UPDATE: Downtown Kingston BIA to launch interactive light and sound display

Optik, an interactive art display that uses sound and light to create immersive, creative experiences for the public, with each of the structures playing tones of different musical keys, according to the Downtown Kingston BIA. Photo via Downtown Kingston BIA website.

UPDATE (Friday, Jan. 13, 2023):

Today, the Downtown Kingston Business Improvement Area (BIA) announced that the OPTIK display will now be set up beside Springer Market Square, instead of on Sydenham Street as originally planned.

“The gyroscope-like structures containing reflective colourful centres, each sounding like a different musical instrument will be available to play on Market Street between Ontario Street and King Street East starting January 21st until February 11th,” reads the latest release from the BIA.

Citing “logistical compatibilities” with the Sydenham Street location, the BIA noted that visitors are encouraged to enjoy Optik’s colourful tunes and glowing lights with good company while they kick back in bright red Adirondack chairs, enjoy a hot chocolate from one of the local cafes, or skate the night away on Kingston’s unique rink outside City Hall. According to the release, cozy fire pits will be lit in Springer Market Square Most afternoons and evenings making the community space inviting for everyone.

“Sydenham Street is a natural choice for a pedestrian-only community gathering space and the Downtown Kingston BIA is committed to utilizing this area for future programs and activations,” said Marijo Cuerrier, Executive Director of the BIA.

For more information visit downtownkingston.ca/optik

Original article:

A block of Sydenham Street between Princess and Queen Streets will come alive with sound and light upon the arrival of OPTIK, an interactive light and sound display.

The display is designed to “create a space where the community can come to play, connect, and create together with friends and family,” and its international and national premieres took place just recently, according to a press release from the Downtown Kingston Business Improvement Area (BIA) announcing the arrival of Optik in February 2023. The interactive art installation premiered at Navy Pier in Chicago in November 2022, and then at the ByWard Market in Ottawa on Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2022. Optik will remain in Ottawa throughout Winterlude until Friday, Jan. 20, 2023.

According to the BIA, the “gyroscope-like structures” contain “reflective, colourful centres, each with their own musical key.” The installation will be on display – and available to play – from Friday, Jan. 20 to Saturday, Feb. 11, 2023, said the local organization, which represents the interests of businesses in Kingston’s downtown core.

“We rely on Creos (a Quebec business specializing in interactive installations) to bring world-class installations to the streets of downtown Kingston. They were responsible for the gigantic teeter totters in Springer Market Square that were such a hit last year,” said Marijo Cuerrier, Executive Director of the BIA, in a statement.

“This year we wanted to try a different location – a destination for people visiting downtown Kingston – to draw them up Princess Street,” she continued. “There are many great shops, cafes, restaurants, and specialty stores beyond Springer Market Square.”

The BIA said that Optik is meant to reflect the “natural lights and colours of the city,” while “refracting the lighting” using the inner mirrors within the structures, making it “a must-see experience day or night.”

Optik reflects and refracts light, making it “a must-see experience day or night,” the Downtown Kingston BIA said. Photo via Downtown Kingston BIA website.

“As visitors spin each display, each unit transforms into a unique musical instrument filling the street with the soft sounds of piano, guitar harmonics, acoustic bass, and more,” the press release reads.

“Bringing activations like Optik to downtown Kingston gives the community the opportunity to enjoy a different way of interacting,” said the BIA. “Whether visitors are local or from afar, spending time along our downtown streets will offer plenty of fun opportunities, allowing everyone to fully embrace the season while continuing to build downtown Kingston into the ultimate winter destination.”

“The Optik installation is made possible by 700+ business and property owners in Downtown Kingston. Optik is a creation by The Urban Conga, in collaboration with Serge Maheu, produced by Init and tour produced by Creos.”

For more information on the interactive installation from the BIA, visit their Optik installation webpage.

Kingstonist inquired about the cost of securing and erecting the installation, as well as where the funds come from to cover those costs. According to the BIA, “installations of this calibre,” range from $30,000 to $80,000 for the timeframe that’s been selected.

“Some of the funds formerly used for Feb Fest (out of the events budget from the BIA levy) will be covering the cost of the installation,” said Jan McDonald, Director of Events for the Downtown Kingston BIA, noting that the BIA is entirely funded through a levy paid by property and business owners within the boundaries of the BIA, and that the BIA is not funded by the City of Kingston.

For more information on the interactive installation from the BIA, visit their Optik installation webpage.

One thought on “UPDATE: Downtown Kingston BIA to launch interactive light and sound display

  • The BIA should really find some better way to promote the downtown businesses besides blocking off one of the streets with another oversized playground. Those “teeter totters” were scarcely used on most days, yet King Street was blockaded for a month, (with inconvenience to many vehicles trying to get around City Hall). City Council should really consider why streets need to be blocked for promotional stunts like this. The worst instance was closing off Ontario Street, in front of the City Hall, for nothing more than a “bouncy castle” (which could have been as readily located in Confederation Park rather than in the street).

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