Pyrotopia

Published On April 24, 2012 | By Kymbo Slice | The Arts
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If you were one of those special children who enjoyed playing with fire, we’ve got an event for you. It’s called Pyrotopia. It’s free, and it’s happening this Saturday the 28th at The Historic Pump House & Water Tower at the Waterfront. This event is the first of its kind on the east coast and is supported in part by a Seed Award from The Sprout Fund and a Small Arts Initiative grant from The Heinz Endowments. Funding from the Grable Foundation will support daytime educational and DIY arts programming for children, family-oriented activities, and promotion geared to bring families to the event. The team producing Pyrotopia is comprised of artists, technologists, producers and other experts with long-term experience in working safely with fire and employing fire in artistic practice.

Pyrotopia was founded by Eric Singer, a Pittsburgh-based musician, artist, engineer and programmer and the Founder of LEMUR: League of Electronic Musical Urban Robots. He has over 20 years of experience in the areas of electronic musical instruments, interactive systems, robotics and pyrotechnics. He performs and lectures around the world and teaches a wide range of art and technology subjects. He is known internationally for his software and hardware products for interactive art creation, and those are only a few of the items on his resume!

Check out the teaser video they put together:



Festival installations and performers will include:

• Flaming Simon, a fire-driven version of the electronic game “Simon” created by Pittsburgh artist and Pyrotopia founder Eric Singer.
• Fiery Flamenco Dancing by Carolina Loyola-Garcia. She will perform “In the Time of Memory” with live musical accompaniment by Jon Bañuelos, James Bond, Luke Savage and Barb York.
• Fire spinners and dancers from Steel Town Fire, Pittsburgh’s premiere fire performance troupe.
• Megavolt Tesla Coil, a six-foot tall Tesla coil created by Pittsburgh engineer Mark Barlow.
• A special ground-effects fireworks show by New Castle’s Pyrotecnico, which orchestrated the dazzling fireworks display at the 2011 Three Rivers Regatta.
• Live demonstrations of fire-related arts, including glassblowing, pewter casting, and plasma torch cutting.

The evening will be co-hosted by jazz chanteuse and NYO writer Phat Man Dee, as well as performance artist Andrew the Impaled. DJ Zombo will play special sets of fire-themed music throughout the night. Phat Man Dee had this to say about the event:

Pittsburgh was once described as “Hell, with the lid off” and while we don’t fuel our industry with coal anymore, that doesn’t mean we don’t like a good fire. Take our fascination with fireworks…. an old friend of mine from the circus, David Apocalypse, just bought a house up in S Side slopes and the big selling point for him was the possibility of seeing fireworks from his back window. You have to strain your neck a little, but, sure enough, come Pirates home game day, the brilliant plumes of fireworks were clearly visible from his 2nd and 3rd story windows. He was so excited, he reminded me of a 6 year old at Christmas. I don’t think a love of fire is intrinsic to the people of Pittsburgh, but I think sometimes we are a bit more pro active.

Hence, this weekend’s first ever festival of it’s kind on the East Coast, “Pyrotopia, a Festival of Fire Arts”. Personally, as a long time member of the Burning Man community and the more local Starwood and Brushwood and Frost Burn communities, I love everything from a small campfire to a 90 foot high burning facsimile of an oil derrick making a statement about environmentalism and every flaming piece of art in between. This is why I am so very excited about co hosting this weekend’s event at the Carrie Blast House on the Waterfront in Homestead, PA. I’m excited it’s free, I am excited there are safe kids events during the day, I am excited to see and introduce Carolina Loyola-Garcia’s flaming flamenco and Steel Town Fire’s dancing fire spinners and Eric Singer’s Flaming Simon and a Mark Barlow’s 20 foot high Tesla coil and of course, Pyrotecnico’s dazzling ground effects fireworks display….But most of all, I am excited it is happening in Pittsburgh. For the first time ever, fire art in our city shall be displayed in context, amidst a historically significant backdrop, reminding us that while we are no longer “Hell with the lid off” our souls still burn with a fiery passion, and I am just excited that I get to help sing to fan the flames…….

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