Image showing Varvara & Mar’s “We Are the Clouds” exhibit, new to Surrey’s UrbanScreen. (submitted photo: Surrey Art Gallery)

Image showing Varvara & Mar’s “We Are the Clouds” exhibit, new to Surrey’s UrbanScreen. (submitted photo: Surrey Art Gallery)

DIGITAL ART

Get your head in the clouds at Surrey’s UrbanScreen

Interactive art project captures images of people and re-interprets them into the form of clouds

Ever wanted to float among the clouds? Now’s your chance, as part of an art project happening in Surrey over the next four months.

A new interactive outdoor work called “We are the Clouds” is in the forecast at UrbanScreen, the digital-art showcase located on the west wall of Chuck Bailey Recreation Centre.

Starting this week the Estonia-based artist duo known as Varvara & Mar, formed by Varvara Guljajeva and Mar Canet in 2009, will aim to delight viewers with what they call a playful twist on the self-portrait: the cloud portrait.

Using a Microsoft Kinect camera and software designed for the project, “We Are the Clouds” captures images of people and re-interprets them into the form of clouds.

“Visitors can perform live in front of an onsite kiosk and have their ‘cloud persona’ appear immediately onscreen, projected onto a brilliant blue sky across the side of the recreation centre,” explains an event advisory. “Capturing only the silhouette of a given participant, the technology allows all prospective cloud-makers to contribute to the formation of an ephemeral cloud community, which will appear on the screen.”

A preview-night event is planned for Thursday (Jan. 23) starting at 8 p.m.

(story continues below video showing UrbanScreen)

Leading up to this week’s opening, people were invited to attend production workshops with the artists, where their on-camera performances were recorded to create the initial body of imagery.

“’We Are the Clouds’ is a lot of fun, but it is also a subtle commentary on the relationship between play-making and community-building,” said Rhys Edwards, assistant curator at Surrey Art Gallery, which operates UrbanScreen as a satellite venue. “Every participant’s movement becomes part of a larger choreography, where people’s gestures play off of each other to create a space of generosity, leisure and calm.”

From Jan. 30 to April 26, the cloud-y showcase of silhouettes will be visible nightly starting 30 minutes after sunset, until midnight. The public screen can be viewed from the rec centre parking lot, at 13458 107A Ave., and also from Skytrain cars that travel past.

• RELATED STORY: Point’s ‘Spindle Whorl’ featured next at Surrey Art Gallery.

In addition to “We Are the Clouds,” Surrey Art Gallery’s exhibits this winter include “Susan Point: Spindle Whorl, a display of silkscreen prints from the Vancouver Art Gallery, and “Don Li-Leger: Counting the Steps of the Sun,” featuring works from the late artist. An opening reception for the latter two exhibits is planned for 7:30 p.m. Saturday (Jan. 25) at the gallery, located at Bear Creek Park.



tom.zillich@surreynowleader.com

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