Five Wild Ideas to Make Indy Better
An All-Night Projection Festival
By Scott Stulen, Curator of audience experience and performance at the IMA
Screens are a ubiquitous presence in our daily lives, providing a constant backdrop in public spaces and a beckoning distraction on our smartphones. Our screen-filled environment provides a stream of vital information, but also becomes white noise, ever-present but unconsidered. What if, for one night, our screens became more than hosts for endless replays of SportsCenter and cat videos? Imagine a night illuminated by 10-story video projections on downtown buildings; secret, location-based cell phone viewing parties; stadium scoreboard takeovers; and entire sports bars becoming art-house cinemas. My idea is to launch an innovative, flagship cultural event for Indianapolis that becomes a source of civic pride.
The projection festival, titled Project/Project, would fill the city with videos, images, and light installations from sundown to sunrise. Inspired by the Nuit Blanche (“all-nighter”) format originally conceived in Paris in 2002, it would be an attempt to bring contemporary art to the masses. The Parisian festival—which simply opens cultural institutions at night and does not focus on video—now attracts a million people to the streets each year, and has led to similar happenings in Toronto, Chicago, Miami, Minneapolis, and San Francisco.
What makes Project/Project unique? We would concentrate on a specific, accessible, and democratic medium: the screen. The public, as well as artists and filmmakers, would create content, activating thousands of projection devices throughout the city. From cinemas to cell phones, the festival would incorporate programming by national artists, while encouraging drop-in participation from the public, including backyard movies and pop-up theaters. Related programs, originating at the IMA, would include midnight bus and bike tours. Plans are already underway to make this a reality. I’m partnering with local visionary Michael Kaufmann, and we’re in the early planning stages, with our eyes set on a 2016 debut. Indianapolis deserves an arts event that draws people from across the country, blows up social media, and makes residents see their home in a new light. Project/Project would bring wonder and joy to our city.