emptyful is a large tracing of a container, over 10 meters high, made of stainless steel, lights, water, fog and snow. It is a meditation on the idea that Winnipeg (and the prairies which surround it) is full of emptiness — a boundless space where various phenomena such as weather, light, seasons and human endeavor come and go.

The vastness of space which elicits this reading has a way of isolating figures such as buildings, producing silhouettes against the sky in a very particular way that is unique to prairie landscapes and cityscapes. It also produces a mental space which allows for the free flow of creation and the imagination. This fullness of emptiness is portrayed by the container as an abstraction of that idea. It is clearly an iconic form which suggests containment, yet its openness actually contradicts this by letting light, wind, rain and snow just flow through. As these events are caught in its frame, the vessel temporarily fills, in whole or in part.

The container shape also suggests that the city is a constant experiment, a flow of flux, the product of conjecture, and subsequent trial and error. The shape of the container reads clearly from a distance and is pictorially accessible to all. Its form becomes dismantled the more obliquely it is viewed and its shape distorts when viewed from underneath. Due to the thinness of the site it is really just a 2-D drawing, coming in and out of “literality” depending on where one stands.

The large scale of the work is intended to present a robust dialogue with the buildings which surround it and give it presence within several fields of distance. From across the plaza to the east it appears like a small figure, however, up close, it elicits a feeling of awe.The giant container sits on a five degree slope towards the library to produce a feeling of imminence and motion within the work. However, the horizon line of its lights and water sources remains parallel to the ground, just the way a liquid remains parallel within a tilting container. The nozzles and fixtures which exist within this horizontal line produce a rain curtain and fog during the summer. These water elements and the container itself are lit at night with colours which cool and calm the summer heat — shifting greens, blues, aquas, whites, with the occasional burst of a hot colour to suggest fervent surprise. The winter lighting settings are softly pulsing fire colours — orange, yellows, soft whites, ambers and reds bring a warm contrast to the cold evenings and suggest that the embers of municipal nurture are percolating away.When the snow or rain is caught by these colours we imagine a sudden filling of the void with a giddy snow-globe effect, just once in a while when nature decides to collaborate with us. In this way, the project can also be seen as a kind of weather register or gauge of seasons, however it will also be able to register the cycles of collective culture. Its override function allows the reset for holidays and events.

emptyful is intended to give the city of Winnipeg something which is iconic and easily recognized. A photo-op and a moment of delight, it is intended to be literal and accessible on one hand, yet an incubator for interpretation on the other — an oscillation of scale, phenomena and consequent meaning.

Winnipeg, MB, Canada
Winnipeg Arts Council, City of Winnipeg
Studio Team
Bill Pechet, Gabe Daly
Project Team
PECHET Studio, Lightworks, SMS Engineering, Crosier Kilgour & Partners Ltd., HTFC Planning & Design
Parr Metal Fabricators Limited, OB1 Contracting Ltd., Ful-Flo Industries Ltd.
Gabe Daly, Gerry Kopelow, Bill Pechet