Environment

High-tech art to bring B.C.'s annual salmon run to downtown Vancouver

Uninterrupted, a digital art installation planned for Vancouver's Cambie Street Bridge, hopes to inspire conservation efforts
  • May 16, 2017
  • 432 words
  • 2 minutes
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British Columbia’s famous salmon run will pass through the heart of Vancouver this summer, shimmering across the Cambie Street Bridge as part of a high-tech digital art exhibit called Uninterrupted.

Starting June 28, glowing images of the annual run will be projected nightly onto the underside of the bridge, accompanied by an original ambient soundtrack. The installation’s creators hope the spectacle will inspire visitors to learn more about an epic migration few people ever get to witness.

Artist Nettie Wild began the project in 2010 following a trip to the Adams River to see the salmon run. “My life was changed by what I saw,” Wild says of the salmon run. “There were these big circles of moving mandalas of red fish in patterns that never repeat themselves. I was so moved, and I knew I had to find a way, as an artist and a human being, to share this.”

A film director by trade, Wild felt that the project needed to be cinematic. She says she wanted to push the boundaries of the medium, however, and bring it outside of the theatre. She biked all around Vancouver looking for a building she could project her work onto, and fortuitously came across the bridge. 

She then spent three years working with a team to design the production to conform to the underside of the bridge deck and pillars.

“The bridge has shaped our design as much as the fish have,” says Wild, noting all the footage comes from nature. 

The half hour show will run Tuesday through Sunday evenings throughout the summer. Admission is free, and spectators are encouraged to watch the show from Coopers’ Park at the north end of the bridge. And, should their curiosity about the salmon be piqued as Wild’s was, she and her team have created a website loaded with facts about threats facing the salmon and ways the public can help.

“I’m not a biologist, but as an artist I can create something where people will become curious,” says Wild.

The website connects visitors to local stream-keeper groups looking for volunteers, and tells stories, in the form of small vignettes, of ongoing projects to save B.C.’s salmon. It even includes a mini challenge series to reward visitors for volunteering and aiding in conservation.

“The wonderful part of this project is that salmon are one of those stories about the environment and about conservation where people can actually do something about it,” says Rae Hull, one of the producers of the project.

Uninterrupted runs June 28 through the end of September, five nights a week for half an hour starting at 10 p.m.

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