10 Must-See Installations and Activations at This Weekend's BLINK Cincinnati Festival

There will be 101 BLINK experiences spread across Downtown Cincinnati, Over-the-Rhine and Covington.

click to enlarge Architects of Air's "TIMISIEN" Luminarium will take over Ziegler Park from Oct. 13-16. - Photo: Provided by Game Day Communications
Photo: Provided by Game Day Communications
Architects of Air's "TIMISIEN" Luminarium will take over Ziegler Park from Oct. 13-16.

The BLINK art and light festival is returning to take over the streets and structures of Downtown Cincinnati, Over-the-Rhine and Covington from Oct. 13-16.

From 7-11 p.m. each night, 101 glowing installations, activations, murals and live performances will illuminate the city, made by local, national and international artists. This will be a blend of new faces, familiar events and novel installations, both in terms of artists and experiences.

For example, the U.K.-based Architects of Air will be setting up a new inflatable luminarium in Ziegler Park. Other experiential activations include the return of "Crescendo," an interactive light and sound sculpture involving a vintage Cincinnati-made piano; "String Theory for Dummies," featuring throwable balls of yarn; and "POOF!," described as "a giant creature that plays well with humans relying on its bright and colorful good looks to get people to 'feed' it."

“Some of our projection sites are familiar, like Memorial Hall, but have different artists assigned to them to mix it up and create some excitement,” BLINK Executive Director Justin Brookhart tells CityBeat. “Some favorites like [South African artist Inka Kendzia’s] projection onto the Faith47 mural on Liberty Street will come back in a new form with new artwork/animations.”

BLINK has released an official map to lead attendees to all 101 installations. But if you want to know what to prioritize, we have compiled a list of 10 "can't miss" BLINK experiences, including five favorites Brookhart shared with CityBeat.

Brookhart's Top 5:

1. "To the Moon" at The American Building
30 E. Central Parkway, Downtown
Brookhart says this is the tallest projection mapping project BLINK has undertaken. Artist, animator and designer Sean Van Praag — who has previously illuminated the exterior of Memorial Hall for past BLINK events — will lead the effort to turn this Art Deco downtown condo building into a beacon of light. 

2. “Cincinnati Toy Heritage” Mural
23 W. Court St., Downtown
“So many people tell me that’s one of their favorite murals in Cincinnati and so we’re really excited to be working on a collaboration between a projection artist from Spain named Graffmapping and the local artists that originally designed that work,” Brookhart says. Artist Jonathan Queen, who created the mural with ArtWorks, has sourced the original Kenner toys in the piece — things like a Care Bear, Strawberry Shortcake and Mr. Potato Head doll — to be 3D-scanned for the animation.

3. "In the Middle" at Mother of God Catholic Church
23 W. Court St., Downtown
“Mother of God Church in Covington is sure to be a showstopper,” Brookhart says. Italian artist Antaless Visual Design will be projection mapping onto the historic Italian Renaissance-style structure, completed in 1871. “[Antaless Visual Design] is one of the best projection mapping artists in all of Europe — and the world.” Antaless is also projection mapping onto Memorial Hall in Over-the-Rhine.

4. “TOROID” by This Is Loop
Freedom Way, The Banks
U.K.-based art group This Is Loop is bringing “TOROID” to BLINK. According to the group’s website, the work is a “a large scale immersive audio visual installation exploring perspectives of visual and auditory perception and presents a physical framework for the consideration of light, space and time and their interdependence and interaction with spatial perception.”

