Vague Terrain 21: Electric Speed Art Exhibition, Surrey, BC


Electric speed is curated by Kate Armstrong and Malcolm Levy for Revised Projects and the New Forms Media Society.

Our interest in working with the form of the urban screen for Electric Speed relates in one part to the catalyst of the McLuhan in Europe 2011 initiative1 in which artists and curators have taken the centennial year of media theorist Marshall McLuhan’s birth as an opportunity to consider the transformative impacts of his ideas specifically in the context of media art. The other component that spurred the development of this exhibition was an interest in partnering with the Surrey Art Gallery to present work specifically geared to the unique context of the Surrey Urban Screen, as it is the largest urban screen in Canada and the only one that is devoted to the presentation of art.2

The variegated ways of approaching speed as a subject, mode, effect or relation that we see in these artists’ projects provide entry points for considering the impact of Marshall McLuhan’s thinking on the subject of accelerated culture. Most importantly, though, Electric Speed presents new works from a group of Canadian artists whose tactics and practices exist within and respond to the state of global media culture. Electric Speed will be exhibited at the Surrey Art Gallery from December 2, 2011 through March 31, 2012, before travelling to other urban screen venues internationally. With this exhibition, we’ve tried to investigate these themes as well as enable the production of vibrant work that responds to the pervasive, variable form of the urban screen, itself an important defining feature of the series.

If urban screens are defined as the “various kinds of dynamic digital displays and interfaces in urban space such as LED signs, plasma screens, projection boards, information terminals but also intelligent architectural surfaces”3, it becomes immediately clear how deeply they have infiltrated the urban environment, and it must be noted that the commercial aspects of this ubiquitous form are fundamental to their existence.

The urban screen as a form typically fluctuates, a bit uneasily, between two poles: Not purely commercial and rarely purely cultural, a common tactic of the urban screen is to deliver culture in interstitial spaces or timeslots, for example showing video or media art in the last minute of each hour or working with public transit authorities to show animation or experimental video on the television screens in trains or subways. Read the rest at .

Kate Armstrong & Malcolm Levy, Vancouver, January 2012


1. A primarily European project initiated by Stephen Kovats and Michelle Kasprzak to create “a conversation that spans art, communications, and technology.”

2. Architecturally the Surrey Urban Screen is in fact more of a façade than a screen, as it possesses a unique exterior with a set of illuminated, irregular windows that challenge it as a traditional projection surface.

3. Mirjam Struppek is the founder of the International Urban Screens Association,

Surrey Art Gallery

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