed that we’d forgotten to include four steel armatures when welding the internal structure of the CLOUD. Obviously, this was a cause for super-mega-stress on my part – there was so much to do, and so much to get done, and now we had to add new steel to the inside of the structure (which was already wired and full of delicate light bulbs) to appease the City? I was tired, frustrated, and ready to throw in the towel. Lucky for me, Wayne is a superstar, and faster than I could burst into tears, he was on top of the matter, calling our steel supplier to get the parts cut, locating the welder, making calculations…

The photos you don’t see here are of Wayne adding these parts. I was too frustrated to take any pictures, thus documenting my own annoyance. But, in the end, I think Wayne and I were both glad that we’d added the extra supports. More about that later…

That night had more challenges in store for us: at one point around 2:30 am, I had to chase three people out of the back of our supply truck and down the street to see if they’d stolen anything. I caught them, and was subsequently uncertain what to do with them then (seriously, what do you do at that point?) Then, on our way home, Wayne’s car broke down, and he had to crawl underneath his car and bang on the clutch-fluid compartment with an axe. All in all, we made it home by 4 am, just in time to sleep a few hours before starting back at the damn thing all over again.

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