Overture, Curtain, Lights

Like a theatrical event, architectural intervention can animate an otherwise barren or static space with movement and light and fill it with hopes of novel interactions and strategic encounters.

At the 2002 edition of Calgary’s Art City Art and Design Festival, andrewkingstudio (Andrew King, Matthew Parks, Peter Atkinson, Erica Lowe) with artist Angela Silver and lighting designer Brian Pincott were chosen as one of four winning teams in the Festival’s international call for projects for the re-animation of Calgary’s Plus 15 public walkway system. Their work, scrim, involved the animation of a 60-foot long glass-clad bridge with the installation of a simple translucent fabric along one side and the composition and projection of four theatrical lighting instruments along the other.

Passersby below on one of Calgary’s busiest streets were engaged with an otherwise banal and ubiquitous element of their daily environment as they viewed figures moving between the light sources and shadows accelerating across the length of the bridge. Adjacent buildings were enhanced in their material qualities as light spilled onto their faades.

From the standpoint of those traversing the Plus 15, the structure allowed shadows to act as interactive lenses, turning them into portions of the screen which allowed the city to be observed more definitively. The designers wished to undermine a normative public place through the animation of a peripheral space, in order to achieve a critical position on the urban environment. The Alberta College of Art and Design has commissioned a second installation.

Andrew King is the recipient of the 2003 Prix de Rome. Angela Silver is an artist and photographer working in Calgary. This is her third collaboration with aka/andrewkingstudio. Submissions to the competition for the design of Art City’s exhibition pavilion are due July 30 (application deadline) with the submission deadline of Aug. 22. Art City, Calgary’s annual festival of visual arts, takes place Sept. 5-21. www.art-city.ca