The Vancouver Biennale opens a bridge to the digital world

A mock-up of Jessica Angel’s Voxel Bridge, to be installed under Vancouver’s Cambie Bridge
Courtesy of the artist / Vancouver Biennial

Vancouver travelers heading south across the Cambie Street Bridge next week will find themselves driving into an immersive art world, considered the largest blockchain-based augmented reality experience of its kind. Part of the Vancouver Biennial, Voxel Bridge, by Colombian artist Jessica Angel, will transform the lower part of the city’s venerable artery — the first incarnation of a stacked wooden easel opened in 1891 — into a 18,000-square-foot transformer installation.

Exploring how “how public space can be built and used in both digital and physical realities,” the work will be both a work of physical and digital art. A layer of vinyl installed directly at the bottom of the bridge deck, extending around the columns and to the ground, will make the structure look like a slightly skewed circuit board. A kind of optical illusion, viewers can feel like they are floating off the sidewalk or literally part of the city network. The title of the work is based on the name of a single point in three-dimensional computer graphics, similar to how a two-dimensional point is called a pixel.

The augmented reality part of the play will be accessed through the Vancouver Biennale app available for free on Mac and Android devices. Angel developed the online element in collaboration with Spheroid Universe, compatible with the blockchain technology of the Kusama multi-chain network, aimed at developers who built decentralized applications.

A miniature model of Jessica Angel’s Voxel Bridge
Courtesy of the Vancouver Biennale

Armed with a mobile device, visitors can walk “through” the mural thanks to QR code-embedded markers embedded in the vinyl, which will allow viewers to “interact” with digital objects containing messages, videos and live data views at real time.

Viewers can see, touch, and hear the story of the Kusama network through twenty different interactive animations, each with a unique NFT (non-fungible token) that exists in the blockchain. These pieces of digital art will be sold in turn to the Kusama RMRK art market, with the proceeds that will help offset the cost of production of the project, which was $ 300,000, well above its initial budget, according to Vancouver Sun.

“Now that the same definition of public has evolved to mean virtual, it was a logical evolution for us, “says Barrie Mowatt, president and artistic director of the Vancouver Biennale.

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