Digital Natives

Digital Natives

curated by Lorna Brown and Clint Burnham
April 4–30, 2011

electronic billboard at the Burrard Street Bridge
Vancouver, BC

Other Sights for Artists’ Projects is pleased to announce Digital Natives, a public art project on the electronic billboard at the Burrard Street Bridge, in Vancouver, Canada.

Located on Skwxwú7mesh territory in the heart of the city, the digital signs, facing north and south, flash a static advertisement every ten seconds. Their scale, and their proximity to the bridge makes for an assertive relationship to the pedestrians, cyclists and motorists entering and departing downtown, and this occupation of visual space has been the subject of considerable controversy.

For Digital Natives, the billboard becomes a space for exchange between native and non-native communities in an exploration of language in public space. Using the form of tweets, artists and writers from across North America have contributed text messages to be broadcast during the month of April, coinciding with the 125th Anniversary of the City of Vancouver. Interrupting the flow of advertisements, the brief messages respond to the location and history of the billboard; of digital language and translation, and of the city itself. extends the conversation, featuring a blog that captures the exchange between contributors across the continent. The contested history of the site is chronicled in text and images, and a live Twitter feed tracks public responses to the project.

Digital Natives is public art that the public not only ‘receives’, but may also produce. Contributions from First Nations young people have been gathered through a series of workshops, and local and remote audiences are invited to tweet their messages to @ diginativ to be considered for broadcast.

Public Language Trouble

Sixty messages were composed for Digital Natives: two contributions, and one Skwxwú7mesh translation were omitted before broadcast by the corporation that is under contract to manage the billboard’s content, Astral Media Outdoor. We present them below in solidarity with these respected artists:


Edgar Heap of Birds

“Your grandparents’ unacknowledged debts return to you as rage against the car in front”

Larissa Lai

Other Sights for Artists’ Projects is dismayed at the exclusion of their work.

Contributing Artists and Writers:
Candice Hopkins, cheyanne turions, Chris Bose, Christian Bok, Daina Warren, Edgar Heap of Birds, Emily Fedoruk, Henry Tsang, Jeff Derksen, Larissa Lai, Lisa Robertson, Lori Emerson, Marianne Nicolson, Mercedes Eng, Michael Turner, Peter Morin, Phillip Djwa, Postcommodity, Rachel Zolf, Raymond Boisjoly, Rita Wong, Roger Farr, Sonny Assu, Tania Willard.

Digital Natives is commissioned by the City of Vancouver Public Art Program with the support of Vancouver 125 and the participation of the Government of Canada. We are grateful for the support of The Canada Council for the Arts and the Museum of Anthropology, at the University of British Columbia.

About Other Sights
Other Sights for Artists’ Projects Association operates as a collective of Vancouver-based individuals with expertise in curation, project management, presentation, delivery, and promotion of temporary art projects in public spaces. Other Sights is dedicated to challenging perceptions, encouraging discourse and promoting individual perspectives about shared social spaces. We seek to create a presence for art in spaces and sites that are accessible to a broad public, such as the built environment, communications technologies, the media, and the street, supporting critically rigorous work for highly visible locations. We collaborate and share resources with organizations and individuals to present projects that consider the aesthetic, economic and regulatory conditions of public places and public life, creating new platforms for temporary artist projects in the public realm.

Follow us on Twitter @diginativ

Image above:
Barbara Cole.


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