Cloud Gate

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Cloud Gate
From the west (left) and east (right), the skyscrapers to the north along East Randolph Street (The Heritage, Smurfit-Stone Building, Two Prudential Plaza, One Prudential Plaza, and Aon Center) are reflected on Cloud Gate's surface. Additional Historic Michigan Boulevard District buildings reflect off the west side.
Artist Anish Kapoor
Year 2004–2006
Type Stainless steel
Height: 33 feet (10 m)
Length: 66 feet (20 m)
Width: 42 feet (13 m)
Displayed Millennium Park,Chicago, Illinois, United States

Cloud Gate is a public sculpture by British artist Anish Kapoor. It is the centerpiece of the AT&T Plaza in Millennium Park within the Loop community area of Chicago, Illinois, and is located on top of Park Grill and adjacent to the Chase Promenade. The sculpture was constructed between 2004 and 2006 and was temporarily unveiled in the summer of 2004. Nicknamed "The Bean" because of its legume-like shape, its exterior consists of 168 highly polished stainless steel plates. It is 33 feet by 66 feet by 42 feet (10 m × 20 m × 13 m), and weighs 110 short tons (99.8 t; 98.2 long tons). The sculpture and the plaza are sometimes referred to jointly as "Cloud Gate on the AT&T Plaza" or "Cloud Gate on AT&T Plaza".

Cloud Gate has become a very popular sculpture that is known worldwide. Inspired by liquid mercury, the sculpture's exterior reflects and transforms the city's skyline. Visitors are able to walk around and under Cloud Gate's arch, which is 12 feet (3.7 m) high. On the underside of the sculpture is the omphalos, a concave chamber that warps and multiplies reflections. The sculpture builds upon many of Kapoor's artistic themes, although many tourists simply view the sculpture and its unique reflective properties as a photo-taking opportunity.

The sculpture was the result of a design competition. After being chosen, numerous technological concerns regarding the design's construction and assembly arose, in addition to concerns regarding the sculpture's upkeep and maintenance. Various experts were consulted, some of whom believed the design could not be implemented. Eventually, a feasible method was found, but the sculpture fell behind schedule. It was unveiled in an incomplete form during the Millennium Park grand opening celebration before being concealed for completion.


[edit] Design

Map of Millennium Park

In 1999, Millennium Park officials and a group of art collectors, curators and architects reviewed sculpture proposals from 30 different artists. Jeff Koons submitted a proposal to erect a permanent 150-foot (46 m) playground slide at the park.[1][2] Koons' glass and steel design featured a 90-foot (27 m) observation deck that was accessible via an elevator.[3] The committee chose the design of internationally-acclaimed artist Anish Kapoor. Measuring 33 feet by 66 feet by 42 feet (10 m × 20 m × 13 m) and weighing 110 short tons (99.8 t; 98.2 long tons), Kapoor's propoal featured a seamless, stainless steel surface that was inspired by liquid mercury. This mirror-like surface literally reflects the Chicago skyline, however, its elliptical shape distorts and twists this reflected image.[4] As visitors walk around the structure, its surface acts like a "fun-house mirror" as it distorts their reflections.[5] On the underside of the sculpture is the omphalos, an indentation whose mirrored surface provides multiple reflections of any subject situated beneath it.[6] It is 27 feet (8.2 m) high and, as a part of the concave underside, it allows visitors to walk under and through its arch to the other side so that they view the entire structure.[7] During the grand opening week, several press reports described the omphalos as the "spoon-like underbelly".[8][9] Kapoor's contract states that the constructed piece should be expected to survive for 1,000 years.[10] The stainless steel sculpture was originally envisioned at the southeast corner of the Lurie Garden, but park officials eventually decided to locate it at AT&T Plaza. Now, skyscrapers to the north along East Randolph Street (The Heritage, Smurfit-Stone Building, Two Prudential Plaza, One Prudential Plaza, and Aon Center) are visible on both the east and west sides of the sculpture.

