ARTIFICIAL SUN

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While CLOUD has our hearts, our minds have momentarily been consumed by the Sun. We are presently in the process of creating a new interactive light-sculpture called SOLAR FLARE.

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SOLAR FLARE is a sun sculpture designed to artificially prolong “golden hour” into the longest and coldest nights of the year. Conceived specifically for Stephen Avenue Walk in Calgary (Canada), the piece is activated by viewers as they pass beneath. A temporary interjection into the early darkness of the Canadian winter, SOLAR FLARE explores the social elements of light – particularly warm light – and its power to draw people together to bask in its glow.

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The piece utilizes acrylic tubes as home-made fiber optics, drawing light from the aluminum core of the sun into the outer periphery of the piece. SOLAR FLARE’s internal structures were designed by local draftsman and architect Ivan Ostapenko, and engineered by Justin Williams to withstand the low-temperatures, sweeping winds, and heavy snow-fall of Calgary’s northern climate – no mean fete.

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We’ve had the great pleasure of working in a Cochrane-based metal shop called Coyote Works Ltd. Operated by a couple of arts enthusiasts (and artists in their own right), Coyote Works specializes in design, art, and special effects for the silver screen. Set into the rolling foothills along the Rocky Mountains, the shop is charming, wood-heated, and even comes with a shop cat. We felt incredibly lucky to be working in this space – our thanks to Dave and Jodie for being so accommodating!

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We’re still working through various challenges with SOLAR FLARE. Initially the piece was intended to be lit by several thousand LEDs, interactively controlled by a programmable arduino unit. After encountering some issues with brightness, and simultaneously frying our arduino, we decided to switch to a more analog technology – back into known territory, where we belong (for the time being).

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Our analog solution is one warm, ultra-bright, high pressure sodium light bulb. In our search for golden hour, this bulb is perhaps the best match we’ve found. Simplicity is key when working with light – we can not hope to attain half the grace and agility of brilliant LED artist Leo Villareal.

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Even while we face the fire of poor weather delaying installation and interactive technologies blowing up in plumes of smoke, SOLAR FLARE still represents a mythical magic to us. It is perhaps a right of passage for emerging light artists to create a piece attempting to catch and re-create an artificial semblance of the brightest and most essential celestial body known to earth: The Sun. Whether this pursuit is a utopian fantasy, a god complex, or an attempt to suspend time itself, SOLAR FLARE pays homage to an established genre of sun-themed works by quintessential light artists while inviting sunlight back into the darkness of Canadian winter nights.

Stay tuned to www.solarsunflare.wordpress.com for updates on SOLAR FLARE.

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