Sunday, July 24, 2016

Truth to Materials

The UBC Okanagan campus is a sculpture garden of wrapped utility boxes. Most of these boxes are designed to blend in with their "natural" surroundings. One box I noticed was designed to blend in with the brick wall behind it.

I am not sure how I feel about this need to wrap things, hide things so that they do not stand out. I loved those red Canada Post boxes from the previous century, how they contrasted with the greenery, including the British Racing Green that the City of Vancouver used on municipal property (benches and fences) to highlight what we once called "public space" -- when there was such a thing.

Among the community projects I am considering for myself this fall is an investigation into UBCO's role in choosing the content of these wraps. If it is not possible to allow these boxes to exist monochromatically (red, grey, beige or green, as in past instances), then why not as surfaces that include the work of those whom UBCO's Faculty of Creative and Creative Studies employs to teach us about colour, line and form, artists like Tannis Nielsen and Katherine Pickering (see below)?

I would much prefer to look at the work of an artist than at a cheesy trompe-l'oeil magic act that has a utility box blending into -- or disappearing into -- the natural landscape.

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