The night of Nuit Blanche Calgary was incredible. All of the artists – Emily Promise Allison, Sophie Farewell Collective, Theo Sims, BGL Collective, and Wayne Garrett & myself – had created works we were proud of. As primarily independent artists, we were fortunate to have the resources of Alberta College of Art and Design (the metal shop and the Illingworth Kerr Gallery as a studio space) and the complete support of the staff there (Jason Hussey, Ann Thrale, Tatiana Mellema, Wayne Baerwaldt, and more). We also received substantial funding from amazing sponsors, including Nuit Blanche Calgary, Calgary 2012, Alberta College of Art and Design, The City of Calgary, Calgary Arts Development Authority, and (for CLOUD) The Awesome Foundation. CLOUD enlisted the volunteer energies of twenty-three+ awesome pals during the course of production, totaling in hundreds if not thousands of man-hours (for a complete list of contributors, see About Cloud). The tiny acts of kindness shown towards this project were phenomenal, from the amazing folks who collected thousands of burnt out light bulbs for us, to the electrician from the City of Calgary who noticed us struggling to get CLOUD working, and spent a whole hour helping us re-wire the sculpture, (“This is just too cool. I’m going to make sure it works for you guys.”) I have infinite gratitude for all the support offered by our friends, families, and enthusiastic strangers.
Personally, though, my biggest thanks goes to my collaborator Wayne Garrett for being endlessly patient and allowing CLOUD to evolve into a true collaboration, where we were both about as invested in the piece as any two happy-go-lucky crazy kids ever could be. For a complete list of Thank Yous, please look here.
The night of Nuit Blanche was incredible. The festival staff had estimated an attendance of 1,000-3,000 people for the first year of the festival, give or take. But when 7 pm finally rolled around, it became immediately evident that their estimation was off by a large sum. 10,000 people showed up, full of pep and vinegar and with the intention to interact-the-hell out of anything interactive.
CLOUD saw monstrous public traffic solidly between 7 pm and 3 am. We hadn’t expected that amount of enthusiasm or longevity to the interaction. Somehow, we also didn’t foresee the look of awe on people’s faces as they stood beneath CLOUD, trying to figure out how it works. It was surprising how mysterious the functionality of the CLOUD became – it uses only the simplest mechanisms (ON, OFF, PULL) and the most familiar domestic objects (everyday light-bulbs and pull strings). These are thing we all know and understand. And yet, something about it’s form and brilliance struck viewers on a more internal level, allowing them to loiter happily, mesmerized by the glow of the bulbs above them.
I heard a story later from a woman who has three disabled children. She was at Nuit Blanche Calgary with her kids. She said that her kids usually have huge anxiety around strangers, and it’s really difficult to get them to interact with things, but for some reason CLOUD was different. Her 13-year old son ran straight for CLOUD and began pulling strings, and he and her younger daughters spent several hours pulling every string they possibly could, playing with strangers, and having the most marvelous time. They were still talking about it a week later. How cool is that?
Of course, for Wayne Garrett and myself, Nuit Blanche was a delicate balance between trying to enjoy ourselves in the company of friends and new-friends, and knowing that tear-down would begin at 3 am. We conserved our energy, and snuck home at 2:45 for (literally) a 15-minute nap and a change of clothes (it got really cold! Especially with so little sleep in the nights leading up to Nuit Blanche). Take down was sketchy (photos to come) but the after-glow of CLOUD makes it all worth while.