The Beltline Streetcar loop in Canada is known for connecting the inner city neighborhoods of Victoria Park and Connaught, and a new public art installation sets to replicate the curved path both in terms of shape and the Chinook wind phenomenon that characetrizes the area where coastal winds from the Pacific Northwest can melt a foot of snow in under a day. Chinook Arc,built by artist Joe O'Connell and Blessing Hancock Public Art, is an interactive, illuminated sculpture that hooks like the historical streetcar transit while also framing the sky like a glowing beacon.
The project, situated in Barb Scott Park, Calgary, is a 15-foot-tall steel and acrylic curvature that visitors can control the color of through an optical sensor embedded in the installation. The animated sculpture absorbs movement and colors in front of its sensors and reflects them on the arch itself, offering passers-by "complete control over the lighting." The description explains, "Visitors can wave their hands, move colored objects, or play a movie on their cell phones in order to create their own light sequence."
The project is a stunning way to connect a community—not unlike the original streetcar loop. And though the sculpture may look irradiated, it most likely won't melt a snow bank in blink like the weather situation from which it takes its name. If Chinook Arc really does turn cell phone videos into pulsing light sequences, we have to ask who will be the first to load up some Flappy Birds or Tetris and see what happens on this gorgeous piece of public art.
Images via Creative Machines
For more on the artist, see Joe O'Connell and Blessing Hancock Public Art