Expanded Cinema

October is a good month in Dallas. The killer summer heat is ending and there are a lot of events scheduled in the, if not always pleasant, at least not toxic weather.

Only about a day or so ahead of time, I heard about something going on in downtown Dallas that looked interesting.

There is a relatively new hotel attached to the convention center – the Omni – that is skinned with four miles of light bars and more than a million LED lights. It’s an enormous computer controlled light show that’s only limited by the quality of the images. They say it’s like a low quality printer.

So, for the opening of the Dallas Videofest a dozen video artists were given the Omni hotel to use as a canvas, for a series of works under the moniker Expanded Cinema – MultipliCity.

Looking at a map of downtown I realized I could take the DART train downtown and then ride my bike onto the Jefferson Street Viaduct Bike Lane – there was a good view of the Omni Hotel from there.

Bicycle Lanes on the Jefferson Viaduct from Oak Cliff into downtown, Dallas.

Bicycle Lanes on the Jefferson Viaduct from Oak Cliff into downtown, Dallas.

When work ended I almost didn’t go. It was a tough week and I was exhausted. At home I stretched out on the bed and felt my motivation draining out. I wanted to stay home and watch television. It took all my motivation to get up, change, load up my bicycle, and ride out to the train station.

I knew I had to have my tripod with me if I wanted to take any photographs. For a long time I’ve been trying to figure out how to carry it on my bike. The legs collapse, of course, but it’s still pretty long. After thinking about it, imagining all sorts of different scenarios and improvised equipment – I simply took a single bungee cord and tied it to the rack. It stuck out the back… but it worked. Sometimes, simple is the best.

I rode the train to the Union Station and it was a short jump to get on the Jefferson Viaduct. As I rode up and over I noticed the old, abandoned parking garage that served Reunion Arena back in the day. I turned in and rode up to the top level, where there was a great view of the downtown and the Omni.

I was a little early and there was only one guy there – and I set up my camera and tripod.

My bike on the old parking garage with the Omni in the background.

My commuter bike on the old parking garage with the Omni in the background.

The only problem was that the audio portion of the program was broadcast on 97.1FM – and as I was packing up I realized that I don’t even own a portable radio. I would have to watch the show without sound.

As the appointed hour arrived a good number of cars started to arrive and try to jockey for position. Watching this comedy of of errors on the parking garage ramps below my perch was as amusing as the video show itself. A few more bicyclists came riding up and some police cars showed to work on reports and see what was up.

Watching the show from the roof of an SUV.

Watching the show from the roof of an SUV.

I have no idea who owns that old parking garage or if there are any plans for it in the future. It does have a spectacular view of downtown but there isn’t anything going on there now except a home (and bathroom) for homeless folks. I wish the city would do something cool – the top level of the garage could get the Klyde Warren treatment. A layer of dirt, some grass, and you would have another really amazing urban park. The levels of parking below could be used for visitors or for the Convention Center nearby. As a matter of fact, the Convention Center would benefit from a nearby open, grassy, park area with a killer view. It would be a great spot for outdoor events.

That’s my idea, at any rate.

My vantage point was a little too close and that emphasized the low quality of the image – and I missed not having the sound – but it was still a lot of fun to watch. I was glad that I made the effort to get out of bed and get down there.

A figure swimming across the hotel. (click to enlarge)

A figure swimming across the hotel.
(click to enlarge)

(click to enlarge)

(click to enlarge)

When the Expanded Cinema ended everybody switched positions – there was supposed to be a fireworks show in honor of the new observation deck on Reunion Tower. Nobody knew exactly where or when that was going to happen – but that’s a story for tomorrow.

Omni Hotel, Downtown Dallas

Omni Hotel, Downtown Dallas

3 responses to “Expanded Cinema

  1. Pingback: Bicycle Brewery Tour | Bill Chance

  2. Pingback: Expanded Couple | Bill Chance

  3. Pingback: Sweeping the Cycletrack | Bill Chance

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