Monday, September 17, 2012

Ingenuity experiments with location and innovation

Ingenuity, Cleveland's annual art and technology festival, is always searching for a perfect marriage of location and creativity. This year, after moving from the Detroit-Superior Bridge to the Port Authority's warehouses 30 and 32, it found the right pairings in some places more than others.

The bridge-to-port move traded architectural grandeur and ruin for industrial grit.  The wide-open spaces in Warehouse 32 allowed the fest to include a lot of big installations, such as a venue-bending conversion of a classic silver bus into a movie theater showing a looping program of shorts. Some of the films were a bit quiet or esoteric for a restless festival-browsing audience.  Two friends told me they'd seen great short films in the bus. But in two visits, I saw few images that would stick with me, and I noticed that viewers stayed, on average, just a couple of minutes.

With Warehouse 30 taken up by a sort of flea market and a music stage with a deafening sound system, Warehouse 32 attracted most of the installations and crowds.  It hosted at least two great successes.

"Blue Desert," a film shown on three video screens, took viewers on a trip to Antarctica, penguins and all.  The film, by two Oberlin College cinema studies professors, showed ice cracking and parting in front of the camera's eye and the thousand-shades-of-white cliffs of the continent's coast. The film, shot with very high-def cameras, fascinated with its detail while still capturing mystery.  I couldn't tell which black masses in the distance behind the flocking penguins were rock outcroppings and which were another solid flock of birds.

TAKES - 2minute trailer from Nichole Canuso on Vimeo.

In the multi-media performance "Takes," by the Nichole Canuso Dance Company, a man and a woman performed an intimate and evocative series of dances inside a tent-sized translucent projection box. Cameras caught their movements and projectors cast grainy black and white images of them onto the box's screens. At one moment, the man held up an empty picture frame, and though the woman was standing on the other side of the performance space, her image was projected into the image of the frame, as if he were seeing her in his mirror.

Nearby, a peculiar hodgepodge of obsolete technology and note-card-filled easels celebrated the nerdy gaming culture of the '80s.  The "Action Fiction Adventure," patterned after text-only computer adventure games and Choose Your Own Adventure young-adult books, invited the viewer to play the role of a solitary traveler. The protagonist attempts to escape a bizarre labyrinth filled with hazards, many of which lead suddenly to the "You Died" ending shown above.  Though the collage appearance made the game seem confusing at first, visitors who engaged with it soon turned obsessive, hunting with flashlights for their story's next scene.

Across the warehouse, kids decorated several temporary displays, including a cardboard West Side Market, with donated art supplies.

Outside, people walked along the lake, behind the two warehouses.  Chairs at the water's edge gave strollers a chance to stop and contemplate the harbor's lighthouses and the Goodtime III passing by.


amyO said...

Great review Erick! Ingenuity Fest was a blast! My company Faber-Castell had the honor of being a part of it as we were the ones that constructed the cardboard West Side Market using our Faber-Castell and Creativity for Kids products. Cleveland, OH is home to the company's United States headquarters and distibution center. We were delighted to be a part of the fest this year! Check us out at

Frances A. Jones said...

Journeys and trips are always interesting.
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