Monument to Fallen Stars, Caitlind r.c. Brown & Wayne Garrett, 2017. Decommissioned City of Calgary streetlights, electrical components, arduino, wooden platform, telescopes. 80 ft diameter. GLOW Downtown Festival of Winter Lights, Calgary, Canada.
Monument to Fallen Stars is a tribute to fading celestial bodies and outmoded civic lighting. A large-scale outdoor installation, the piece transforms 78 retired City of Calgary streetlights into a dynamic tapestry of grounded constellations. Viewers enter the field of sodium streetlights strewn across an empty parking lot, exploring the space as lights buzz slowly on and off around them. At first, the formation of lights appears haphazard – like a gravesite for fallen infrastructure. In the centre of the site, a small wooden platform holds three telescopes. Trained at a high-up mirror on the wall of a nearby building, when viewers look up through the telescope, they see their surroundings reflected back on a macro scale. This “bird’s eye” awareness reveals the formations of streetlights around them, not as random, but as the calculated placement of familiar constellations – Ursa Major, Ursa Minor, Orion, Andromeda, and so forth – many of which are no longer fully visible in the night sky above downtown Calgary. Drawing connections between above + below, visible + invisible, wilderness + metropolis, curiosity + conquest, Monument to Fallen Stars offers an intuitive moment of pause, asking viewers to stand back and consider our human relationship with the universe.
Thank you to the kind people at the City of Calgary’s Roads Department for donating streetlights to this installation.
In the Belly of a Bear, Lane Shordee, Caitlind r.c. Brown & Wayne Garrett, 2016, scorched wood, real and faux fur. 15 ft diameter. The Beach, Winter Stations (Toronto, Canada).
In the Belly of a Bear is a 15-ft diameter wooden sculpture designed by Lane Shordee, Caitlind r.c. Brown & Wayne Garrett. Set into the sand along the beach of Lake Ontario for the duration of Winter Stations (Feb 15 – March 18, 2015), the design was one winner of an international Design Competition challenging architects, designers, and artists from around the world to re-imagine the Lifeguard towers on the beach of Toronto.
Imposing a dark, charred aesthetic into the bright, frozen landscape, viewers are invited to climb up a wooden ladder into the belly of the structure, emerging into a domed sitting space lined in thick warm fur. With a round window pointing towards the sky above the cold lake, In the Belly of a Bear speaks to the theme of the design competition (freeze & thaw) as seen through a series of juxtapositions – scorched & frozen, interior & exterior, isolation & insulation – intending ultimately to build a social interspace between the two. Within this cozy, warm space, viewers thaw slowly, and perhaps stay a while to gaze out the window into the cold winter sky.
Night Blind, Caitlind r.c. Brown & Wayne Garrett, 2015, wood, LEDs, electronics, speakers. Independent intervention along the banks of the Yukon River in Dawson City, Canada.
Developed as part of a Residency Program at Klondike Institute of Arts and Culture in Dawson City, a remote town in Northern Canada substantially affected by long nights in wintertime (20+ hours), Night Blind is based on a series of interviews with residents about their emotional, physical, and psychological responses to prolonged darkness. Utilizing the bones of a quintessential a-frame house to illustrate a simplified version of the “sky glow” phenomenon, Night Blind asks viewers to stand inside the house and look up at the sky. From outside the house, stars are clearly visible. When inside the a-frame, the sky appears much darker, blanker, and deeper – without a star in sight. Speaking to the manufactured divide between humans and our nighttime environments, the works asks: do our shelters serve as shells, segregating us from the surrounding world? Are we polarizing our understandings of the places in which we live, blinding ourselves to the natural spaces around us? Speaking to isolation and insulation, exterior and interior, environmental and manufactured, Night Blind does not condemn the light nor the darkness, but highlights the affects of one extreme on the other.
As Above, So Below by Caitlind r.c. Brown & Wayne Garrett, 2015, acrylic, two-way mirror film, LEDs, sensors, electronics. Multistory installation commissioned for the Barron Building by Beakerhead (Calgary, Canada).
