San Diego fireworks fail is unintentional art

The Big Bay Boom — San Diego’s Independence Day Fireworks spectacular, billed as one of the largest shows in the country — has finally lived up to its name.

A technical glitch caused all of the fireworks to go off at once, igniting the sky with approximately 15 seconds of angry, simultaneous explosions. The show was supposed to last 18 minutes. In a statement on their Web site, Garden State Fireworks said they were working to determine what technical problem caused the launches.

But if you look at it through a different set of eyes, the San Diego Fireworks Fail of 2012 is an unintentional work of art. It’s a meditation on excess, and a bit of wish fulfillment — as one spectator tweeted, who hasn’t wondered what would happen if all of the fireworks went off at once?

It’s as if Cai Guo-Qiang, an artist who uses fireworks as his medium (you might remember his opening ceremony show from the 2008 Beijing Olympics), was feeling feisty. Though, if you were among the folks who paid $12 for parking to see less than a minute of explosions, you might not see it that way.

Update 3 p.m.: Not everyone who paid to see the show felt like they missed out. Reader Beagle1 responds in the comments:

We spent 6 hours total getting to/from the show and waiting for it to happen (before some PC person jumps on us for crowded CA freeways, I'll mention that we did take the trolley). It was an stunning 15 second display of massive firepower, with the contents of four different barges throughout the bay going off in sync with one another. We all assumed that it was just a new intro to the standard fireworks show, but when they started to tow the barges back in 30 minutes later, it was obvious that something had gone wrong. The crowds (estimated at 500,0000) were very disappointed, but pleasant and making jokes about the scheme to get everyone downtown to pay $20 for hot dogs and hamburgers.


View Photo Gallery: As people made their way to events, tens of thousands suffered through a fifth day without electricity amid a blistering heat wave.
Maura Judkis covers culture, food, and the arts for the Weekend section and Going Out Guide.
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