The structure's complex form created numerous issues. Being outside, concerns arose that it might retain and convey hot and cold temperatures in a way that would make it too hot to touch during the summer and so cold that one's tongue might stick to it during the winter. It was also believed that the extreme temperature variation between seasons might weaken the structure. Graffiti, bird droppings and fingerprints were also potential problems, as they would affect the aesthetics of the sculpture.[2][11] The most prominent issue was the need to create a single seamless exterior for the external shell, a feat architect Norman Foster once believed to be nearly impossible.[11]

While the sculpture was being constructed, public and media outlets nicknamed it "The Bean" because of its legume-like shape. Months later, Kapoor officially named the piece "Cloud Gate".[12] The name refers to the three-quarters of the sculpture's external surface that reflects the sky and acts as a type of gate that helps bridge the space between the sky and the viewer.[13] The sculpture and plaza are sometimes referred to jointly as "Cloud Gate on the AT&T Plaza".[14][15] It is Kapoor's first public outdoor work in the United States,[14] and is the work by which he may be best known in the country.[16]

[edit] Construction and maintenance

The first of two support rings are erected at AT&T Plaza.

The British engineering firm Aerotrope provided the sculpture's structural design,[17] and Performance Structures, Inc. (PSI) was chosen to fabricate it because of their ability to produce nearly invisible welds.[1] The project began with PSI attempting to recreate Kapoor's design in miniature. A high-density polyurethane foam model was selected by Kapoor, which was then used to design the final structure, including the interior structural components.[18] Initially, PSI planned to build and assemble the sculpture in Oakland, California, and ship it to Chicago through the Panama Canal and St. Lawrence Seaway. However, this plan was scrapped after park officials deemed it too risky.[1] Instead, the piece was assembled on-site by MTH Industries.[18]

The sculpture's weight raised concerns. Before fabrication, estimating the thickness of the steel needed to create the sculpture's desired aesthetics was difficult.[19] Originally, Cloud Gate was estimated to weigh 60 short tons (54.4 t; 53.6 long tons).[20] The final design, however, weighed 110 short tons (99.8 t; 98.2 long tons), almost double the first estimated figure. This extra weight required engineers to reconsider the sculpture's supporting structures. The roof of the Park Grill, upon which Cloud Gate sits, had to be built strong enough to bear the weight. The large retaining wall separating Chicago's Metra train tracks from the North Grant Park garage that travels along the back side of the restaurant supports much of the sculpture. This wall, along with the rest of the garage's foundation, required additional bracing before the piece was erected.[19] Cloud Gate is further buttressed by lateral members underneath the plaza that are anchored to the sculpture's interior structure by tie rods.[18]

Pre-buffing and tented views of Cloud Gate
The omphalos before its welds were polished
The omphalos before its welds were polished
A tent was erected to cover Cloud Gate while it was being polished in 2004 and 2005.
A tent was erected to cover Cloud Gate while it was being polished in 2004 and 2005.

Inside Cloud Gate's polished exterior shell are several steel structures that keep the sculpture standing. The first structural pieces, two type 304 stainless steel rings, were put into place in February 2004. As construction continued, crisscrossing pipe trusses were assembled between the two rings.[21] These supporting structural components were designed and constructed to ensure that no specific point was overloaded and to avoid producing unwanted indentations on the exterior shell. The frame was also designed to expand and contract with the sculpture as temperatures fluctuate. As a result, the two large rings supporting the sculpture move independently of one another, allowing the shell to move independently of the rings.[18]

When Cloud Gate's interior components were completed, construction crews prepared to begin working on the structure's outer shell. The shell comprises 168 stainless steel panels, each 3/8 inches (1.0 cm) thick and weighing 1,000 to 2,000 pounds (450 to 910 kg).[22] They were fabricated using three-dimensional modeling software. Metal stiffeners were welded to each panel's interior face to provide a small degree of rigidity. About a third of the plates, along with the entire interior structure, were fabricated in Oakland.[18] The plates were covered with protective white film and polished 98% before being sent to Chicago via trucks.[23] Once in Chicago, the plates were welded together on-site, creating 2,442 linear feet (744 m) of welded seams.[22] They were fabricated so precisely that no on-site cutting or filing was necessary when lifting and fitting the plates into position.[22]

In June 2004, when construction of the shell began, a large tent was erected around the piece to shield it from public view.[24] Construction began with the omphalos, where plates were attached to the supporting internal steel structure. These plates were attached from the inside (underside) of the sculpture downward to the outermost surfaces.[23] The sequence of construction caused the structure to look like a large sombrero when the bottom was complete.[25]

