Bathers set to swim through pool artwork

A SWIMMING pool is to be transformed into a huge three-dimensional artwork which bathers can swim through.

Artist Michael Pinsky is to turn out the lights at Portobello baths and project life-sized moving images of crowds of swimmers across the pool, with members of local sports groups invited to join in and take a dip.

The images used in Stroke have been created from films made at the baths earlier this year, digitally tweaked to create different effects, such as a crowd of swimmers darting through the water like a shoal of fish.

The London-based artist, who has worked on public art projects in Austria, Canada, France and Germany, said: "I spent about three days filming in the pool. I'm in the process of editing all that footage and isolating all the people swimming from the pool itself and then I'm reconstituting it so they'll become like shoals of fish or whales, or take some other form. I blow them up and make them more transparent and they run along the pool.

"It will be all images taken from Portobello swimming pool so I've got the synchronised swimming club and lifesaving club. It's all recombined and then projected back in the pool."

He said his models had been keen to take part in the project, which is based on a similar event he created at Victoria Baths in Manchester.

"There's a lot of issues about filming people in public, especially children, so everyone's signed that they agree to be filmed. We had a notice up and every single person who came in had the opportunity to sign up or not to sign up, and everybody has – which is reassuring that people aren't too bothered about Big Brother yet," he said.

The project, which opens on 27 March, is the first of three pieces of public art to be commissioned by Portobello-based Big Things On The Beach this year. In previous years the public art trust has commissioned giant sand pyramids on the beach and created art galleries in residents' front gardens.

Participation worker Susan Grant said: "The pool has a balcony area, so it's perfect – as well as being a nice Victorian pool, both the artists and the audience can use the balcony.

"We'll have dimmed lighting, it's at night time and it's quite unusual because we're having events until 11 o'clock at night, and some members of the swim clubs will be swimming amongst it."

The event, which is funded by the Scottish Arts Council and the city council, is open for spectators on the evenings of 27, 28 and 31 March, and 2 and 3 April. Entry is free. For times see www.big thingsonthebeach.org.uk.

Michael Pinsky will give a talk at the Portobello Public Art House, 56 Kings Road, at 2pm on 28 March.

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