When it was announced early in the year that the 2019 version of BLINK would extend across the Ohio River and into Covington, the team at Spotted Yeti Media got busy.
“That really sparked our interest,” says Molly Berrens, founder of the video marketing business located on Sixth Street in Northern Kentucky’s largest city.
She and her team put together a portfolio of their best work, as well their creative resumes and sent them off to Steve McGowan and Dan Reynolds, the partners in downtown creative agency Brave Berlin and the creative directors of Blink.
In June, the Spotted Yeti team was selected as one of the artist groups to project motion graphics on one of the region’s buildings and were given a plum site on which to work their magic, the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center on the banks of the Ohio.
The company will be one of 34 artists or organizations creating large-scale projection mappings for BLINK 2019, the art, light, and culture event that will happen Oct. 10–13.
After the success of BLINK 2017 — about a million visits were made to that event — this year’s version will extend into Northern Kentucky, making it a happening that will bridge two states and span 30 blocks and the Ohio River.
Covington will be one of BLINK's most densely packed zones for art, light, music, and food. More than 20 installations will be featured from the Roebling Suspension Bridge to Seventh and Madison, as well as dozens of activities and street performers.
The signature element will be the Suspension Bridge, which will be lit up and set to music. The BLINK team has been thinking about doing something with the landmark span for nearly a year.
“We wanted to take advantage of this Cincinnati icon,” says Brave Berlin’s McGowan. “We studied the architecture, and also the love affair that Cincinnati has with it as the singing bridge and the sound that it makes. It brings back memories. Putting all that together, we created a vision for the bridge.”
Erlanger-based Vincent Lighting Systems will create and produce the lighting designs that will bathe the bridge in color. Established in 1978, Vincent has worked on entertainment and architectural lighting projects that include the Big Four Bridge that connects Louisville and Jeffersonville, Ind. across the Ohio River and the exterior steeple lighting at Old St. George Church in Clifton when it was renovated by Crossroads Church.
Boston-based Masary Studios is creating the sound that will synchronize with the lighting program.
“How can we create a musical score that is born of the sound that the bridge actually makes,” was the challenge, McGowan says.
“The bridge itself, we’re treating it a musical instrument,” he said.
The Masary team has taken audio samples from the bridge and has turned them into an original piece of music that will match the lighting program and change every 30 minutes.
“Imagine the bridge being played like an instrument,” McGowan said.
The bridge will be open to pedestrian traffic and Oggo will provide rides across in its electric vehicles.
There will be lots to explore.
The Ascent and its signature swooping design will come to life, bathed in animated light on all sides with vibrant colors and patterns.
A mural celebrating Carol Ann and Ralph V. Haile, Jr. will be created on the back of the U.S. Bank building at Sixth and Madison. Ralph Haile, who died in 2006, was the CEO of Peoples Liberty Bank in Covington, a bank that was also in the family of his wife, Carol Ann, whose father had been CEO. Their wealth created the Carol Ann and Ralph V. Haile, Jr./U.S. Bank Foundation, a major supporter of BLINK.
BLINK will highlight two internationally acclaimed street artists through architectural projection mapping. Both sides of the Faile Mural on West Sixth Street will be brought to life by local motion graphic designer Chris Glenn. The London Police mural on Fourth and Scott Street will be lit up with motion graphics by Brave Berlin.
Another architectural projection mapping will animate the Hannaford Building at Sixth and Madison. To do the work, BLINK commissioned Klip Collective, a pioneer and creative powerhouse in projection mapping from Philadelphia.
Grouplove, the rock band best known for its Billboard top-five charting songs, “Tongue Tied,” “Ways to Go” and “Welcome to Your Life,” will play a free concert the night of Saturday, Oct. 12 in Covington’s RiverCenter parking lot.
What is being as the world’s largest mobile disco ball, made in Louisville, will return and find its home in Covington for a pop-up disco party.
The team of Matthew Dayler and Robby Burgess, collectively known as Xylene, will create a mural on the side of the Madison Street parking garage near RiverCenter, a mural that Brave Berlin will create motion graphics for.
Operating out of The Lodge, a studio and art collective in Dayton, Ky., Dayler and Burgess pay the bills by designing and painting large scale murals for restaurants, bars and schools. They often painted murals in local bars run by Josh Heuser and Andrew Salzbrun, the partners in creative experience agency Agar, one of the BLINK founders.
After seeing a video of projection mapping done on a piece of street art by noted Australian graffiti artist Sofles, the Xylene team’s creative competitiveness kicked in. “We immediately sent that to Josh and Andrew and said we can do this way better,” Dayler says.
For BLINK 2017, Dayler and Burgess created the “Xylene” mural on two towers of a five-story apartment building in Over-the-Rhine, a mural that was lighted with motion graphics.
For the façade of the Freedom Center, (the team will be projecting on to the eastern wall facing Great American Ball Park) the Spotted Yeti crew has created a design it calls “HueManity: A Journey Through Light and Color That Brings Us Together In a Place We Call Home.”
The Freedom Center architecture is largely free of windows and other design elements that would typically need to be incorporated into a projection mapping design. “One of our main objectives was to actually tell a story with our project because we had this blank canvas,” Berrens said.
As Dayler does, Berrens sees Blink as a grand opportunity to get creative outside of the constraints of the corporate work they do.
“As artists, we don’t get too many opportunities to do art for art’s sake and to choose our content and to challenge us,” she says. “It’s an opportunity for us to be artists and not be inclined to corporate objectives with our storytelling.”
Corporations, however, are playing a big role in bringing BLINK to Northern Kentucky this time around. Sponsors from the region include real estate developer Corporex, the Greater Cincinnati Foundation, St. Elizabeth Healthcare, the Covington Business Council, Huntington Bank, Citicorp, and the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport.
BLINK 2019 is free and open to the public. It runs from Oct. 10–13 from just after sunset (around 7:15 p.m.) to 11 p.m.