SAIT instructor gets ‘kinetic’ at Beakerhead

SAIT communications instructor Bruce Watson revealed his kinetic sculpture, titled Chorus Line, in collaboration with Beakerhead at Bridgeland on Sept. 17.

Bruce Watson is a sculptor and a painter who has been teaching at SAIT since 1997.

“The piece suggests a relationship between technology and people, but whether we are the masters or slaves in that relationship remains a question,” Watson said.

The sculpture, Chorus Line, is motorized and made out of glass, steel and wood.

“Essentially, if you could make a pair of test tubes walk, that’s what it does,” he said.

Glass Bending: Chorus Line, Bruce Watson's motorized sculpture, is moving its glass tubes at Bridgeland park in Calgary on Saturday, Sept. 17, 2016. Watson is a communications instructor at SAIT, as well as a sculptor and painter. (Photo by Peter Shokeir/The Press)
Glass Bending: Chorus Line, Bruce Watson’s motorized sculpture, is moving its glass tubes at Bridgeland park in Calgary on Saturday, Sept. 17, 2016. Watson is a communications instructor at SAIT, as well as a sculptor and painter. (Photo by Peter Shokeir/The Press)

Watson made Chorus Line at the request of Beakerhead, a five-day arts and science festival that ran from Sept. 14-18.

Beakernight is one of Beakerhead’s major events, taking place during the night and closing off four blocks for its attractions.

Beakerhead’s exhibits, like Chorus Line, are a mash-up of art, science and engineering.

Watson created several mock-up sculptures with cardboard in preparation for the real thing.

He said creating his sculpture was a process that required no special techniques but that it did eat up a lot of time.

He also said he didn’t seek to make a statement with Chorus Line, but that the sculpture took on a number of meanings while being constructed.

“I didn’t make it to convey a meaning,” Watson said.

“I made it to see if it could be made.”

Watson presented his sculpture an hour and a half before Beakernight began, so that people could view his sculpture before attending the event.

Nicole Flodberg, a friend of Watson’s who was present at the unveiling, said what most struck her about the sculpture was how the glass appeared to be bending whenever it moved.

“It almost looks like someone cross-country skiing,”she said.

The sculpture itself resides in a Tinier Gallery.

These galleries are outdoor installations placed along sidewalks designed to help emerging artists share their work with the community.

Watson said these galleries use the same kind of model as the Little Free Libraries, outdoor boxes where people can take and leave books at their leisure.

Chorus Line will remain in its instillation for the next couple of months until another sculpture replaces it.

Watson said he has been woodworking for years and is self-taught, describing his passion as a “serious hobby”.

He mostly works with wood, occasionally using steel rods and altogether avoiding any complicated electronics.

“I don’t do anything that’s super sophisticated,” he said.

“It’s all gears and levers that I can work out on my own.”

Watson has a master of arts degree in English literature and is specifically trained in visual communication.

In addition to teaching at SAIT, he also taught composition at the University of Alberta and the University of Calgary.

Watson has developed several courses and educational tools for SAIT, such as the Academic Honesty Awareness tutorial that all SAIT students are required to take.

I didn’t make it to convey a meaning. I made it to see if it could be made. – Bruce Watson

Watson has done other sculptures in the past, but this is his first time building something for Beakerhead.

While his passion has little to do with his professional life, Watson said he would encourage his students to participate in Beakerhead.

“There’s still a lot of room for the more amateurish artists.”

About Peter Shokeir 5 Articles
As a writing and communications major in the journalism program at SAIT, Peter Shokeir is working as a reporter for The Press during the 2016-17 academic year.