The sculpture was fully erected for the grand opening of Millennium Park on July 15, 2004, although it was unpolished and unfinished because its assembly had fallen behind schedule. The piece was temporarily uncovered on July 8 for the opening, though Kapoor was unhappy with this decision since it allowed the public to see the sculpture in an unfinished state.[26] Originally planned to be re-tented for polishing on July 24, public appreciation for the piece convinced park officials to leave it uncovered for several months. The tent was again erected in January 2005 while a 24-person crew from Ironworkers Local 63 polished the seams between each plate.[22][27] In order to grind, sand and polish the seams, six levels of scaffolding were erected around the sides of the sculpture, while climbing ropes and harnesses were used to polish harder-to-reach areas.[22] When the upper and side portions of the shell were completed, the tent was once again removed in August 2005. On October 3, the omphalos was closed off as workers polished the final section.[28] Every weld on the Cloud Gate underwent a five-stage process, required to produce the sculpture's famed mirror-like finish:[22]

Stage Name Equipment used Sandpaper type Purpose
1 Rough Cut 5-pound (2.3 kg), 4½-inch (110 mm) electric grinder 40-grit Removed welded steams
2 Initial Contour 15-pound (6.8 kg), 2-inch (51 mm), air-driven belt sander 80-grit, 100-grit and 120-grit Shaped the weld contours
3 Sculpting air-driven 10-pound (4.5 kg), 1-inch (25 mm) belt sander 80-grit, 120-grit, 240-grit and 400-grit Smoothed the weld contours
4 Refining double action sander 400-grit, 600-grit and 800-grit Removed the fine scratches that were left from the Sculpting stage
5 Polishing 10-inch (250 mm) electric buffing wheel 10 pounds (4.5 kg) of rouge Buffed and polished the surface to a mirror-like finish

The sculpture was finally completed on August 28, 2005, and officially unveiled on May 15, 2006.[29][30] The cost for the piece was first estimated at $6 million; this had escalated to $11.5 million by the time the park opened in 2004,[31] with the final figure standing at $23 million.[2] No public funds were involved, because all funding came from private individual and corporate donations.[2] The lower 6 feet (1.8 m) of Cloud Gate is wiped down twice a day by hand, while the entire sculpture is cleaned twice a year with 40 U.S. gallons (33 imp gal; 150 L) of liquid detergent. The daily cleanings use a Windex-like solution, while the semi-annual cleanings use Tide.[32]

[edit] Reception

Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley declared the day of the sculpture's dedication, May 15, 2006, to be "Cloud Gate Day". Kapoor attended the celebration, while Orbert Davis and the Chicago Jazz Philharmonic played the Davis-composed "Fanfare for Cloud Gate".[33] The public took an instant liking to the sculpture, affectionately referring to it as "The Bean".[34] Cloud Gate has become a popular piece of public art,[5][35] and is now a fixture on many souvenirs such as postcards, sweatshirts and posters.[36] It has had tremendous drawing power, attracting locals, tourists and art aficionados alike.[37] The sculpture is the piece by which Kapoor is most identified.[38]

"What I wanted to do in Millennium Park is make something that would engage the Chicago skyline… so that one will see the clouds kind of floating in, with those very tall buildings reflected in the work. And then, since it is in the form of a gate, the participant, the viewer, will be able to enter into this very deep chamber that does, in a way, the same thing to one's reflection as the exterior of the piece is doing to the reflection of the city around."

Time describes the piece as an essential photo opportunity and more of a destination than a work of art,[5] and the The New York Times describes it as a "tourist magnet" and an "extraordinary art object".[39][37] USA Today calls the sculpture a monumental abstract work.[40] Chicago art critic Edward Lifson considers Cloud Gate to be among the greatest pieces of public art in the world.[33] The American Welding Society recognized Cloud Gate, MTH Industries and PSI by awarding them with the group's Extraordinary Welding Award.[41] As one of Millennium Park's major attractions, Cloud Gate helped the park to be named one the ten best architectural achievements of 2004 by Time.[42] The sculpture has been used as a backdrop in commercial films, notably in the recent Hollywood film The Break-Up, which had to reshoot several scenes because the sculpture was under cover for the initial filming.[43]

