AHA Light Up Cleveland opens to the public

CLEVELAND -- AHA is a festival of lights that is meant to celebrate the recent downtown development in Cleveland.

The displays coincide with the Opening Ceremony of the Gay Games, held in Cleveland, Saturday.

The LAND studio project was on its way to the city, but the studio decided it would complement Gay Games 9 well, according to the managing director, Greg Peckham.

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Wednesday artists tested their displays ahead of their availability to the public on Thursday. The exhibits will lighten up the lives of participants Thursday night through Saturday. Most of the displays can be seen best after the sun goes down until about midnight.

LAND studio also reports public participation events will make the celebration even more dramatic.

The PechaKucha 20x20 event taking place Thursday at 8 p.m. "is a simple presentation format where individuals present 20 images, each for 20 seconds. The images will automatically advance, while the individual discuses and explains each image," according to the AHA website. The event will take place on Mall B --- in downtown Cleveland --- the heart of the displays.

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Three other signature displays will light up Mall B. Obscura Digital created a display on the side of Public Auditorium called "Transformations: A Metaphorical Evolution of Cleveland." The show comes from eight high powered movie theater style projectors. The lights are displayed on the outside of the edifice. The show will run every 15 minutes for viewers.

Andrew Plourde the senior technical director at Obscura Digital, reports the display integrates local architectural photography and iconography. The metamorphosis moves through the seasons paralleling the transformation that's happened in downtown Cleveland. The creative process took several months and incorporated a great amount of technological detail. "We map out the space, take precise measurements to figure out exactly the area that we're covering and then we create a virtual model of the building in software," Plourde tells Channel 3's Hilary Golston. "From that, we build out all of the media… all of the content… and then we re-map that onto the surface and project it."

An interactive light display called "the Super Pool" is currently comprised of 197 light discs that respond to each other and participants who manipulate them. Each pod is like a computer and the creators poses about 240 of them. Jen Lewin designed the large interactive sculpture for Mall B. However, a smaller version called "the pool" has been displayed elsewhere. "It's designed for up to 200 people to play collaboratively in the artwork," Lewin told Golston. "You can walk on it. You can just observe it. You can jump on it. You can dance on it. You can play on it. When you step on one of the single platforms, there are over 200 platforms, each platform will light up. They will hoola hoop and create a pattern of color." There are even special pucks that will create pools of color and ripple effects within the entire sculpture or portions of the piece. "The intent of the sculpture is to really create a dynamic and active public experience."

The signature piece to welcome the Gay Games is the Global Rainbow, designed by Yvette Mattern. "I've always wanted to do the rainbow for the Gay community and LAND studio commissioned me and I think they were clearly interested in the rainbow because of cooperation."

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The display, first unveiled in 2009, will shoot over the mall. The lights can be seen from miles away. Last night, Peckham said the lights could be seen from "the 480 bridge in Independence." "It just really depends on the atmospheric conditions, but we've clocked it ya know like 50 to 60 kilometers outside of the point of origin in England also in France," Mattern told Golston.

The inspiration came from an experience Mattern had. "I decided to focus in the area of light. I saw this crazy unbelievably beautiful rainbow over Walden Pond and it was very significant and I thought that's it I'm just gonna make a rainbow… and I'm gonna make a rainbow the same scale as a real rainbow, but how do I do it?" Mattern says it took her several years to create the design using 7 laser boxes and 7 laser lines and for three days it will cascade over Mall B in downtown Cleveland. The high specification, high wattage lasers create the effect of a real rainbow.

Hilary Golston will have a report on Channel 3 News tonight at 11 about how the community is enjoying the AHA festival.

Follow WKYC's Hilary Golston on Twitter: @HilaryWKYC


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