If you see a flying saucer near the Detroit-Superior Bridge this weekend, don’t be alarmed. That’s just part of the Squonk Opera, the hallmark piece of Ingenuity Fest 2011.
“The Squonk is sort of a modern opera which will be performed outdoors,” says director of programming James Krouse. “There’s going to be a UFO that looks like it’s crashed into the side of the viaduct.”
Ingenuity, founded in 2004, has hopped around the city from East Fourth Street to PlayhouseSquare. Last year, it found its newest home, the lower level of the Detroit-Superior Bridge.
“When you say the word ‘festival’ to people, a lot of times they think of a street fair: some tents, food and booze,” says Krouse. “But at Ingenuity Fest I think our ambition is much more along the lines of something like SXSW in Austin, Texas." Krouse hopes Ingenuity, like SXSW, will become a cultural exposition well-known outside its home city.
Kicking off tomorrow evening and wrapping up Sunday night, Ingenuity Fest celebrates art and technology with interactive exhibitions, performances and demonstrations. Onlookers can react and respond to different pieces via text and navigate through a maze using only their ears.
“Art and science are not two separate things,” says Krouse. “They’re this one continuum. We show that in a couple of different ways.”
Some of the performances literally tie art and science together. Krouse recommends Erica Mott's "The Victory Project," a dance of sorts. “She integrates technology into her movements. She’s actually tethered to a sound operator, so her motions actually produce sound.”
With more than 20 hours of programming, including more than 110 scheduled musical acts, where does one begin?
“There’s a lot to take in.” Krouse says, laughing. “I would pick out one or two things that really grab your attention, particularly if it’s a performance. Pick out those few things you want to do, but also give yourself the time to wander a bit. That’s part of the pleasure of being here.”