As Above, So Below is a multistory light installation inside Calgary’s first skyscraper – the historic Barron Building. Physical beams of light pass between floors, connecting two parallel realities: on the lower floor, a clean, empty space where illuminated columns hang like sentinels. On the upper floor, a ruined landscape of renovation debris. Arranged as if cutting directly from one floor to the next, the beams act as metaphorical time machines, transporting light through decades of change inside the Barron Building. As audiences move through these spaces, the beams illuminate (or don’t illuminate) in response to their presence, highlighting the transition from sordid past into unknown future.
The Deep Dark, Caitlind r.c. Brown & Wayne Garrett, 2015, wood, LEDs, electronics, speakers. Independent intervention in the forest surrounding The Banff Centre (Banff, Canada) and along the Yukon River (Dawson City, Canada)
The Deep Dark is the first in a series of site-specific light installations intended to illuminate the interspaces between our sacred (and natural) environments and cultural constructs of darkness. Drawing from interviews with participants from various Banff Centre residencies, faculty, and staff, the project asks: why do we fear the dark? Is darkness a presence or an absence? What separates real fear from imaginary fear? Subsequently, each viewer is invited to participate in a 600 ft solo night hike through the forest surrounding The Banff Centre, alone in communion with the woods, voices in the foliage, and their own thoughts. Utilizing domestic imagery (doorways) as a literal entry point, the installation imposes artificial light into the wild darkness – light by which the darkness grows darker and disillusions the night.
sea/see/saw, Caitlind r.c. Brown & Wayne Garrett, 2015, steel, cable, 14,000 used eyeglass lenses. 30’ diameter. Commissioned by Pera Museum (Istanbul, Turkey)
Currently installed on the historic façade of Pera Museum in Istanbul (until January 2016), sea/see/saw was designed to mirror the dynamic and shimmering surface of the Golden Horn (Bosphorus) below. Introducing chaotic movement to the otherwise static structure, sea/see/saw creates pixilated ripples across the face of the building, as drawn by the wind. Built from incremental, readily available elements (glasses) that merge to create a simple, geometric form (a circle), the sculpture invites the viewer to engage in a momentary shift of perspective. If eyes are “windows to the soul,” how do lenses revise our vision of the world around us? What presences are evoked by thousands of human objects, especially materials so tied to essential mechanisms of sight? Do our former accessories carry faint ghosts of those who used them? As the materiality of the installation becomes apparent, the watchers become the watched, and this spectacle of spectacles takes on another subtext – as an icon for collective vision, compound perspectives, and the power of collaborative sight.
SOLAR FLARE, Caitlind r.c. Brown & Wayne Garrett, 2013-14, aluminum, electronics, motion sensors, acrylic, metal halide light bulb. 12‘ diameter. Commissioned by Downtown Calgary.
SOLAR FLARE is an interactive sun sculpture designed to artificially prolong “golden hour” into the longest and coldest nights of the year. Conceived specifically for Stephen Avenue pedestrian walkway in Calgary, the piece is animated via motion sensors 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 together diverse communities to bask in its glow. SOLAR FLARE pays homage to an established genre of sun-themed works by quintessential light artists, attempting to catch and re-create an artificial semblance of the brightest and most essential celestial body known to earth. Whether this pursuit is a utopian fantasy, a god complex, or an attempt to suspend time itself, SOLAR FLARE invites audiences to reconsider a familiar space and engage with their city in a different light – after darkness falls.
NEW MOON, Caitlind r.c. Brown & Wayne Garrett, 2014, steel, electronics, 5,000 light bulbs. 8’ diameter, support 16’ x 25’ (height). Commissioned by Lexington Art League (Lexington, Kentucky, USA).
