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Surrey’s UrbanScreen Wins National New Media Award

Christophe Thollet testing video interactivity with prototype of sensor camera live interface during Surrey Art Gallery’s UrbanScreen installation of Rencontres Imaginaires (2016) by Scenocosme.

April 10, 2017

On April 7, 2017, Surrey Art Gallery received an Award of Outstanding Achievement in the New Media category for its UrbanScreen programming at the Canadian Museums Association (CMA) 2017 National Conference in Ottawa.

The CMA annually honours museums in Canada that demonstrate excellence in the areas of new media, conservation, education, exhibitions, marketing and research. The new media category recognizes innovation in accessibility, engagement and participation through virtual publications, virtual exhibitions, online educational resources, social media initiatives and other technologies.

“We are excited about Surrey Art Gallery’s Award of Outstanding Achievement in the New Media category,” said John G. McAvity, CMA executive director and CEO. “UrbanScreen showcases an innovative way of reaching out and expanding the gallery's role within the community, a new way to engage its audience. Congratulations on this nationally significant project.”

Conceived by artists during a residency in the Surrey Art Gallery’s TechLab and built by the City, UrbanScreen uses high-powered data projectors to illuminate the west wall of the Chuck Bailey Recreation Centre 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, which begin 30 minutes after sunset and end at midnight, can be viewed from street level and the SkyTrain between Gateway and Surrey Central stations.

"We are honoured to receive this national award recognizing an integral part of the City of Surrey’s cultural corridor,” said City of Surrey Mayor Linder Hepner. “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 important opportunities for emerging through to established internationally recognized artists," said Surrey Art Gallery Association President Jannette Maedel. "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."

The 2016 UrbanScreen programming included youth screenings, a partnership initiative with youth and mentoring artists, and two major exhibitions. From February to May, UrbanScreen featured 1UP, a digital mural by Ligwilda’xw/Kwakwaka’wakw artist Sonny Assu. Through graffiti elements merging 80s and 90s retro gaming iconography with Northwest Coast formline art and video, 1UP highlighted the histories of Indigenous people in Canada.

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 augmented reality artwork enabled participants to engage with the artwork and each other regardless of background, age or prior experience with new media. The exhibition, which continues until May 7, is currently being featured as part of the Capture Photography Festival.

About UrbanScreen

A legacy of the Vancouver 2010 Cultural Olympiad project CODE, UrbanScreen has presented curated exhibitions by Canadian and international artists, along with community screenings by young and emerging artists since 2010. Artists are encouraged to create work using newly developed technology inspired by the capacity and context of the venue. UrbanScreen was made possible by the City of Surrey Public Art Program, with support from the Surrey Art Gallery Association; the BC Arts Council Unique Opportunities Program; and the Canada Cultural Spaces Fund of the Department of Canadian Heritage, which also helped fund an equipment renewal in 2015. Surrey Art Gallery gratefully acknowledges funding support from the Canada Council for the Arts and the Province of BC through the BC Arts Council for its ongoing programming.



For more information contact:

Liane Davison
Manager, Visual and Community Arts and Director, Surrey Art Gallery
(604) 501-5197