A view of artist Sonny Assu’s recent work at Surrey’s UrbanScreen, located on the west wall of the Chuck Bailey Recreation Centre. (submitted photo)

Surrey’s UrbanScreen wins award for innovation from Canadian Museums Association

Digital-art screen was unveiled in 2010 at Chuck Bailey rec centre

SURREY — Programmers of Surrey’s UrbanScreen have received an award for outstanding achievement from the Canadian Museums Association (CMA).

The award, in the New Media category, was announced on April 7 at the association’s 2017 national conference, which was held in Ottawa.

The CMA’s new media award category recognizes “innovation in accessibility, engagement and participation through virtual publications, virtual exhibitions, online educational resources, social media initiatives and other technologies.”

Surrey’s UrbanScreen was unveiled in 2010 on the west wall of Chuck Bailey Recreation Centre, located at 13458 107A Ave.

“UrbanScreen showcases an innovative way of reaching out and expanding the gallery’s role within the community, a new way to engage its audience,” stated John G. McAvity, the association’s executive director and CEO. “Congratulations on this nationally significant project.”

The digital-art screen was conceived by artists during a residency in Surrey Art Gallery’s TechLab. UrbanScreen uses high-powered data projectors to illuminate the rec centre’s wall with imagery generated by computers and other technologies, which have included a virtual piano, SkyTrain and tidal level readers, gaming engines and unmanned aerial video copters.

Projected imagery can reach nine metres high and 30 metres wide, making UrbanScreen the largest permanent art-dedicated outdoor projection venue in Canada.

Exhibitions begin 30 minutes after sunset and end at midnight, and can be viewed from street level and SkyTrain cars, between Gateway and Surrey Central stations.

Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner said the city is honoured to receive the national award.

She stated: “It is an acknowledgement of the longstanding work of Surrey Art Gallery, and the City’s Public Art Advisory Committee and Cultural Development Advisory Committee, to create innovative and meaningful opportunities for artists and audiences, while demonstrating how art accessible by the public can connect citizens and create vibrant communities.”

UrbanScreen provides opportunities for both emerging and established artists, according to Jannette Maedel, president of Surrey Art Gallery Association.

“Since 2010, Surrey Art Gallery has been able to support visionary artists and offer vital opportunities for the community to come together to explore and express ideas about the world they live in through contemporary, digital and interactive art experiences,” Maedel stated.

In September, UrbanScreen was transformed into a digital playground with “Rencontres Imaginaires,” by French artist team Scenocosme. Using a “digital kiosk,” passersby could project themselves onto the digital screen to interact with virtual characters through hand and body gestures. The exhibition, which continues until May 7, is currently being featured as part of the Capture Photography Festival.

On the web, details about current and past exhibitions on Surrey’s UrbanScreen can be found at Surrey.ca/culture-recreation/7315.aspx.

tom.zillich@thenownewspaper.com