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Jack B

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  1. I have to say that all the comments about the cauldron not being 'visible to everyone' and other similar phrases are quite fallacious. I assume what they mean is not visible to people in the Olympic Park only. The fact that it is located in the stadium means it is in the largest venue. Almost certainly the tv coverage of the events which have drawn the biggest viewing figures have been for track and field so in all probability the cauldron has been seen by more people because of its location in the stadium than would have been the case on an external tower or high up on the stadium itself. As has been pointed out several times the non Olympic Park venues wouldn't have a view of it wherever the cauldron was located. What commentators really mean is that they would have preferred to have seen it located elsewhere...that's fine, as we all have our opinions and that is what this and other blogs are for, but, although I cannot prove it, the 2012 location is, in all likelihood, showing the cauldron to more people worldwide than if it had been located elsewhere. London didn't want a 'bowl on a pole' and after all 'variety is the spice of life'. I, for one, would like to see something different again in Rio de Janeiro.
  2. Here are some quotes from the London Evening Standard re London's design etc. Every host city has to do it there own way. It might be helpful to remember that in ancient Olympia during the games the flame was probably burning in a small bowl on the temple steps so in one sense the London approach to go smaller is far more in keeping with the original games. “In the Olympic Games, the stadium is the temple, and somehow this flame’s job is to be the altar,” Thomas Heatherwick tells me, the morning after the unveiling of his spectacular cauldron at the end of the Opening Ceremony. “There is a spiritual dimension, but without it being connected to any faith – the Olympics itself has its own power.” It’s a point he makes with his design. His cauldron is a stirring tribute to the human spirit. Inspired by Danny Boyle’s desire to do away with bombast and connect the ceremony with people, Heatherwick decided not just to pay lip service to Olympian ideals, but to evoke his awe at the notion of 204 nations coming together in peace. And in turn he has inspired awe in us. It is a work of visionary and poetic brilliance – a fitting culmination to a ceremony which opened with Blake and Shakespeare. He says he wanted to avoid “a shaped bowl on a stick” and the way he did so was breathtakingly beautiful. Our first glimpse was of mysterious metal rods with cupped copper petals at their tips, lying low in the darkness. The spectacle which followed was terrifically moving – the gentle chain reaction as each of the 204 flames lit, forming a glowing ring; the steady waves of light moving up towards the centre in waves, forming a dome of beacons; and that final dazzling burst. Like Boyle, Heatherwick looked to obscure, folkish British references – he was partly inspired by “the simple power of fire in the landscape” he found at the Hay on Fire Festival at Hay-on-Wye. But the elegant circles also aimed to create “an underwater moment”, like the movements of a jellyfish. It is remarkable that a feat of complex mechanical engineering could be balletic and graceful as well as starkly powerful. Thomas Heatherwick On… WHAT THE PETALS SYMBOLISE “We wondered if every country could bring a little piece, because that is what’s happening: each country is bringing a contribution to the Games, and it is the combination of all those that creates something bigger. Every single one of those copper objects is unique, we gave ourselves a lot more work by having to design 204 different objects. It felt like such an honour to do this, and so we spent thousands of hours designing each one, because we knew that the cauldron is not just some sort of theatre prop, one of those is going to sit there in a case somewhere, whether it is Liberia or Western Somoa, and it needed to be meaningful by itself. So when you see them together they are all jostling with each other, and we wanted there to be the gaps and cracks between them.” WHY COPPER IS BETTER THAN GOLD “We felt that gold, silver and bronze are pretty stitched up in the Olympics, and it could have so much obvious cheesiness - There is a raw quality to copper as a pure metal, and we find it in every home in our electrical wires and our boiler cupboards and our plumbing tubing” GOING AGAINST THE BRIEF “Our brief when the ceremonies team spoke to us with Danny was ‘could you design the cauldron? But whatever you do, don’t have any moving parts.’ There was this moment when we realised that the idea we felt really needed to be done used the most moving parts humanly possible to create a cauldron. So it is a pretty ultimate gadget, but it is a mechanical device, there is no trickery, there are no flashing LEDs.” DANNY BOYLE “It was great to work with Danny Boyle and his team, because he inspires the people around him in a special way. Even on the day of the Opening Ceremony, I was on the telephone with him for half an hour, to perfect how we would do the final lighting. The most high-pressured person in London, who had barely slept for weeks, wanted the artists around him to achieve what they wanted within the commissions that were part of his overview, his bigger vision. And he brought the best out of people around him.” KEEPING IT SECRET “We did all our rehearsals at three o’clock in the morning, because no one could know – no one, none of the volunteers, knew what the cauldron was. There were only about five or six of us in on it. Even while they were all practicing drumming and everything, underneath their feet was the cauldron, while everyone was imagining it was somewhere else, somewhere on the roof. The only time when the helicopter couldn’t fly over was when we tried out the movement and tested the flames - when everyone was out of the way.” A PEOPLE’S CAULDRON “With cauldrons, they have seemed to get bigger and bigger, and the spirit Danny was speaking about with his ceremony was to do with connecting more with people and rooting things, rather than them just being up in the air like a dream in the sky. And we were looking at pictures together in my studio, like the London 1948 games and there the cauldron was sitting in among the spectators in the stadium, it was there with everybody, it was a participant rather than a beacon in the sky.” (Finally, I say good luck to Rio for a successful games. JB)
