Ingenuity 2012: A Renaissance in Motion

By Hollie Gibbs

Prepare to once again create, participate, demonstrate and innovate as Ingenuity, the Cleveland Festival of Art & Technology, materializes in yet another location Fri 9/14 through Sun 9/16 at docks 32 and 30 north of Cleveland Browns Stadium and the Great Lakes Science Center on the lakefront.

Showcasing an area rarely open to the public, the festival offers a preview of the lakefront development the city announced earlier this year. Exhibits, performances, installations and lectures will occupy more than 120,000 square feet in two warehouses as well as outdoor lakefront space.

A renaissance in motion, Ingenuity has been dancing, resurrecting and progressing its way through Cleveland since 2005. Introducing its growing audience (from 30,000 in 2005 to 45,000 in 2011) to various areas of the city, the festival has made its temporary home at Public Square, Gateway/East 4th Street, Playhouse Square, Cleveland State University’s campus and the streetcar level of the Detroit-Superior Bridge in past years.

Part of Ingenuity’s intention is to change locations, thus energizing often-ignored areas and structures while inspiring creativity at the intersection of arts, science and technology. The festival blurs the lines between art and the city and steps through the boundaries separating artists and innovators from their audience.

Previous years found dance, music and art installations amid computer games and brain-wave technology all in uniquely urban locations, including a Tesla coil in the middle of Playhouse Square. Actors performed King Lear in a gutted department store, while divas performed opera in an alley. In 2010, Cleveland Institute of Art faculty created a temporary 130-foot tall waterfall on the street level of the Detroit-Superior Bridge that cascaded into the Cuyahoga River below.

“Transforming the viaduct with Squonk Opera was great last year,” said James Krouse, director of programming at Ingenuity Fest Cleveland. “It was a great space and one that many Clevelanders don’t see all that often, so it was great to see it transformed so dramatically. I think that our shift in locations has really been important to how we’ve evolved. We’re on the lakefront [this year], and that’s exciting for Ingenuity and Cleveland.”

Attracting an audience as diverse as its collaborators, a 2009 Team NEO report found that the Festival had a $4.5 million dollar economic impact in the region. Involving an ever-changing spectrum of local organizations, artists, musicians, techies, this year’s Ingenuity has literally invited you as well. This year’s festival was preceded by a contest, asking all participants to submit a minute-long YouTube video showcasing an Ingenuity Fest related talent. The event will feature the top 50 submissions.

Additionally, at the 2012 fest you can witness robot artists; create personal artifacts using computer hardware and software for cutting, shaping, and 3D printing; make lights blink, alarms sound, and sequence MIDI notes; or participate in crafts.

Learn about local foods, the Wright brothers and flight evolution, space shuttle missions and programs, and chemical and physical properties while enjoying a fresh bowl of liquid nitrogen strawberry ice cream and tapping your foot to the tune of Apollo 11 transcripts.

Alter a post-industrial field of flowers with your texts; use the controllerless Kinect gaming system to influence projected images; create your own soundscape; visit the library of the future; marvel at the artistic wonder held within obsolete technology; create your own copy art with roving printmakers throughout the festival; or play independently made video games.

Live bodies will meld with film as a 34-foot long monster truck retrofitted with truck-horn calliope, a wall of rotors and a spinning grand piano will triumphantly play its way down the street. Puppetry, theater, and technology will playfully interact. Cow tongues with robotic devices will mount choreographed dancers as your breath and movement synch to live music.

Attendees are invited to visit galleries filled with photo-collage backlit images of a retro-futuristic landscape or a collection of sculptures created by Italian American sculptor Giancarlo Calicchia. You’re welcome to journey through a haunting panorama of ice, water, and sky with a multi-channel video installation film or experience the spiritual phenomenon of The Drowning.

The grounds will be filled with eclectic sounds of a wide range of live bands including pop, bluegrass, indie, electronic, hard rock, jazz, rock, Americana, psychedelic, experimental, dance, industrial, hip-hop, soul, synth-pop, folk, ambient, alternative, and Baroque.

On hand, find the Azimuth Cave, a single seat, user controlled, light-proof, sound-proof, 5.1 surround sound hendecagonal prism designed for interactive experiences. The only signals of navigation in the complete darkness are the sounds around you.

“Jared Bendis’s Asizumuth Cave was kind of the sleeper success last year; it is back this year as well,” Krouse said. “This year we’ve added a Make Space. The Make movement is a world that’s emerged since the festival was founded. The Make Space is really important as a feature of this year’s fest and also as a direction we want to explore more. We’re also turning into a year-round organization, so that we can be part of the cultural conversation of Cleveland for more than three days out of the year.”

Join the ingenious revival Fri 9/14 through Sun 9/16 at Cleveland’s lakefront docks 32 and 30. For more information, go to Fest hours are Fri 9/14 @ 5pm – 1am; Sat 9/15 @ noon – 1am; Sun 9/16 @ noon – 6pm.


Hollie Gibbs has a BS in journalism from Kent State University and studied photography at School of the Visual Arts in Manhattan. Her articles and photographs have appeared in numerous local and national publications. She can also be found playing guitar with various bands and building life-size monster props.


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