Ingenuity Fest Turns 10: Ingenuity's Celebration of Art (And a Whole Lot More) is Bigger and Better than Ever

A decade ago, James Levin and Thomas Mulready had a dream for a regional festival simultaneously celebrating the creativity of Northeast Ohio while using under-utilized venues throughout Cleveland. Levin and Mulready had previously worked together to create the Cleveland Performance Art Festival (CPAF). For more than a decade (1988 to 1999 and 2003), the CPAF brought more than 1,000 artists from 27 countries to Cleveland. It was one of the largest festivals of its kind in the world.

Levin is perhaps better known as the founder of Cleveland Public Theatre, and has more recently founded the One World Festival. Mulready is the founder of the online weekly Cool Cleveland (where I first began writing about art).

Thus was born IngenuityFest, which took up the mantle of the CPAF and more. This year, Ingenuity turns 10.

Over the past decade, this weekend-long event has evolved into an interactive celebration of technology, science, art, music, dance and the industrious human spirit.

"We have some great entries to choose from this year," says James Krouse, Ingenuity's artistic director. "This year's IngenuityLabs project, S.A.R.A. (Synthetic Augmented Reality Application), which combines technology and dance, will be a very captivating piece and ultimately a great educational tool."

Organizers anticipate 40,000 visitors throughout this weekend's festival. For the past two years, the Fest has taken place at the docks (and surrounding area) just north of First Energy Stadium. This year, the Fest returns to Dock 32, but it also sprawls out to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum and the Great Lakes Science Center (and the surrounding area).

"As we celebrate Ingenuity's 10th anniversary, it is thrilling to see the festival begin to transform into a multi-venue event," says Ingenuity's executive director Paula Grooms. "It was part of the original vision for the festival and it's a crucial step in realizing our goal to transform the festival into a destination event with multiple weeks and venues!"

And there is plenty to do, so let's run through some highlights.

On Saturday, the Great Lakes Science Center will house the Engines of Ingenuity Summit (noon to 5 p.m.), an afternoon of presentations, exhibitions, problem solving and more. Topics include Adaptive Innovation, Defining Audience in the 21st Century, Intellectual Property vs. Open Source and more. The event will feature speakers from Case Western Reserve University, the Cleveland Clinic and Key Bank among others. Over the course of the afternoon, you'll experience lightning talks, pitch-a-thons, cross pollination sessions, "unlikely conversations" and exhibit space with table top demonstrations. (General admission is $5).

Throughout the weekend, visitors can expect more than a dozen art/technology installations, dozens of performances, three stages of live music, food vendors and much more. Pinch and Squeal's Voix de Ville mini mobile circus tent returns with unique performances. Get there early; last year there were long lines, and the tent seats only 60 people. Also returning this year are Tesla Orchestra and Medicine Cabinet – with a new "giant bubble" live music venue.

S.A.R.A. was originally created as a stand-alone app, designed to translate a user's surroundings into sounds on mobile devices. Ingenuity sought to explore the potential of a mobile device as a wearable, unique musical interface. The result is a device that creates video and sound based on the device's camera input and the movement of dancers. Imagery captured by the camera is transformed into "synthetic-inspired" sounds – turning the dancers into the composers, and their bodies into the instruments.

Similarly, Joel Corelitz's Constellation invites the audience to use their smart phones to control elements of the music and visuals. Iron Composer is a competition in which five selected composers compete in the spirit of Iron Chef. On Friday morning, Sept. 26, the participants are assigned an instrumentation and a secret musical ingredient. Five hours later (from 8 to 10 p.m.), the works will be performed and judged during a public concert at the Great Lakes Science Center's Reinberger Auditorium.

Anthony Castrovano's Kinetic Bonfire is an interactive sculpture installation that requires audience participation to function. Participants pedal stationary bikes around a central bonfire. Each bike activates one small section, so you have to work together to realize the full potential of the piece. Brian Peters' Solar Bytes Pavilion features approximately 90 solar-powered, plastic bricks. The bricks are created using 3-D printers, and each contains a solar-powered LED. The goal of the project is to demonstrate the potential of 3-D printing at an architectural level.

Local artists Rust Belt Monster Collective are back again this year to collaborate on a live mural. "For the third year in a row, the Rust Belt Monster Collective returns to IngenuityFest," explains the group in a collective statement. "In previous years, we have painted live on a 24-foot canvas. This year, we're taking the experience gained from painting regularly around the region to complete a mural more than double the size. To embrace the spirit of blending technology with art, we're incorporating projected animation into this year's live mural focusing on blending robotics with our trademark collaborative style."

There's simply too much scheduled to list it all here. Check out for a full rundown.


5 p.m. to 1 a.m. Friday, Sept. 26;

Noon to 1 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 27;

Noon to 5 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 28;

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