Balancing Ground is both a playful space and a vibrant sculpture that can be activated by 1 or 100 people. It will be built on the foundation of community voices talking about balance in life and work. If you are willing to listen, Balancing Ground will literally speak to you.
A skeletal wooden structure houses six rows of five-foot-long pairs of wood benches and six ten-foot-long playground-style teeter-totters. These dynamic see-saws (driven by individual Arduino processors and accelerometers) allow people to play with physical balance and also to hear and to reflect on certain words and phrases that are evocative of balance–audio files are triggered as people go up and down, evoking a dialogue between the two sides. The voices will range from a square dance caller talking about the trust needed between partners on the dance floor, to a horticulturalist describing the stress on apple trees and the sweetness of their fruit when they are out of balance, to a local professor who writes about the ever-changing role of the Mississippi river for Twin Cities residents. It will take a city to build our sculpture.
Inside the space, specialized directional speakers play longer fragments of conversations and interviews about balance in tight, narrow beams of sound that can only be heard while in specific areas. This provides an intimacy to the act of hearing; one can hear a voice just above a whisper while the sound doesn’t spill out loud into the public space.
The installation gently reacts to the natural light transitions of the day through the lengthening and shortening of the structure’s many shadows, accentuated by the structure’s placement on the plaza. A canopy of prisms and reflective fragments are strung between the rafters casting bits of the rainbow spectrum down to the seating area below. The structure, proportions and fractured light suggest a sacred space deconstructed to its most elemental architectural components.
As the sun sets, theatrical lights illuminate the structure and the reflective materials of the canopy above, transforming the structure into an enlivened environment and an inverted silhouette of the intricate overhead patterns and shapes.
We hope that our proposal presents a space that has beauty, meaningful interactivity and playful participation. We’re interested in mixing movements that are calm and active and hope that in this space it is possible for people to successfully activate in large groups or as an individual; again calling back to the notion of a community or the sacred spaces of our cities where there is the possibility to have a moment of epiphany, whether the place is full or whether you’re the only one there.
Throughout the summer we plan to regularly activate the space with public events, including first Sundays with the Gorilla Yogis, square dances led by a local caller and band and community sings!
At the conclusion of the summer installation, the materials from the installation will be donated to Habitat for Humanity so that Balancing Ground will give back to the city that supported it.
Creative City Challenge background information
The Creative City Challenge (CCC) is a competition for Minnesota-resident architects, landscape architects, urban designers, planners, engineers, scientists, artists, students and individuals of all backgrounds to create and install at the MCC Plaza a temporary, destination artwork. The artwork acts as a sociable and participatory platform for summer-long onsite programming, and encourages a sense of connectedness to the city as a whole and its rich cultural and natural offerings. The MCC Plaza is a green roof that is located directly across from the MCC at 1301 Second Avenue South.
The CCCs goal is to draw visitors and residents of the city to the Minneapolis Convention Center as a central meeting space for the surrounding area, as well as to provide a compelling gathering site for the MCCs thousands of visitors. The commission fee for the winning project is $75,000, inclusive of all artist fees, installation and de-installation costs. The winning project will remain on the MCC Plaza throughout the summer and be the site of public events to be announced at a later date. The MCC is a site of convergence for visitors to Minneapolis from around the country and the world, as well as being a part of the local neighborhood, and Minneapolis downtown.
The Minneapolis Convention Center (MCC), the Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy Program of the City of Minneapolis and Meet Minneapolis, Convention & Visitors Association, in collaboration with Northern Lights.mn and the Northern Spark festival are responsible for the annual Creative City Challenge competition and associated programming.
More information about Creative City Challenge, past projects and the new winning project is available on the Minneapolis Convention Center website.
View more photos of Balancing Ground on our Flickr page