  3. What a triumph...beauty and symbolism. Truly majestic.
  4. # 1550 Cauldron Lighter 20000 Club ~ It's NOT until the 3rd or 4th year (going by the normal pace of things) that they start signing up Ceremonies people. Look at Rio's case. Selected in 2009. It was only earlier this year that they signed Ric Birch & Marco Ballich to do their Ceremonies, and that is because Birch & Ballich can also put together the Handover segment of Brazil. The Stadium is being renovated; so they probably won't get tot he cauldron issue I'd say until next year. What Birch-Ballich & their Brazilian partners have to do for the next year is lay out the scenario & ground work for the Opening/Closing ceremonies; cost those out; and then present their ideas to the IOC. That's when they can start thinking of the cauldron-lighting scenario. I hear what you say, but again it is chicken v egg. If there is a great cauldron/lighting idea don't you think that would impact on the initial plans? I do, for to take the view that you go well down the planning road and then have to limit your options, or even reject a wonderful idea, because it couldn't then be incorporated into the grand scheme of things just doesn't make sense. That view perhaps might hold water if nobody had any serious proposals about the cauldron/lighting. However, this is the hub of what I have been arguing......it is a really important part of the opening ceremony....it's the Games' most symbolic ritual and the host city wants to either outdo the previous city or, at the very least match it. So my view is that ideas would have been sought and considered at an early stage and if favoured would be incorporated into the construction/modfication proposals. It's a question to which we don't know the answer as regards London, but earlier blogs prove that you are wrong in the case of Sydney because the cauldron idea came right at the outset so that allowed Stadium Australia's construction to incorporate it. In any event this blog wouldn't be here if people didn't agree with how significant the Olympic flame/cauldron/lighting is.
  5. Re #1540 I have to disagree. See mine #1515. Ever since Barcelona 92 cities have been trying to outdo their predecessors in terms of design/mode of lighting. A low priority, I don't think so.
  6. What seems obvious is that not too long after London's successful bid in 2005 people would have got round the table to discuss major 'Games' items. Among these would have included the manner of lighting the cauldron given the position from Barcelona onwards where increasingly different/novel methods have been employed. What nobody knows is whether a decision on this was made prior to the stadium design being finalised or not. Let's concede that it could be more difficult to design a retro cauldron/lighting later on and superimpose this on a stadium which could not be readily modified. Let's also recognise that the cauldron and its lighting method are increasingly seen as intrinsically linked. The days when someone designed a bowl and all that was required was for a flight of steps or an elevator to be added seem long gone. The announcement that Heatherwick was designing the cauldron (just the surround of the burner itself?) was made public in 2011..that does not mean his studio was not involved on this project long before that date.Surely his studio would have liaised with the stadium designers at an early stage if only to know what the means of supporting any cauldron would be. Given the nature of his many designs it seems barely credible that he would have agreed to design the 'bowl' if its means of support were in the hands of a third party which could massively detract from his own design. Keeping things secret are part of the modern games and it seems to me that some underground silo or compartment could have been incorporated into the stadium design early on. An alternative is for a prefabricated tower to be erected outside the stadium even during the evening of the ceremony: crane technology would allow for this. Having said all this I realise these comments do not move things forward much if at all....I really think we are going to see something completely different this time in London both in terms of the cauldron and it's lighting. It's the most deeply symbolic moment of the opening ceremony and the Heatherwick studio will have been well aware of this. Looking at a portfolio of their many designs over the years you are struck by their flair and originality. Prepare yourself for a series of beautiful 'moments' on 27 July.
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