Ingenuity 4.0

On Saturday the sun was glorious and the clouds were Disney fantasy gorgeous; giant scoops of vanilla bean ice cream in the sky.  On the ground, the crowd was thinner than I remember from past festivals – but that may just be perception.  A lot was going on inside theaters and the Idea Center and in several creatively re-purposed alleys in Playhouse Square.  Some venues were so crowded I never did get close enough to see what the attractions were. 

Jared Bendis seemed to be doing a brisk and constant business with his “Hands Across” exhibit that linked thousands of festival-goers via electronic hand-holding across the internet. (I’m hand-holder #771). 

Pre-teens dominated the Metafield Maze – a room-sized electronic version of the old tilt-a-plane pinball maze prize you could get in Cracker-Jack boxes.  Walking and jumping on the projected (virtual) playing surface tilted it (virtually) and moved the (virtual) steel ball through the (virtual) maze while the player tries to avoid having the ball fall into one of the (virtual) holes.  Really.  It was fascinating to watch and the kids were lined up out the door to take a turn.

Piotr Szyhalski’s “Theater of Operations”  in the Allen Theater was sobering and chilling beyond the frigid air conditioning.  A sign on the door warned parents that the images might not be suitable for children. The Allen was dark, with multiple screen videos of the Iraq war barely visible through a small space below the massive curtain of the Allen stage.  You had to crouch down, uncomfortably, to see them, and even then only the bottom of the screens was visible. Soldiers’ voices were projected but sequestered under a bare-bulb-lit sound bell over just a few seats in the center of the theater.  The dark, cold and silent theater was an evocative setting for this work that reminded us of how little this war actually plays out in our daily lives and consciousness, and how we hear almost nothing of the voices of the soldiers on the ground.  

Now in its fourth year, Ingenuity is at a tipping point moment.  Will it successfully navigate the tilt-a-plane maze of financial, identity, and audience attraction challenges and make it to year five and beyond?