Beakerhead – making science fun through accessible and interactive art

Beakerhead returned to Calgary this fall and I devised my own walking tour of three mesmerizing installations on the Saturday. Since moving to Calgary I’ve noticed many public art works, and this festival builds on that foundation and promotes the intersection of science with art.


Starting downtown, I saw and heard an installation by Zimoun at Contemporary Calgary, a great gallery on Stephen Ave open free to the public. The work, a collaboration between Contemporary Calgary and Beakerhead, is described on the gallery website:

Using simple and functional components, Zimoun builds architecturally-minded platforms of sound. Exploring mechanical rhythm and flow in prepared systems, his installations incorporate commonplace industrial objects. In an obsessive display of simple and functional materials, these works articulate a tension between the orderly patterns of Modernism and the chaotic forces of life. Carrying an emotional depth, the acoustic hum of natural phenomena in Zimoun’s minimalist constructions effortlessly reverberates.

The work shifted as I walked around the space, listening to the effect of the 370 cotton balls bouncing at various speeds or stopping to hear the echo within an individual box. Here, the acoustic effects are both an art and a science, and the industrial materials transformed to an all-encompassing visual and auditory experience.

Zimon is on view until November 7.


Next, heading east I found Saturnian by Bee Kingdom Glass nestled in Fort Calgary among throngs of children eagerly waiting for their turn in the spaceship/narewhale cross cum bouncy castle. Near the castle was a list of questions for visitors to ponder, including

What do you think the Saturnian was designed for?

Why might whales be a suitable species to explore the universe?

and a discussion of the mechanics of navigating through space. The setting of Saturian with the Calgary skyline in the distance only added to its impact and provided a striking juxtaposition of colour, texture and intention.


Nearby I found Tentacles by UK artists Filthy Luker and Pedro Estrellas, an inflatable Octopus springing out McGill block in Inglewood. This work was often used as a cover image for the festival on social media, and the surreal nature of the installation lends itself well to attracting attention for the festival, evident by the pointing fingers of drivers and passerby’s. This delightful piece was accompanied by a series of facts about Octopuses, such as their massive brains contain half a billion neurons.


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