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Public Art

Public Art for Westbank, like so much of the work that we do, is at once a project in itself and a part of a larger idea that has woven its way through our practice over time. That idea is that our practice and all of our projects represents the physical embodiment of culture.

World renowned artist, Douglas Coupland is adding a work of global significance to Calgary's vibrant public art scape. Northern Lights, a 160,000 square foot LED-based art installation will become the biggest public art piece in Calgary.

Combined, our public art commissions form a body of work that is quickly becoming one of the broadest and among the most important collections by any developer in the world. To date, we have 30 installations either completed or under development, by some of the world’s most accomplished artists.

Since we began our public art program, we have worked with internationally renowned artists on projects whose scope, size and ambition have redefined conceptions of art in the public realm. Diana Thater’s Light Art mirrored the colors of nature in a stunning display spanning the height of the Shaw Tower. Liam Gillick’s text installation made a provocative statement across the Fairmont Pacific Rim. Zhang Huan’s Rising created an unforgettable sculptural moment at the Shangri-La Toronto. One of our most recently completed pieces, Martin Boyce’s Lantern installation, Beyond the Sea, Against the Sun, now illuminates the laneway at Telus Garden and we are currently working on one of our most ambitious projects, Rodney Graham’s Spinning Chandelier.

Westbank’s commitment to public art is consistent with the many other cultural initiatives that make up our practice. Initiatives like our piano program, the Serpentine Pavilion, our fashion collection, our music business, the cultural hubs at Blood Alley and Oakridge, our many exhibitions, our support of community programs and our commitment to design excellence, set Westbank apart. At TELUS Sky, we are thrilled with the results of our collaboration with author/artist Doug Coupland to create Northern Lights. Nothing less than a landmark art piece, this work will add a further layer to a project that on completion will be a game changer for Calgary.

 

Northern Lights, 2017

In this short film by Lukas Dong, visual artist and author Douglas Coupland reflects on the inspiration and thought behind his latest public art piece - integrated into the facade of the TELUS Sky building in Calgary.

 

The north and south façades of the tower, will showcase the compelling installation, programmed by Coupland with full-colour motion sequences. Made up of 600 custom bulbs, the integrated LED lighting wraps around the building's window frames to create pixels, that together form an infinite number of patterns and colour displays. TELUS Sky's design is simultaneously symmetrical and curvilinear. Its twisting and mineralogical façade provided the perfect canvas to channel such a dynamic symbol of nature as the Northern Lights.

Coupland is creating a free downloadable app that will share details of how Northern Lights works. Over time, the app will reveal new interactions and versions to enable smartphone and tablet users to hold devices up to TELUS Sky's facade to see and read colour-specific messages that are otherwise concealed. These messages could be simple data like the date, time and weather, but could also become larger and quite elaborate as the technology allows for ingenuity.

“For me, it was a chance to create something very analog on a system that is very digital. Like the building itself, there is an inherent contradiction, in that technology can be both a form of art as well as a tool for its creation.”

Doug Coupland, Artist
 

Douglas Coupland

Coupland is known for public art installations across Canada, including Vancouver's 'Digital Orca', and Toronto's 'Four Seasons'. Since 1991 Coupland has written thirteen novels published in most languages.

He has written and performed for England's Royal Shakespeare Company and is a columnist for The Financial Times of London. He is a frequent contributor to The New York Times, e-flux, DIS and Vice. In 2000 Coupland amplified his visual art production and has recently had two separate museum retrospectives, Everything is Anything is Anywhere is Everywhere at the Vancouver Art Gallery (2014), The Royal Ontario Museum and the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art (2015), and Bit Rot at the Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art in Rotterdam, and Villa Stücke in Munich (2016).

In 2015 and 2016 Coupland was artist in residence in the Paris Google Cultural Institute. Coupland is a member of the Royal Canadian Academy, an Officer of the Order of Canada, an Officer of the Order of British Columbia, a Chevlier de l'Order des Arts et des Lettres and receiver of the Lieutenant Governor's Award for Literary Excellence.

Fight For Beauty

Westbank has evolved into a cultural practice and this exhibition offers a glimpse into a new and interesting part of our world. 'Fight For Beauty' is yet another way we are attempting to express our evolution and share our journey, while describing the enormous effort we continue to pour into our ongoing fight for beauty.