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SFU artists and researchers showcase art installation on Surrey’s ‘UrbanScreen’

March 18, 2022
Installation view of Body as Border: Traces and Flows of Connection at UrbanScreen in 2022 by pr0phecy sun, Freya Zinovieff, Gabriela Aceves-Sepúlveda, and Steve DiPaola. Photo by Brian Giebelhaus.

A group of SFU researchers and students from the School of Interactive Arts and Technology (SIAT) are showcasing their latest artwork in a big way over the next few months—by lighting up a 30-metre exterior wall near downtown Surrey known as UrbanScreen.

Their audio-visual art project, entitled Body as Border: Traces and Flows of Connection, is an immersive, large-scale art installation—a mix of poetry, painting and sound—created partially in conjunction with state-of-the-art AI machine learning systems.

The creative combination flows from wide array of sources, including images of bacterial cultures, documentation of the Fraser River, and fragments of poetry, to produce a series of landscapes that highlight the interplay between computation and biology.

According to the artists, the resulting images and sounds of Body as Border: Trace and Flow “chart humanity’s impact upon the environment, as well as our own porous relationship with both artificial and natural entities.” The audio-visual artwork will appear on UrbanScreen after dark from now until May 1.

It’s the latest—and final—art installation at the Surrey venue, located on the west wall of Chuck Bailey Recreation Centre. Since being installed in 2010 during the cultural Olympiad, UrbanScreen has been Canada’s largest permanent outdoor venue for new media art.

Over the past several years, UrbanScreen has featured several larger-than-life, after-dark art installations—with its first feature exhibition also by SFU’s SIAT team. The installation of movement-activated speakers and a dedicated shortwave FM channel to the venue in 2015 opened up many creative processes to artists—including the current installation.

“The sonic and visual elements of the piece inform each other in a feedback loop throughout the process of creation,” says Freya Zinovieff, an SIAT PhD candidate and researcher who worked on the installation with Steve Dipaola, pr0phecy sun and Gabriela Aceves-Sepulveda, all artists and academic researchers in SIAT’s Critical Media Art Studio (cMAS) and iVizLab.

“The sonic aspect of the piece is streamed on FM radio, opening up new avenues for exploration between the artists. The FM radio feature has allowed for a deeper immersive engagement with the community, as viewers travel past in their cars, on foot and on the SkyTrain on their journeys elsewhere.”

Freya Zinovieff, SIAT PhD candidate and researcher & prOphecy sun, SIAT PhD alumnus, researcher and sessional faculty at Emily Carr University of Art + Design.

An in-person panel discussion with the artists and a venue-closing celebration will be held on March 19. Following the exhibition, the Chuck Bailey Recreation Centre—including the UrbanScreen—is slated to be decommissioned as part of a City of Surrey’s redevelopment project.

Read more about Body as Border: Trace and Flow of Connection here.

More information about the panel discussion with the artist and closing celebration here.