A myriad of towers are currently under construction in the bustling city of Dubai and light artist/designer James Clar took note of construction lights being left on throughout the night. This prompted a rogue mission to selectively apply color filters to one of the unfinished buildings on Sheikh Zayed Road. Clar and his crew came up with a plan that involved sporting the same exact work gear as the laborers in order to gain access to lights higher up in the building. The end result was to be a neon happy face to remind the community of mixed class/race/culture of a positive message : "Relax. We all live here. Smile."
Unfortunately, they eventually got caught, were given a glimmer of hope, but were ultimately shut down in the end by the image-conscious owner, ironically crushing the installation's theme of community over commercialism.
Once we got to the Safety Manager's office I explained what we were really doing; an art installation. I explained the idea and showed him the proposal image; he smiled. He saw that nothing would be damaged and liked the positive message, but he could not give us permission, we would have to talk to the Site Manager the next day.
What followed was me coming back to the site five more times to present the idea to higher level officers each time. Each time they would comment the same thing "I really like this idea, however I can't give you permission, you need to see [higher level officer]"
At the end of all the meetings the owner of the building, a local Emirati, denied me permission. He could not allow the possibility of something going wrong or someone getting hurt on his site, it would generate bad press for him. Unfortunately, often times people are less motivated when there is no promotion of goods involved, it's harder for them to understand the intent.
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