Client: City of Calgary
Location: Calgary, AB, Canada
Completion date: 2014
Artwork budget: $500,000
Chinook Arc is an interactive, illuminated sculpture located at the edge of the Barb Scott Park in Calgary, AB. It is 28' in diameter and soars 15' in the air. During the day the sun subtly illuminates the acrylic skin, giving the sculpture an ethereal, semi-translucent appearance. At night, the sculpture emits a soft, internal glow. The sculpture's lighting is interactive and can be controlled in real time through a custom-designed sensor, which allows the public to change light sequences by waving their hands or playing a video on their cellphone and holding the screen up to the sensor.
The form draws inspiration from the historic Beltline Streetcar loop that once encircled the neighborhood as well as the Chinook arch phenomenon that periodically blankets the sky. These two identifying boundaries inspired the crisp edges and rounded curves seen in the work. The entire sculpture resembles an air mass or floating cloud. The enclosed space within the sculpture frames the sky and is an immersive color environment in the evening. The continual play between the interior and exterior presents opportunities for exploration and new visual discovery engaging visitors in physical and social interactivity that reflects the historic use of the site as a playground.
Chinook Arc was a collaboration between Joe O'Connell, Creative Machines, and Blessing Hancock.
When using the sensor as a gesture controller, people can have the singular experience of waving their hands and feeling like they are controlling a mass of clouds. When holding their cellphone up to the sensor, the public can turn the entire sculpture into a low-resolution screen that reproduces the colors and motion from the cellphone.