November 11, 2020

The theme of this year’s Canal Convergence was “Reconnect,” and upon reflection of those 10 days, I cannot think of a better word to describe the experience. The Scottsdale Arts Learning & Innovation team was proud to play a part in bringing together communities from literally around the globe to reconnect with each other through art—safely, remotely, and digitally.  

Canal Convergence workshop participants created text interventions at home with artist Kristin Bauer. Photo: Scottsdale Arts.

This unprecedented time allowed us to experiment with programming that was equally unprecedented. We used technology in exciting ways that have never been done before by us, or any other light-based event for that matter. Below are just a few of the many highlights from this year’s Canal Convergence. 

Augmented Reality 

Augmented reality allows you to see the natural environment with a digital overlay using your device’s camera. Canal Convergence visitors were able to watch holograms of artists talking about their work, go on virtual tours, and discover hidden animations. Thousands of attendees downloaded the Hoverlay app and participated in this safe and digital way to experience tours and artist talks. 

A first of its kind was the participatory AR experience with OGE Group’s Together! Responding to COVID-19. Users visited a website where they were able to share messages of hope and gratitude. These messages were uploaded daily to the AR app, which could be viewed as a virtual message board.  

OEG Group’s Together! Responding to COVID-19 artwork also included an augmented reality message board. Photo: Scottsdale Arts.

Other exciting experiences were designed in partnership with two local organizations, Phoenix College and Cosanti Foundation

Phoenix College faculty and students created five stops along the Scottsdale Waterfront featuring animations of fish and turtles that live in the canals. These were only viewable using the Hoverlay app. Photo: Scottsdale Arts.

Phoenix College Fine & Media Arts faculty and students designed Something in the Canal. Five stops along the canal presented animations of commonly found aquatic creatures in our canal system, including fish and turtles.  

Participants in Kyllan Maney’s radial drawing workshop show off their creations. Screen capture: Scottsdale Arts.

Workshops from Around the Globe 

We’re always excited to bring workshops to Canal Convergence, and this year was no different—just different in the delivery. Rather than in-person workshops, we hosted virtual workshops via Zoom. Participants were mailed supplies ahead of the event, then they tuned in to work with both local and international artists.  

Koros Design, from their studio in Budapest, walked participants through a step-by-step process to create kaleidoscopes. Photo: Scottsdale Arts.

Some highlights included creating kaleidoscopes with Koros Design from their studio in Budapest, Hungary (ideal for viewing their artwork Hidden Garden), creating text interventions with artist Kristin Bauer (whose work is currently on display outside of SMoCA), and making mediative mandalas with Kyllan Maney.  

Student Masterclasses 

Artists Ryan Edwards and Sam Okerstrom-Lang of MASARY Studios met with high school students in a virtual masterclass that resulted in student-created music compositions used in their Massively Distributed installation during Canal Convergence. Screen capture: Paradise Valley Unified School District.

Thanks to generous support from the SOAR Foundation, music technology students from North Valley Arts Academies met with MASARY Studios through a virtual masterclass. The students learned about the development of MASARY’s Canal Convergence artwork Massively Distributed and were then invited to submit a composition via Masary’s web app that was integrated into the final installation during the 10 days. More than 35 students (and teachers) submitted works that were viewed in three locations around Old Town Scottsdale.  

MASARY Studios created an instructional video that was sent to schools to create compositions using the web-based app for Massively Distributed. Photo: MASARY Studios.

We hope you had the opportunity to enjoy Canal Convergence in person, by car, by phone, or at home this year and used this experience as an opportunity to reconnect through the arts.

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