Making WAVEs: Artists featured at Breckenridge festival discuss their work
WHERE TO FIND THEM
Tension by Scott Young — Gallery@OMH, Old Masonic Hall, 136 S. Main St.
Intermittent Positive Reinforcement by Scott Young — Arts District Lawn, 117 Washington Ave.
CLOUD by Caitlind r.c. Brown — Arts District Campus, 117 Washington Ave.
Light Flows by ACTLD — Riverwalk Center Lawn, 150 W. Adams Ave.
BRECKENRIDGE — Breckenridge’s annual WAVE: Light + Water + Sound has officially begun, and with it, Colorado and international works of art have made their home in town for the weekend. Each afternoon through Sunday, the public is invited to see and play with various illuminated installations that bring awareness to those three natural elements.
Put a smile on
Breckenridge Creative Arts’ latest artist-in-residence is Scott Young, the only semi-local artist to be featured this year. Denver-based Young has been working with neon since he was 18. He started as a sign-maker, has worked in Hollywood on movies such as “Batman Forever” and is most recently known for Wish You Were Her(e) atop Denver’s Museum of Contemporary Art and Love Bully at B-Spot Gallery. Now, people can see either Tension or Intermittent Positive Reinforcement at WAVE.
“I use neon because it’s the most human form to me,” said Young, who frequently focuses on human relationships. “Once illuminated, it burns at the temperature of our bodies. So if you touch it, it feels like it’s alive. … I use a lot of other colors as well but I love this color red because you actually see the electricity going through the tube. And, it is most certainly fragile, as humans are.”
Though it has been shown in smaller forms, this is currently the largest version of Tension and is composed of roughly 60-70 pieces of neon. Not only is the scope a departure from previous work, but Young is also trying to create more abstract, gestural pieces rather than words mounted on canvas or acrylic.
Like ropes, Tension hangs from pulleys meant to mimic the mining equipment of Summit County. There is also a sound component inspired by the Schumann resonances where a low frequency sound akin to monks chanting will be piped in through speakers. Combined with the bright light heightened by blackout curtains, Young said guests likely won’t want to stay in the room long.
Tension will remain installed at the gallery longer than this weekend, but folks are encouraged to see it now while enjoying the rest of WAVE.
Young’s other festival work, Intermittent Positive Reinforcement, has also been previewed before in a previous iteration. This temporary piece is more interactive and experimental than Tension. A commentary on social media and narcissism, anyone who likes the Instagram account @willyoulikeme will see the neon face change from sad to happy.
Young will host an artist talk on Friday at 6 p.m. at Gallery@OMH and a workshop on Saturday at the Robert Whyte House, 127 S. Ridge St., at 5 p.m.
Head in the clouds
Caitlind r.c. Brown and Wayne Garrett have been collaborators and partners since about 2011. The Calgary, Canada, couple find that Brown’s traditional background in fine arts and Garrett’s history as a machinist mesh well. “The real strength is the complementary skill sets and perspectives and approaches to things,” said Garrett.
Together, they create permanent and temporary public art installations that include Carbon Copy’s 1988 Plymouth Caravelle standing on its nose, a tree covered in reflective nails for Afterglow/Aftergrowth and The Deep Dark’s night-blinding LED door frame in the wilderness. “Something that is interesting to us about public space is the uncertainty of it,” Brown said. “You can’t possibly predict the way someone will look at your work, but also there’s all these variables that are quite difficult to measure as an artist. … I feel like there’s something really humbling about making work in a public space.”
However, they’re arguably most known for CLOUD, a mass of roughly 6,000 incandescent light bulbs commissioned for Nuit Blanche Calgary in 2012. Depending on the site, the bulbs are either propped by a center pole or suspended from a ceiling, with an array of strings beckoning people to pull on and control the light.
“We wanted to make a sculpture where the audience became the performers,” Brown said. “What we like about CLOUD is that we always think of the work as being incomplete until people are interacting with it.” While CLOUD certainly has a message about transitioning technologies and waste, the pair believes the theme of teamwork is just as, if not more, important.
“If 20 people are acting independently and pulling switches, it just kind of flickers,” Garrett said. “But sometimes you’ll get people who initiate a group activity and work together as a team to turn the whole thing off or on. It speaks to that power of collaboration and organization.”
Making its first appearance in Colorado, the popular piece has toured around North America and the duo created a second version that’s currently making rounds in Europe. CLOUD is literally molded by its travels, like how clouds take in water vapor from below, as visitors are encouraged to donate burnt-out light bulbs to repair its diffusion “skin.”
“More than anything,” said Brown, “CLOUD responds to each place that it goes to like a barometer of how people locally think of interaction, art, light or even clouds. … Weather isn’t responsive to walls or these arbitrary borders we’ve built between places.”
Brown, Garrett and BCA president and CEO Robb Woulfe have been discussing bringing CLOUD to WAVE for years, since the work naturally fits the mission of the festival.
“We’ve always been enchanted by the ephemeral quality of light,” Garrett said. “As an art medium it has the power to be larger than its source, occupying more space than the actual sculpture. … That immaterial nature is pretty enticing and powerful.”
In a new light
A team of 18 full-time people, ACTLD has been providing lighting and visual services for 25 years to Belgium and beyond. Their diverse portfolio ranges from the opening ceremonies for the Special and Youth Olympics to a video mapped on the Strasbourg Cathedral to a show for the Puy du Fou theme park in France.
Senior designer Julie Boniche — who has a background as a theater and opera set and lighting designer — has been with ACTLD for six years, working with their video netting projection technology that comprises their WAVE installation, Light Flows. As the creative director for the work, she said the main point of Light Flows is to have people appreciate light and rediscover it. It will highlight images of the northern lights and other light-based natural phenomena that can only be seen in the dark, away from cities.
“The northern lights are something so special that you don’t see,” Boniche said. “You have to go so far on Earth to be able to see it so we like to be able to bring it to people. … The flow of the river will spread the light around and at the same time we will project down into the river. There will be a kind of a relationship created between the both of them.”
Like with CLOUD, the art is never truly the same as it travels from place to place and blends into its environment. In fact, a new net is fabricated each time. For its fourth installation — its first in America — the net is 10 meters high, 25 meters wide and 8 meters long. For comparison, their La Flèche Dans Les Nuages installation by the Strasbourg Cathedral was 20 meters high, 30 meters long and 15 meters wide.
These pieces are just a few of the installations viewable this weekend. Unfortunately, Cedric Le Borgne’s sculptures will not make an appearance as planned. To learn more about the other works and events happening, check out the Summit Daily’s past article previewing the event or visit BreckCreate.org/Wave.
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