Last Sunday, July 3rd, people flooded (pun intended) the streets of Yerevan with buckets, water-guns, water balloons, and other “water artillery” in-hand, ready to splash passersby for Vardavar. Vardavar is an Armenian holiday that stems from pagan origins, originally celebrating fertility, good crops, and the goddess Astghik. Today, it’s just an excuse to shower strangers with water and playfully cool off from Armenia’s powerful heat. It gets intense, and there’s definitely a lot of unfair play that borders on being dangerous, like people getting thrown into the not-so-deep swan lake (sounds like fun – until you break a limb). You either love it or hate it, and for the haters…it’s recommended to stay indoors.
For the first time, Armenia’s beloved TUMO Center for Creative Technologies organized a Vardavar event on its surrounding grounds. TUMO’s park and fountains were transformed into a one-day water park for kids and adults alike to celebrate Vardavar with a creative edge. The event theme: a Vardavar GIF day. TUMO invited several companies and organizations to design and set-up their individual game-stands that would engage participants. Each stand was also handed a waterproof iPad so that they could document the action with a GIF. Impact Hub had a large water slide, DEEM communications had an old-school car wash etc.
HAYP was also invited to participate, and we contacted artist and architect Sona Manukyan to collaborate on a potential water-themed installation piece. We designed several proposals, but in the end, time and funding were too short to carry out the project as we saw fit. Regardless, we spent a lot of time putting together some ideas, and we thought we’d share with you our renders and concepts. The area we selected was the TUMO cement bus stop at the park entrance. Here are the ideas we came up with.
IDEA 1: The cloud
Render of the bus stop with a hovering cloud installation:
This installation had several sources of inspiration. While thinking of water and its cleansing properties, we thought of a work that would send a powerful and positive message concerning the environment. We thought of the transformative properties of water, and also the dire state of pollution in Armenia. The result: a hovering white form within the bus stop frame that from afar would look like a cloud, and from up close, would reveal hundreds of suspended individual objects. On one side, we envisioned droplet-like shapes that would hang from transparent fishing-line string. The materials of these shapes would be white plastic bags, metallic cans, and other white, translucent and/or reflective reusable materials. On the other side, a series of suspended crystals would capture the surrounding light and give the illusion of rainfall or water droplets.
Conceptually, the cloud shows a transformation of “trash” into crystals, in other words the potential for positive change as well as a subtle reference to the economic potential of a green economy. From an experiential perspective, some of the hanging items would be white water balloons, and we hoped that people would play beneath the cloud and pop some balloons.
Some examples of inspiring crystal installations:
IDEA 2: The Blue Maze
This installation idea utilizes the same location, but features a series of zig-zagging twisted blue sheets of cloth that would connect one side of the bus stop to the other. From a distance, the colorful labyrinth of blue, turquoise, and white cloth intertwined intends to give the illusion of a splashing waterfall or misty haze.
From an experiential perspective, the maze was intended to be a game in which kids could climb through and over the cloth. The type of material that we were going to select would have been spongy and absorbent, so that as the structure would get wet from the surrounding fun and games, the sculpture itself would begin to drip as an extra effect.
In the end, our collaboration was postponed for technical reasons that were mentioned earlier. HAYP is all about having fun, but also while maintaining our mission for supporting and encouraging contemporary art and artists. We simply felt that with the amount of time we had to plan and build, we wouldn’t be able to uphold our standard for quality product and work. Regardless, TUMO Vardavar was a successful day of fun and games for kids and families who enjoyed a new twist off of a long-standing local tradition.