Wednesday, August 06, 2008

The Chinese originally invented gunpowder for creating fireworks to pay homage to the Gods

Cai Guo-Qiang, a multi-medium artist renowned for his firework displays ("explosion events"), is playing a large role in the opening and closing ceremonies of the Olympics this year, and I must admit that I'm a little excited and curious to see what it's going to be like. Is it going to be noticably different than displays from previous Olympics? Is it going to be a little hokey and Disney-inspired like the ceremonies always seem to be nowadays? Please, no firework smiley-faces!

I once saw a short film on Cai Guo-Qiang when he was creating a project in Shanghai (I believe it was the largest fireworks display ever produced). The footage I saw from this was amazing and all other fireworks I've seen were instantly downgraded by comparison. One of the most unique things about it was how he paid attention to the smoke formations and played with the way the light reflected off them at certain points. (There is a huge difference between randomly shooting fireworks into the sky and making an art of it; Cai designs the individual rocket explosions as well as orchestrating their complete symphony.) The entire city looked like it was on fire.

And hopefully he's involved with more than just the pyrotechnics.

8/08/08 at 8PM. Might be worth watching.

1 comment:

Hectocotylus said...

Well, I did spot some firework smiley faces... Overall, the pyrotechnics in the opening ceremonies were pretty generic. I'm not sure if this was due to NBC constantly cutting away from the fireworks or if they were actually fairly ordinary. I suspect the latter. The rest of the ceremony was enjoyable -- a little cheesy at times and a little great at times. I've always liked the Olympic rituals (and rituals in general) and the ideals they represent during the games. Carrying a symbolic flame across the world to use in the lighting of a symbolic torch? Fantastic. I'm glad I live in a world where people are willing to play make-believe with such ideas. During the Olympics, we are given the illusion that the people of the world would all get along with one another if our respective governments and their tentacles didn't get in the way, and sometimes I enjoy getting rid of my cynicism and deciding to take the gigantic Olympic play as seriously as those who are participating. It's like a giant religious ceremony that is being used to summon up something greater than ourselves. Sometimes it's just nice to watch the world play pretend.