As an engineering student, Henan Kottayil Hyder was amazed by the La Machine mechanical creatures that performed in front of the National Gallery on Friday.
“To me, being an engineer, the way they built it is great,” the 26-year-old Hyder, who is a studying software engineering at Carleton University, said while discussing Kumo the spider.
“I think they have one guy (operating) each leg and they have to move the whole body with eight legs throughout the road, and that itself is an amazing feat — the co-ordination between these drivers.”
Fully outstretched, Kumo can stretch 20 metres long and 13 metres high, and takes more than a dozen people to operate.
Hyder and her friend, Juhi Khalid, 24, rode their bikes from Bayshore to the event in front of the gallery. La Machine was something they had been looking forward to for more than a month since finding out about it on social media.
“It’s amazing. The engineering, the band, everything. The show, the way it began was really nice,” Hyder said. “We came about five minutes late and by then the whole crowd was around it. We saw bits of it from quite far.”
Hundreds of people flocked to the Friday afternoon performance, and adults and children alike climbed some of the structures near the gallery to make sure they got a good view.
Long Ma the dragon-horse had spent the night at city hall but awoke at 10 a.m. Friday and made its way to the gallery where it met Kumo. The creatures came to life at 2 p.m. and wowed the crowd with their special effects, music and cool mist that sprayed spectators. The performance lasted about 20 minutes before the giant dragon-horse and spider continued their walkabout in the ByWard Market.
Some spectators looked frustrated as parts of the show were hidden by trees and other members of the crowd. Despite viewing the show from farther away, Hyder and Khalid said that they still enjoyed it.
“Even for the ones who are shorter like me, you can actually see everything,” said Rachel Lacrampe, 28, who is originally from Alberta.
Lacrampe and her friend, Yusef Rashid, arrived 15 minutes before the show officially began and luckily found a good spot to view the performance.
“I was looking at all the events for Canada 150 and a lot of them have been amazing, but this one stood out,” said Rashid, 34. “Creations like this walking down the street — that’s something you usually have to travel to see.”
Lacrampe was at the opening night of La Machine on Thursday evening and watched Kumo the spider awaken and descend from the Notre Dame Cathedral on Sussex Drive. There was criticism that Thursday night’s event took too long to begin. The show was scheduled to start at 8 p.m. but Kumo awoke closer to 8:30 p.m.
Brigitte Grandmont and her mother, Céline Grandmont, attended the performance on Friday morning at city hall and said everything began on time.
“I was not disappointed,” said Brigitte, who lives in Orléans. “It’s magic, the characters are enormous and they engage the crowd at the same time.”
Some spectators thought the location of Thursday’s event was interesting because of the architecture of Notre Dame Cathedral, but others didn’t share that view.
“I thought that it should have been on the art gallery,” said Lacrampe.
Others were critical of staging of the show at the cathedral for religious reasons. In a statement about the choice of Notre Dame as a location for Kumo the spider to rest, the Archdiocesan communications service said that the event was a good opportunity for the community.
“It offers an opportunity for the archdiocese, the Catholic community and Notre Dame Cathedral Basilica to cooperate with the city and the organizers to foster a positive relationship with the community at large as well as with many tourists, especially young families,” the statement said.
“It is also an opportunity for a positive civic relationship by joining in the Capital’s celebrations of our 150th, Ottawa 2017.”
La Machine continues Saturday throughout the day starting at 11 a.m. in the ByWard Market and will conclude on Sunday at 9 p.m. in front of the Canadian War Museum.
Original article written by Olivia Blackmore can be found here.