In 2005, the sculpture attracted some controversy when a professional photographer without a paid permit was denied access to the piece.[44][45] As is the case for all works of art currently covered by United States copyright law, the artist holds the copyright for the sculpture. This allows the public to freely photograph Cloud Gate, but the direct permission of Kapoor is required for any commercial reproductions of the photographs. The city first set a policy of collecting permit fees for photographs. These permits were initially set at $350 per day for professional still photographers, $1,200 per day for professional videographers and $50 per hour for wedding photographers. The policy has been changed so permits are only required for "large-scale" film, video and photography requiring ten-man crews and equipment.[46]

In 2005 and 2006, almost all of Millennium Park was closed for a day for corporate events. On both occasions, as one of the park's primary attractions, Cloud Gate was the focus of controversy. On September 8, 2005, Toyota Motor Sales USA paid $800,000 to rent most venues in the park including Cloud Gate on AT&T Plaza from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.[47][48] On August 7, 2006, Allstate paid $700,000 to rent the park. For this price, Allstate acquired the visitation rights to a different set of features and only had exclusive access to Cloud Gate after 4 p.m.[49] These corporate closures disallowed tourists access to Kapoor's public sculpture, and commuters who walk through the park were forced to take alternate routes.[47]

[edit] Artistic themes

[edit] Relevant Kapoor themes

Anish Kapoor has a reputation for producing work in urban settings of such magnitude of size and scale that it creates spectacles.[16] Prior to creating Cloud Gate, Kapoor had created art that distorted images of the viewer instead of portraying images of its own. In so doing, he acquired experience blurring the boundary between the limit and the limitless.[50] Sky Mirror (2001), a 20-foot (6.1 m) 10-short-ton (9.1 t; 8.9-long-ton) concave stainless steel mirror that attempted to use such a theme of distorted perception on a grand scale, was one of the experiences that Kapoor incorporated in the design of Cloud Gate.[50]

Kapoor's objects often aim at evoking immateriality and the spiritual, an outcome he achieves either by carving dark voids into stone pieces, or more recently, through the sheer shine and reflectivity of his objects.[34] He explores the theme of ambiguity with his work that places the viewer in a state of "in-betweenness".[51] The artist often questions and plays with such dualities as solidity–emptiness or reality–reflection, which in turn allude to such paired opposites as flesh–spirit, the here – the beyond, east–west, sky–earth, etc. that create the conflict between internal and external, superficial and subterranean, and conscious and unconscious.[52] Kapoor also creates a tension between masculine and feminine within his art by having concave points of focus that invite the entry of visitors and multiplies their images when they are positioned correctly.[52][53]

[edit] Cloud Gate themes

"I hope what I have done is make a serious work, which deals with serious questions about form, public space and an object in space. You can capture the popular imagination and hold other points of interest, but that is not what I set out to do, although there is inevitably a certain spectacular in an object like this."

Kapoor often speaks of removing both the signature of the artist from his works as well as any traces of their fabrication.[34] For him, removing all the seams from Cloud Gate was necessary in order to make the sculpture seem as though it was "perfect" and ready-made. These effects increase the viewer's fascination with it and makes them wonder what it is and where it came from.[35] His attempts to hide his works' seams as an artist stand in contrast to Frank Gehry's efforts as an architect in the park. The two Gehry-designed structures, Jay Pritzker Pavilion and BP Pedestrian Bridge, display their seams prominently.[12]

Cloud Gate is similar to many of Kapoor's previous works with respect to the themes and issues it addresses. While the sculpture's mirror effects are reminiscent of fun-house fairground mirrors, they also have a more serious intent: they help de-materialize this very large object, making it seem light and almost weightless.[5][54] Kapoor attempts to challenge his viewers to internalize his work through intellectual and theoretical exercise. By reflecting the sky, visiting and non-visiting pedestrians and surrounding architecture, Cloud Gate limits its viewers to partial comprehension at any time. The interaction with the viewer who moves to create his own vision gives it a spiritual dimension.[51] The sculpture is described as a disembodied, luminous form,[51] which is how his earlier 1000 Names (1979–80) was described when it addressed the metaphysical and mystical.[52]

