Czech-ing out Prague

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After a long and perilous adventure (and much arguing with Russian customs on the part of our our poor host festival + 20-pages of google-translated Cyrillic paperwork care of Wayne Garrett) our bulbous beast from Russia has finally arrived in Prague – mere days before we showed up to repair it for next week’s first inaugural Signal Festival.

Signal is a festival of light – a new context for us. Spawning from the combination of its founding member’s history with Prague’s Institute of Lighting Design and The Macula projection mapping collective, Signal Festival is a free public showcase of light art, projection, 3D mapping, and much more, running the gamut from high-end technologies to lowly incandescent light sculptures. Sponsored by the City of Praha and Praha Tourism, Signal Festival has an excellent line-up – which you can see here – and an even more excellent team of staff. We’ve been treated like kings already – and we’ve only been here 3-days!

Prague is an incredible city. Jet-lagged, bleary-eyed, and sleepless with excitement, Wayne and I wandered along the riverfront on our first day in the Czech Republic, watching the light in the water and honking swarms of swans playing in the lights.

Thinking about CLOUD as light art – rather than exclusively as a sculpture or interactive art – has shifted something in our evolving understandings of the piece. Years ago, we were playing with ideas of reflection and refraction, the spectrum of visible light, colour, and perception. “Light Art” implicates these principles gently, referencing a whole series of more scientific observations about light, while also simply indicating the perceptual power of light. Light is awesome, primal, and extremely physiologically attractive – and maybe that’s all there is to it.

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On our way to Prague, we weren’t sure what to expect. Transporting the Russian CLOUD has been a struggle. While we are grateful to Garage Center for Contemporary Culture for sponsoring the piece and permitting us to maintain ownership of it, it was immediately evident that exporting a 1000-pound art object made from steel and glass out of a country with an intense history of bribery, corruption and bureaucracy would be no mean feat – especially considering our own inability to negotiate in Russian.

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Luckily, Signal Festival’s team put in weeks of effort to ensure that the piece would make it over the boarder, and while we are still dealing with the last few wisps of Russian paperwork, here she is! – A little the worse for wear, but not too smashed up… Have you ever seen a better use for bubble wrap in your entire life?

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Thank you to the Garage staff for this little work of art on one of the bulb boxes.

The next few days for us will be a new adventure – once again featuring our beloved CLOUD. While the festival has managed to gather several hundred burnt out incandescent light bulbs, there aren’t enough for repairs as well as some aesthetic additions we’ve been planning for the sculpture. The first challenge perhaps is ordering some additional incandescent light bulbs. Banned in Prague in 2009, incandescent bulbs are expensive and hard to come by… if you know anybody in Prague, now’s the time to have them send their burnt out incandescent light bulbs HERE.

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Wayne leaning against a CLOUD in kids section of the Frankfurt Airport on the way to Prague

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