In 2017, people take in Marianne Nicolson’s “The Way In Which It Was Given to Us” at Surrey Art Gallery’s UrbanScreen. (submitted photo: Brian Giebelhaus)

DIGITAL ART

New ‘Art After Dark’ book showcases Surrey UrbanScreen’s first decade

Facility in Whalley is Canada’s largest permanent outdoor venue for new media art

A new book marking the 10th anniversary of Surrey Art Gallery’s UrbanScreen is available for free as a PDF on the city’s website, or $35 as a hard-copy edition.

The book, dubbed Art After Dark: 10 Years of UrbanScreen, was launched on Saturday (Jan. 25) at the opening reception for the gallery’s winter exhibits.

Among them, at UrbanScreen, is a new interactive outdoor work called “We are the Clouds,” the latest digital-art showcase located on the west wall of Chuck Bailey Recreation Centre.

CLICK HERE to read and download the book as PDF.

The book “presents a survey of what has become one of Canada’s leading venues for the outdoor display of projected new media art,” according to an advisory. “It features images and essays by scholars, artists, critics, curators, and poets on every exhibition presented at the UrbanScreen over the past decade.”

Physical copies of the work are available to order from Surrey Art Gallery, and the PDF is available to read and download at surrey.ca.

• RELATED STORY: Get your head in the clouds at Surrey’s UrbanScreen.

Launched in 2010, UrbanScreen is considered Canada’s largest permanent outdoor venue for new media art, as Robin Laurence notes in the book.

Work to create UrbanScreen began in 2009 among artists involved in the gallery’s TechLab, which at the time was a decade-old hub for digital art.

As part of work to create a database of digital photographs, artists Sylvia Grace Borda, M. Simon Levin, Dennis Rosenfeld and Jer Thorp speculated that their photographic artwork should no longer have to conform to the conventional rectangle of paper or a screen. “As they built relational structures to organize and present the metatag-connected database, they instead imagined, with the increasing power of data projectors, a largescale, architectonic, and interactive experience of their artwork,” according to a city release about the new book.

Gallery officials then collaborated with the city’s Public Art Program to establish UrbanScreen as a permanent venue, which premiered as part of the Vancouver 2010 Cultural Olympiad and continues to showcase digital art in a series of exhibits.

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With “We are the Clouds” at UrbanScreen, the Estonia-based artist duo known as Varvara & Mar aims to delight viewers with what they call a playful twist on the self-portrait: the cloud portrait.

Using a Microsoft Kinect camera and software designed for the project, “We Are the Clouds” captures images of people and re-interprets them into the form of clouds.

“Visitors can perform live in front of an onsite kiosk and have their ‘cloud persona’ appear immediately onscreen, projected onto a brilliant blue sky across the side of the recreation centre,” explains an event advisory. “Capturing only the silhouette of a given participant, the technology allows all prospective cloud-makers to contribute to the formation of an ephemeral cloud community, which will appear on the screen.”

From Jan. 30 to April 26, the cloud-y showcase of silhouettes will be visible nightly starting 30 minutes after sunset, until midnight. The public screen can be viewed from the rec centre parking lot, at 13458 107A Ave., and also from Skytrain cars that travel past.

• RELATED STORY: Late artist Li-Leger would be ‘thrilled’ to see exhibit of his work at Surrey gallery.

In addition to “We Are the Clouds,” Surrey Art Gallery’s exhibits this winter include “Susan Point: Spindle Whorl, a display of silkscreen prints from the Vancouver Art Gallery, and “Don Li-Leger: Counting the Steps of the Sun,” featuring works from the late artist.

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