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This article was published 17/9/2018 (1005 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Wolseley artist Solmund MacPherson is giving a hand to all those who visit Millennium Library Park during Nuit Blanche Winnipeg this year — a giant, glowing animatronic hand.
MacPherson’s installation, titled Hand of the Machine, is one of seven Illuminate the Night public art projects scattered throughout Winnipeg’s core for the city’s annual all-night art party on Sept. 29.
The idea behind the public art piece stemmed from a documentary MacPherson made about a man who lost his hand in a forklift accident and created his own 3D-printed prosthetic after finding out how expensive custom-made prosthetics are.
"The whole thing articulates and it’s a lot easier than building an actual prosthetic because it doesn’t have to hold weight and it only has to work in one orientation. But it’s also much bigger than any prosthetic that’s ever been made," said MacPherson, who uses gender neutral pronouns.
The installation is made of metal rods and PVC pipe. When it’s completed, the hand will be 12-feet tall and able to move on its own thanks to a series of motors and some complex computer programming — which is uncharted territory for MacPherson.
"I knew so little that I didn’t know how little I knew," they said.
This visual art project as a whole is also a first for MacPherson, who works primarily in film and photography. When Illuminate the Night put out a call for submissions earlier this year, they decided to push their creative boundaries and apply.
"I’m still trying to figure out where I fit in the world creatively and I was interested in trying something that I’ve never done before," they said.
Illuminate the Night is funded by the Winnipeg Arts Council and accepts temporary public art proposals from artists across Canada. Nuit Blanche project co-ordinator Monica Derksen said MacPherson’s project was selected because of its interactivity and the universal familiarity of its design.
"It’s a piece of public art that’s instinctually understood what it is and what it does," Derksen said. "It also ties in accessibility and diversity and things like that, which we really loved."
MacPherson hasn’t tied any larger meaning to Hand of the Machine and hopes visitors to the installation in the courtyard of the Millennium Library (251 Donald St.) won’t read too much into the art piece.
"It’s great if it sparks conversation, but I don’t want there to be a right interpretation," they said. "I think fun is something that a lot of people don’t have when they grow up — I have a really hard time finding fun — and so I want to help that happen."
Nuit Blanche Winnipeg events are free to attend and are happening at various locations in St. Boniface, the Exchange District and downtown. Visit nuitblanchewinnipeg.ca for a full schedule.
Eva Wasney is a reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press.