[edit] Notes

  1. ^ a b c Schulze, Franz. "Sunday afternoon in the Cyber-Age Park: the city's new greensward features Frank Gehny's latest, plus "interactive" sculptural works by Jaume Plensa and Anish Kapoor". Art in America. Retrieved on 2008-05-31. 
  2. ^ a b c d Ahmed-Ullah, Noreen S. (2006-05-16). "Bean's gleam has creator beaming - Artist Anish Kapoor admits being surprised by aspects of ` Cloud Gate ' at Monday's dedication ceremony in Millennium Park". Chicago Tribune. Newsbank. Retrieved on 2008-07-17. 
  3. ^ Artner, Alan G. (2004-04-25). "Arts & Entertainment". Chicago Tribune. Newsbank. Retrieved on 2008-09-19. 
  4. ^ Daniel, Caroline and Jeremy Grant (2005-09-10). "Classical city soars above Capone clichés". The Financial Times. The Financial Times Ltd. Retrieved on 2008-07-31.  (registration required for entire article)
  5. ^ a b c d Lacayo, Richard (2008-06-05). "Anish Kapoor: Past, Present, Future". Time. Time Inc..,9171,1812056,00.html. Retrieved on 2008-07-06. 
  6. ^ Gilfoyle, p. 203
  7. ^ Gilfoyle, p. 261
  8. ^ "News". Journal Gazette (Mattoon, IL). Newsbank. 2004-07-17. Retrieved on 2008-08-05. 
  9. ^ "Bean, fountain highlight park opening". The Southern Illinoisan. Newsbank. 2004-07-17. Retrieved on 2008-08-05. 
  10. ^ a b Daniel, Caroline (2004-07-20). "How a steel bean gave Chicago fresh pride". The Financial Times. The Financial Times Ltd. Retrieved on 2008-08-07.  (registration required for entire article)
  11. ^ a b Gilfoyle, p. 202.
  12. ^ a b Bernstein, Fred A. (2004-07-18). "Art/Architecture; Big Shoulders, Big Donors, Big Art". The New York Times. The New York Times Company. Retrieved on 2008-06-01. 
  13. ^ Gilfoyle, pp. 263–4
  14. ^ a b c "Cloud Gate on the AT&T Plaza". Millennium Park. Retrieved on 2008-05-31. 
  15. ^ Pate, Josh (2008-07-09). "Travel Log: Chicagoland: Big city, suburbs no stranger to greenspace for visitors". NASCAR. Retrieved on 2008-10-27. 
  16. ^ a b Budick, Ariella (2008-06-14). "Innies and outies". The Financial Times. The Financial Times Ltd. Retrieved on 2008-07-31. 
  17. ^ Matt Grey. "aerotrope". Aerotrope. Retrieved on 2009-03-17. 
  18. ^ a b c d e Steele, Jeffrety. "Special Project - Chicago's Millennium Park Project". McGraw-Hill Construction. Retrieved on 2008-05-31. 
  19. ^ a b Gilfoyle, p. 165.
  20. ^ Gilfoyle, p. 402.
  21. ^ "Making Metal Gleam". USGlass 42 (4). April 2007. Retrieved on 2008-06-02. 
  22. ^ a b c d e f Nunn, Emily (2005-08-24). "Making it shine". Chicago Tribune.,0,1725342.story. Retrieved on 2008-06-03. 
  23. ^ a b Gilfoyle, p. 204.
  24. ^ Becker, Lynn. "A photo essay on the making of Anish Kapoor's Cloud Gate sculpture in Chicago's Millennium Park". Repeat. Retrieved on 2008-05-31. 
  25. ^ Gilfoyle, p. 206.
  26. ^ "Cloud Gate". Chicago Architecture Info. Retrieved on 2008-06-01. 
  27. ^ "A place to reflect in Chicago". Los Angeles Times. 2005-01-02.,0,2354484.story. Retrieved on 2008-06-01. 
  28. ^ Ryan, Karen (2005-08-18). "Cloud Gate Sculpture in Millennium Park to be Completely Untented by Sunday, August 28" (PDF). Millennium Park. Retrieved on 2008-06-01. 
  29. ^ Yates, Jon (2004-07-15). "Chicago finds 7bean' meets taste test". Chicago Tribune.,0,1725342.story. Retrieved on 2008-06-29. 
  30. ^ "The Bean Unveiled". Chicago Tonight. 2006-05-15.