NEW MOON is an interactive light + shadow sculpture inviting viewers to manipulate the phases of the moon. Exploring the whimsical and alluring nature of our nearest celestial body, the sculpture draws on the universal familiarity of moonlight to all people. A mysterious, seductive, and powerful entity, the moon draws the tides and eclipses the sun. And yet, perhaps by virtue of its relationship with night and darkness, the moon is an intimate celestial body – she casts her silver light as if for each dreamer individually. With NEW MOON, the artists build a playful allegory for the human fascination with exploration, adventure, and new frontiers, while also gently implicating the darker side of progress: humanities mortal terror of the infinite and unattainable expanses of outer space. By manually shifting the faces of the moon, viewers become temporary time travelers, altering time and space to meet, if only briefly, together in the moonlight.
BELLWETHER, Caitlind r.c. Brown & Wayne Garrett, 2014, 700 recycled glass bottles, LEDs, shock sensors, pull chain. Dimensions variable. Commissioned by Lexington Art League (Lexington, Kentucky, USA).
Built from 700 hand-cut glass bottles, LEDs, vibration sensors, and electronics, BELLWETHER marries new and analog technologies, transforming simple motion into sound and light. Viewers are invited to explore BELLWETHER, stepping into the darkness beneath overhanging bells, ringing them as they move and activating the bells, causing them to flicker like fireflies. As the viewer walks through the field of bells, they leave a luminous trail of tinkling light behind them. Interactive by its very nature, a bell cannot ring without a catalyst, whether that force is a living being, the wind, or some other external activator. In this sense, a ringing bell is evidence of a nearby presence, tracing ghosts of movement through vibration and sound. A “bellwether” is an omen, a predictor of the future. While whimsical and alluring, BELLWETHER’s use of familiar materials gently indicates the complex relationship between humans and consumable goods – the ghosts of our presence in this world – and asks audiences to re-imagine common place discarded items and their potential to create experiences in the place of waste.
WRECK CITY sign, Caitlind r.c. Brown & Wayne Garrett, 2013, re-appropriated construction debris. Signage for WRECK CITY (www.wreckcity.ca).
Tube Slide, Caitlind r.c. Brown & Wayne Garrett, 2013, re-appropriated Burger King slide, pre-demolition house. Exhibited at WRECK CITY (www.wreckcity.ca).
WRECK CITY: An Epilogue for 809 was a community-based art experiment in Calgary transforming 9 houses, 3 garages, and a greenhouse scheduled for demolition into temporary art, installation, and performance spaces. The biggest project of its type in the history of Alberta (if not all of Canada), WRECK CITY invited over 150 artists to participate by building new, temporary work, ultimately destined to be destroyed alongside the buildings. Caitlind Brown was a co-founder and co-curator behind WRECK CITY.
The WRECK CITY sign was a public marker for the project, constructed from re-appropriated debris sourced from all 9 properties. Tube Slide was installed between floors of one of the houses and served as a literal access point for viewers of all ages. Constructed from a re-appropriated Burger King playground slide, the structure emerged through the external wall of the house, becoming a communicative icon implicating that everything inside the home was not as it seemed.
Slide, Caitlind r.c. Brown & Wayne Garrett, 2011, re-appropriated playground slide, pre-demolition house. Exhibited at The House Project (www.housedemolitionproject.wordpress.com)
Simultaneous with larger-budget, more public projects, Brown & Garrett are heavily involved with community-based, self-organized exhibitions in Calgary. Slide was installed in a domestic, pre-demolition house as part of a DIY group exhibition of 8 local artists (The House Project). Bisecting floors in a playful manner, the slide was set into the living room floor, cut through the basement bathroom, and popped the rider out in a mattress-lined closet.
For Love of the Land, Caitlind r.c. Brown (Director, writer, editor) and Wayne Garrett (score, technical support), 2012, 16 mm celluloid, 10:09. Independent project.
An experimental film drawing from mythologies of the western genre, For Love of the Land is a segmented story about a Heroine, a Cowboy, and a Villain, caught in love and conflict on the sprawling landscapes of southern Alberta. Devised as a symbolic exploration of love, the conquest for land, and western film motifs, For Love of the Land was shot on 16mm film with non-actors in summer 2011.