5. Shantell Martin and ArtWorks Mural Project
18 W. Elder St., Over-the-Rhine
International artist Shantell Martin is collaborating with ArtWorks on a special mural project near Findlay Market. “We candidly think [Findlay Market’s mural district] stands up to some of the mural districts that you see, like Wynwood in Miami and the RiNo district in Denver, Eastern Market in Detroit,” Brookhart says. Martin’s “iconic black-and-white drawings typically explore the themes of intersectionality, identity and play,” says a description from BLINK, so expect this site-specific artwork to riff on that.

click to enlarge "Breonna's Garden" - Photo: Provided by Breonna's Garden
Photo: Provided by Breonna's Garden
"Breonna's Garden"

5 More Installations We Can't Wait to See

6. "Breonna's Garden" by Lady PheOnix
Race and 15th streets, Findlay Market
"Breonna’s Garden," which first premiered at the Tribeca Festival before heading to Art Basel in Miami, is an augmented reality experience that pays tribute to Breonna Taylor. Digital curator Lady PheOnix worked with Taylor’s sister, Ju’Niyah Palmer, to create the experience, which puts the digital in the physical and surrounds viewers with some of Breonna’s favorite things, including flowers and butterflies. “We created 'Breonna’s Garden' to honor the life of Breonna Taylor with the intention that it be a peaceful refuge, unencumbered by the weight of the world,” Lady PheOnix said in a release.

7. "TIMISIEN" by Architects of Air
Zigeler Park, Over-the-Rhine
"TIMISIEN"will be the third BLINK installation by British production company Architects of Air, who wooed visitors with "DODECALIS" in 2019 and "KATENA" in 2017. The inflatable luminarium is a building-sized sculpture designed for visitors to enter and explore, described by the artists as “somewhere between a womb and a cathedral." Visitors are invited to wander through a labyrinth of tunnels and domes, each glowing with color and a peaceful soundscape. "TIMISIEN" is open from 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Oct. 13-16. Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for children under 10. Children under 2 are admitted free. Learn more at architects-of-air.com.

8. "CARE BEAR" by Michael Coppage
Aronoff Center, 650 Walnut St., Downtown
Cincinnati artist Michael Coppage is collaborating with local designer Jason Snell — a repeat BLINK artist — and Adam Wicktora. The trio is working together on Coppage’s 40-foot animated installation, "CARE BEAR," an extension of Coppage’s BLACK BOX mural series at the 21c Museum Hotel devoted to “positively highlight[ing] Black men, promot[ing] understanding and empathy, and foster[ing] education and healing,” per an exhibit description. “We plan on a really vibrant, colorful and entertaining offering. There will be lighthearted sequences that reflect the city and the state — like the state bird, flower, fish, spider and snake all making appearances,” Coppage told CityBeat. “The animation will cycle through the four seasons and will be full of Easter eggs that touch on lots of current social topics like COVID, the social unrest of 2020, Roe v. Wade, LGBTQ and more."

9.  "Acts of Holding Dance" by Wendy Yu
Federal Reserve, Fourth and Main streets, Downtown
Australia’s Wendy Yu has produced a dance-based projection in collaboration with local hip-hop arts center Elementz. "From our very first conversations with Wendy, she said, ‘I really wanted to capture some breakdancers, some hip-hop dancers, but I don’t want to use my friends here in Australia. I’d love to collaborate with some local dancers in the Cincinnati area,'” BLINK's Brookhart said.  Yu’s completed work will feature five different Elementz performers, animated in her style.

10. “YEMAYÁ SISTA TO THE DISTANT YET RISING STAR”  by WARMTH Culture
7-11 p.m. Oct. 14 in Gano Alley, 21c Museum Hotel, 609 Walnut St., Downtown
In early 2022, Cincinnati artists Alex Stallings and Cj Wooten brought a new music exploration series to the Queen City. WARMTH Culture is led by queer individuals and people of color and is named for the safe and welcoming energy each event strives to create. WARMTH's next activation — “YEMAYÁ SISTA TO THE DISTANT YET RISING STAR” — will fill Gano Alley with a live DJ showcase and dance performances during BLINK. The title is taken from the 1997 film Love Jones. In the movie, the character played by Larenz Tate reads a poem dedicated to the woman he’s in love with. “It’s an homage to Black women in a romantic sense, but also I think in a motherly, sister sense,” Stallings says. “Make them be seen, be heard and be respected. For this project, I want that to be resonating.”

See a full list of participating artists, an event map and get more info about BLINK at blinkcincinnati.com.

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