  31. ^ Ford, Liam (2004-07-11). "City to finally open its new front yard - Millennium Park's price tag tripled". Chicago Tribune. Newsbank. Retrieved on 2008-07-17. 
  32. ^ Bange, Jackie (2005-08-18). "Clean the Bean". WGN-TV.,0,4457515.story. Retrieved on 2008-06-01. 
  33. ^ a b Lifson, Edward (2006-06-15). "Cloud Gate Day". Chicago Public Radio. Retrieved on 2008-05-02. 
  34. ^ a b c Kennedy, Randy (2006-08-20). "A Most Public Artist Polishes a New York Image". The New York Times. The New York Times Company. Retrieved on 2008-06-02. 
  35. ^ a b Smith, Roberta (2008-05-30). "Sculptor as Magician". The New York Times. The New York Times Company. Retrieved on 2008-06-03. 
  36. ^ King, John (2006-07-30). "Chicago's architectural razzmatazz: New or old, skyscrapers reflect city's brash and playful character". San Francisco Chronicle. Hearst Communications Inc.. Retrieved on 2008-07-31. 
  37. ^ a b Kennedy, Randy (2008-05-25). "The Week Ahead: May 25-31". The New York Times. The New York Times Company. Retrieved on 2008-06-02. 
  38. ^ Lacayo, Richard (2007-02-27). "Thinking Way Out of the Box". Time. Time Inc..,9171,1594123,00.html. Retrieved on 2008-07-07. 
  39. ^ Kinzer, Stephen (2004-07-13). "Letter From Chicago; A Prized Project, a Mayor and Persistent Criticism". The New York Times. The New York Times Company. Retrieved on 2008-07-30. 
  40. ^ "What have artists wrought from 9/11?". USA Today. 2004-09-03. Retrieved on 2008-07-31. 
  41. ^ "AWS Honors MTH and Others for Work on Cloud Gate Project". USGlass Magazine. Key Communications, Inc./The USGlass News Network. Retrieved on 2008-06-02. 
  42. ^ Lacayo, Richard (2004). "The Best Architecture". Time. Time Inc.. Retrieved on 2008-06-03. 
  43. ^ Zwecker, Bill (2006-03-30). "Vaughn, Aniston frolic under Cloud cover". Chicago Sun-Times. Newsbank. Retrieved on 2008-07-31. 
  44. ^ Joravsky, Ben (2005-01-28). "The Bean Police". Chicago Reader. Chicago Reader Inc.. Retrieved on 2008-08-22. 
  45. ^ Kleiman, Kelly (2005-03-30). "Who owns public art?". The Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved on 2007-05-02. 
  46. ^ Storch, Charles (2005-05-27). "Millennium Park loosens its photo rules". Chicago Tribune. Newsbank. Retrieved on 2008-07-27. 
  47. ^ a b Ahmed-Ullah, Noreen S. (2005-09-09). "No Walk In The Park - Toyota VIPs receive Millennium Park 's red-carpet treatment; everyone else told to just keep on going". Chicago Tribune. Newsbank. Retrieved on 2008-07-26. 
  48. ^ Dardick, Hal (2005-05-06). "This Sept. 8, No Bean For You - Unless you're a Toyota dealer. In that case, feel free to frolic because the carmaker paid $800,000 to own the park for the day". Chicago Tribune. Newsbank. Retrieved on 2008-07-26. 
  49. ^ Herrmann, Andrew (2006-05-04). "Allstate pays $200,000 to book Millennium Park for one day". Chicago Sun-Times. Newsbank. Retrieved on 2008-07-26. 
  50. ^ a b Gilfoyle, p. 267.
  51. ^ a b c Gilfoyle, p. 264.
  52. ^ a b c Gilfoyle, p. 265.
  53. ^ Gilfoyle, pp. 271–2.
  54. ^ Roston, Eric (2004-10-11). "Windy City Redux". Time. Time Inc..,9171,995369,00.html. Retrieved on 2008-06-03. 

[edit] References

  • Gilfoyle, Timothy J.. Millennium Park: Creating a Chicago Landmark. University of Chicago Press. 

[edit] External links

Coordinates: 41°52′57.67″N 87°37′23.97″W / 41.8826861°N 87.623325°W / 41.8826861; -87.623325

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