emptyful

Artist: Bill Pechet
Program: Commission
Location: Millennium Library Park, 251 Donald Street         
Medium: Stainless steel, water, lights, fog, weather
Date: 2012

Description

emptyful, by Vancouver artist Bill Pechet, is based on the shape of a container, over 10 meters high, and made of stainless steel, lights, water and fog. It was created as part of the Winnipeg Cultural Capital of Canada project and the Winnipeg Arts Council’s Public Art Program.

emptyful is inspired by the idea that Winnipeg, (and the prairies which surround it) is full of emptiness...a boundless space where various phenomena such as weather, light, seasons and human endeavour come and go. The recognizable shape implies containment, but the open construction allows for the opposite: light, wind, rain and snow flow through easily. Through the open vessel Winnipeg architecture is framed and highlighted. This shape also suggests an experiment, as a way to acknowledge that the city itself is a constant experiment, the product of imagination and knowledge.

emptyful includes light and water features as well. A rain curtain and fog during are part of the piece during the summer. Tthese water elements and the container itself are lit at night with colours which cool and calm the summer heat, shifting greens, blues, aquas, whites, with the occasional burst of a hot colour. The winter lighting settings are softly pulsing fire colours….orange, yellows, soft whites, ambers and reds to bring a warm contrast to the cold evenings.

emptyful remarks   Bill Pechet
August 15th, 2012          

I first came to Winnipeg as a young boy… not physically… but through photos I saw of my father’s family, who had settled here from eastern Europe.

The Winnipeg I encountered then was a place filled with people eating delicious pickles, and  smoked goldeye, and walking on really windy streets wearing big furry coats and big furry hats…the city had a mythic status in our household because it was the origin of  my father’s translation into an urban Canadian.  He spoke both lovingly and critically of  Winnipeg….something I notice everyone I meet here still does…and that is a good thing.

When I saw the place for myself, I could sense, through space and people, an old soul of a city, where even, within its apparent areas of vacancy, a fully robust culture was humming away…a place where people are thinking deeply about their city,  through art and culture.

This gave birth to the idea that perhaps a piece of art could express this notion of a simultaneous empty and full environment where event comes and goes…. with as much force as weather itself. 

Seeing life as a complex balance between full and empty was also embedded into the piece…. So, although this is a vessel which can hold things like water, fog , snow and light, it is also meant to read as a meditation on what is real or illusory in our lives. It is an allegory, I suppose for the human condition itself, which, as we all know, never just says static but constantly is in a state of evolving.

Ok, I know that the piece has its humorous side…has a mad scientist, per chance, taken over a major public space in the city to perform a chemical and social experiment ?????…maybe…but this is just a way in, a way to encourage everyone to look, and then enjoy, and then think. The big beaker has variously been read as other things too and I welcome any interpretation that comes by…a fellow told me it looked like a big mosquito zapper and said ‘right on!:

I am so happy that Winnipeg has embraced this work

…at its core, it is a love letter to a city which made part of my family…it is meant to activate and dazzle those who come upon it to enjoy the urban space of Winnipeg, throughout all seasons, and to add to all the marvelous emptiness and fullness which can be found in this special place.

Artist Biography

Bill received degrees in geography and visual arts from the University of Victoria, in 1979 and 1981 respectively. In 1982, after spending a year in Japan, he entered the School of Architecture at the University of British Columbia. In his second year, Bill attended a studies abroad program for architecture in Hong Kong and then spent a year living in Manila and Tokyo, working for Rengo Keikakusha on urban design projects for those cities.

Bill graduated from Architecture school in 1987 with a thesis project called "The Museum of Sand", a theoretical zone of touristic and therapeutic spaces set in the dense heart of Tokyo. This project spawned a series of small play gardens and domestic objects called "Souvenirs from the Museum of Sand" which he continues to produce today. Some of these objects have become manifest into larger scales in his designs for urban spaces, cemeteries and public art.

For almost 20 years Bill co-ran an art and design practice with Stephanie Robb, called Pechet and Robb art and architecture. Their studio represented Canada at the 2006 Venice Biennale of Architecture with a mammoth installation entitled SweaterLodge.

Bill's studio has developed an oeuvre of interests which synthesizes his love of geography, art , architecture, and urbanism. His portfolio of projects vary in scale from small domestic objects and furniture, to set design, public art, gardens, retail environments, residences, plazas, cemeteries, urban design and civic infrastructure.

Additionally, Bill teaches architecture at the School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture (SALA) at the University of British Columbia, in Vancouver, Canada. His classes reflect the scope of his interests, working with students on such varied subjects as material invention, the culture of  construction, the architecture of public space, and the creative application of  building practices into contemporary architecture and urbanism.

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