Historically Rocky Ridge / Royal Oak and Tuscany were separated by the divide of the Crowchild Trail. Now, a new LRT station allows commuters, pedestrians, and cyclists to easily access each other, as well as connecting its citizenry to the magnificent recreational landscapes of Calgary’s northwest sector. Walking, biking, bussing, driving, C-training: the Tuscany LRT interchange will be vibrant with people in motion, traveling in different directions, and at different velocities. We propose to extend the pleasure and discovery of the station precinct by creating an artwork that changes shape depending on the individual’s position and speed. Two installations, sited on each side of the Trail, roger that is meant to foster a cross-highway dialogue; as though neighbors were chatting over a fence. Composed of 450 amber-colored safety lights mounted on 12 m-high galvanized poles, the artwork explores the way movement, position, distance and time all influence our perception of things.
Approaching the station, the poles and lights will appear as a random grove of trees or electrical poles, festooned with buds, or could they be birds…or are they electrical insulators? Then, when standing within this cluster, and viewing the companion piece across Crowchild, these disparate elements will no longer seem as random; they will gather themselves into a specific and beautiful shape: a round and radiant constellation, yellow during the day, and glowing amber at night.
And if you cross the bridge and look back at where you were standing….will the same phenomenon occur? There’s only one way to find out….try it out, or call your neighbour across the way.
In addition to capitalizing on the movement of people, we were also inspired to create our points of light by the expansive night sky of Calgary. Looking up at that vast celestial arc, the scattered points of stars seem random and immeasurable. But those distant stars, we know, are subject to the same physical principles and regulations that govern our earth and everything on it. They govern our bodies just as surely as they govern the atounding geometric spirals of the Milky Way.
It is human nature to simultaneously marvel at the unknown and then to try to measure its shape, order and magnitude, in order to try to ‘understand’.
We were inspired by the research of the English physicist / philosopher Roger Penrose. Penrose creating patterns which have inspired artists (Escher) and scientists to explore the phenomena of space/time conditions, quantum physics and the nature of consciousness. We have a adopted his brilliant tile geometry to establish the positioning of our points of light, as they create both discernable patterns and random ones, much like the stars above us, and our own movements below.
The working title of the piece is roger that…an homage to Roger Penrose but also because it means ‘transmission received’ or ‘I understand’. It is so important for public art to have ‘AHA’ moments, where a feeling of belonging or understanding is manifest. Coming upon this ensemble, someone might ask. ‘what is happening here’ ? And then, out of the apparent disorder, with a slight shift of position, swift or slow, the perfect shape emerges, and then melts again into something amorphous and ephemeral. roger that is a meditation on the idea that our movement, position, and distance influences the perception of all things, and that we have a choice to see all conditions in the universe as both chaotic and as ordered.
Sustainability and the 21C City
The proposed artwork is a playful re-arrangement of readymade roadside elements, familiar and almost banal, repurposed in a surprising manner. We suggest this palette of safety lights and galvanized poles not only for its tough resilience, but also because it refers to the everyday bits and pieces, which make up the infrastructure of the 21st century city. Two constellations, roger that will be visible from most positions in the station precinct. The lights are solar-powered and run by super-capacitors, which harness the sun’s energy to re-radiate back to earth. This is both a practical and symbolic link back to the larger orders of our universe, where the energy gathered by the sun is held within each of the lights, translating its critical life force back into our small piece of earth.
We think that the encounter of these amber lights on a cold commuter’s evening will become a warming beacon of sorts. It is a foundational principle in sustainable thinking that the natural forces of our world should be harnessed to lessen our impact on the earth’s resources, so what a fitting symbol this project may be.
City of Calgary
Bill Pechet, Gabe Daly, Sara Zonouzi
RJC Consulting Engineers, Aurian Surveying, Tetratech Geotechincal
Valmont/WestCoast Engineering, Highline Electrical Constructors, SolarMarkers
Gabe Daly, Sara Zonouzi, Bill Pechet