CANAL CONVERGENCE 2021
Returns to Scottsdale Waterfront in November
Text + Images Courtesy of Scottsdale Arts

Fire shows will return to the Scottsdale Waterfront from November 5
through 14, 2021, as Walter Productions brings another entertaining
art installation to Canal Convergence | Water + Art + Light.

Above: “Floatus” by Walter Productions presents a fire show during Canal Convergence 2018 at the Scottsdale Waterfront. Photo by Reg Madison Photography.

“Scottsdale Public Art is excited to see Canal Convergence returning to its format of art, music, programming and fire at the Waterfront,” said Kim Boganey, director of Scottsdale Public Art. “We are grateful for how we were able to pivot last year and provide a safe, passive way to experience Canal Convergence, but we also missed how the event brings the local community together in the name of public art.”

 Canal Convergence is a free, annual, 10-day temporary public art event, featuring light-based and interactive art installations from around the world, exciting performances, creative workshops, educational opportunities, and food and drink. The event is produced by Scottsdale Public Art in association with other branches of Scottsdale Arts.

Walter Productions, which is known for its large-scale Burning Man artworks, has studios in Phoenix and Scottsdale. The artist studio first brought the choreographed fire shows — and massive crowds — to Canal Convergence in November 2018 with the artwork “Floatus.” Walter returned the following year with “Water Serpent,” which also featured daily fire shows and drew even more visitors to the Waterfront.

Above, top left: “The Planets,” by PITAYA. Top right: “Entwined Meadow” by Charles Gadeken. Bottom left: “Mini Nova,” by artist Abram Santa Cruz and Liquid PXL. Bottom right: “illumaphonium: Halo,” by the artist duo illumaphonium of Churchstanton.

Due to concerns about crowding that would be incompatible with social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic, Walter’s artwork for the 2020 Canal Convergence, “Information Flow,” did not include fire shows. But for 2021, the popular fire shows will return with “Floom” — an artwork stylistically similar to “Floatus” and “Water Serpent” but with some new twists.

“I speak for all of us at Walter Productions when I say how grateful we are to be invited back to Canal Convergence this year,” said Kirk Strawn, founder of Walter Productions. “We will have some new surprises, and of course we’ll be bringing back the fire!”

 Canal Convergence 2021 will focus on a theme of “Art and Technology” in connection with CODAsummit: The Intersection of Art, Technology and Place, which is coming to Scottsdale Nov. 10–12. Through this year’s theme, Scottsdale Public Art intends to expand the understanding of the role technology plays in making public art.

 In addition to “Floom,” the 2021 event will feature two previously announced artworks. “Say What You Will,” by the Boston-based MASARY Studios, is an audio-visual installation with projections on scrims above the Arizona Canal. And “Mirage,” by Los Angeles artist Nancy Baker Cahill, is an augmented reality artwork that speaks to the event’s focus on sustainability. Canal Convergence first began to explore augmented reality in 2020 with AR enhancements to physical artworks, AR tours of the canal, and entire AR artworks — all experienced through the Hoverlay app.

Above: “Mirage” by Nancy Baker Cahill Studio.

The other artworks scheduled to appear at Canal Convergence include:

  • “AeroGels,” by Phoenix artist Roy Wasson Valle of Fireweather Studios, portrays the experiences of an artist on Mars in the year 2268 through augmented reality.
  • “Entwined Meadow,” by San Francisco artist Charles Gadeken, is a grove of 10 floral clusters with individually programmable light pixels, controlled by the public from a smartphone or tablet.
  • “illumaphonium: Halo,” by the artist duo illumaphonium of Churchstanton, United Kingdom, is a series of nine interactive towers that create ever-evolving patterns of light and sound through audience participation.
  • “Light Falls,” by artist Vigas of São Paulo, Brazil, is a towering waterfall of light with a range of colors and ambient nature sounds.
  • “Mini Nova,” by Los Angeles-based artist Abram Santa Cruz and Liquid PXL, is a collection of four sculptures that use hundreds of colorful LED animations to create brightly mesmerizing bursts of light.
  • “The Planets,” by PITAYA of Lyon, France, is a series of sculptures that that bring the cosmic beauty of our solar system down to earth, creating a disco ball effect in the surrounding environment.
  • “Time Stream,” by Phoenix-based artist Casey Farina, is an interactive artwork where participant movement is captured and projected into a virtual space.

 “This year’s selected artworks highlight a variety of technologies used in public art, from the creation of an interactive, digital time stream to a light installation controlled by the public in real time to augmented reality artworks that transport you to another world or remind you of the importance of our own world’s resources,” said Jennifer Gill, public art manager for Canal Convergence. “These awe-inspiring artworks — and Canal Convergence itself — are only possible through the advent of modern technologies, so this year we are celebrating the possibilities they create.”

 In the coming months, information about performances, workshops and other aspects of Canal Convergence will be added to the event website at CanalConvergence.com. For information about CODAsummit, visit CODAworx.com/codasummit-2021/.