By Kevin Leung

The fantastic thing about public art is that it can engage its audiences in ways that can’t always be achieved in a gallery. Whether it’s encouraging visitors to touch, hang off of, push, listen to, or activate with a phone, the Lower Mainland is full of pieces that can take a more immersive approach.

These five pieces show how with the support of a present audience, surprising experiences can be revealed.

Vanessa Kwan and Theater Replacement, Speaker A 

Photo credit: Rachel Topham Photography

Just outside the lines of Main Street traffic, a story is being told that only continues when a person is present. Using sound to engage with its audience, this work draws on hundreds of stories exploring restlessness and loss in the city. Stand beneath the sensor on-site, and a speaker will activate to share the experience with you. *This piece is active between the hours of 7 am and 7 pm. 

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Location: Second & Main Breezeway (180 East 2nd ave), Vancouver 

Cheryl Hamilton and Michael Vandermeer, Corvus

New to the public art scene on Vancouver’s North Shore, this interactive sculpture features 12 black aluminum ravens in various flight positions. Move closer, and you’ll find a disc crank at the base. When turned, the ravens follow around the crown giving the illusion of a single bird in flight. 

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Location: Rey Sargent Park (2151 Lonsdale Avenue), North Vancouver

Maurice Van Der Beke, Mandala After Prayer Wheel

Located in the lobby of the Surrey Arts Center, this interactive sculpture was inspired by traditional Buddhist prayer. Cut from pounded sheet copper, spinning this large wheel is intended to create a stir of emotions in the viewer. In the name of simplicity, take a moment to spin the wheel and notice what feelings come over you.

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Location: Surrey Arts Center, 13750 88 Ave, Surrey

Carlos Basanta, Oval Reflections

Avocado or egg? Or Egg avocado? This sculpture’s organic shape brings a sense of fun into the campus space. Split into two halves; it invites the observer to enter. Take a moment to stand between the two halves, and you might find a satisfying sense of coziness.

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Location: SFU campus, Burnaby 

Jem Noble, Domestic Cosmology

You might have noticed recently that various transit shelters throughout the city now offer the chance to connect with them using your phone. Posters depicting a distorted yet functional QR code will connect you to a video and music composition that the artist created from his revelation of perspective on the cosmic continuum. 

More info:

Location: On transit shelters across Vancouver 

Speaker A: Take the #3 bus on Main and exit at East 2nd Ave
Corvus: Take the Seabus to Lonsdale Quay, transfer to the #230 Upper Lonsdale bus, and exit at E 21 St
Mandala After Prayer Wheel: From Surrey Central Station, take the R1 Newton Exchange bus to 88th AVe
Oval Reflections: Take the R5 Rapid Bus on Hastings right up to Burnaby Mountain
Domestic Cosmology: Various transit shelters across the city, keep your eyes peeled!

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