The WALL: A VHF public art initiative

VHF Wall 9


Interdisciplinary artist Faith Moosang recently led an artist talk explaining the complex research and process that went into her interpretation of the WALL theme, Vancouver’s built heritage. Her new work, down. town. uses 164 individual film frames, video stills and digital photographs from the CBC Archives and Wikimedia Commons to respond to questions on demolitions in Vancouver between 1954 and 2004. A companion website has also been created to assist the viewer in exploring the complex art work.

Visit the down. town. website here.

The WALL, located at the CBC Vancouver Broadcast Centre Plaza at 700 Hamilton Street, is a Vancouver Heritage Foundation public art initiative. Made possible by a unique partnership between Vancouver Heritage Foundation and CBC Radio-Canada, with support from JJ Bean Coffee Roasters, and the City of Vancouver Public Art Program, the WALL features a new artist every year.



To be installed in November 2015, The WALL's upcoming exhibit is by Vancouver based artist Faith Moosang.

From the artist:

down. town. is a large-scale composite photograph created from 164 individual film frames, video stills and digital photographs gleaned from the CBC Archives and Wikimedia Commons. There were three questions behind the work - how many buildings have been demolished in downtown Vancouver between 1954 and 2015, how many of these demolitions were considered newsworthy and how does one represent the notion of absence or missing? The boundaries of the downtown core were taken from the municipality’s parameters - the west side of Main Street to the east side of Burrard, False Creek to Burrard Inlet and the jut of Coal Harbour, beginning on the north side of Georgia and ending at the water. The temporal boundary of the project (1954 onwards) relates to the fact that on December 16, 1953, CBUT (the CBC precursor) became the very first television station broadcasting in Western Canada, marking the moment when Vancouver had local televisual news for the first time in its history.

Research, both online and at the City of Vancouver Archives, revealed that the number of buildings that have come down in this period approximated 1500 – with high-density areas of destruction taking place in the industrial areas of Coal Harbour and False Creek. The CBC Archive, the sole archival resource for the images of buildings in this project, contained footage of 47 of these buildings in the process of being demolished or burnt. Looked at another way, approximately 3% of the destruction was recorded and delivered up to the public as news.

The high number of buildings that have gone missing from our collective landscape is indicative that humans are notorious for forgetting, and that what is normal is always shifting. Vancouver has a (short) long history of development in the pursuit of density and profit.

Faith would like to thank Colin Preston, the Wall project partners, the staff at the CBC and the City of Vancouver Archives, Alex MacKenzie, Paul Levine, Bob Ellenton and Lillipilli Ellenton. She’d like to dedicate this work to Archivists everywhere – analogue, digital, other. You have the best of both worlds – enchantment and order.

About the Artist

Faith Moosang is an interdisciplinary artist who lives and works in Vancouver, BC.  Her work centres around inquiry into spectacle culture, media, mediated imagery, and the notion and materiality of archives. She has an MFA from the School for Contemporary Art at Simon Fraser University and a BFA from Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design. She also works as a historical researcher, a writer and curator, and has published books, articles and blogs relating to culture, pop culture, history and photography. More information about the artist and her work can be found at


2014 "Fountain: the source or origin of anything", Laiwan with support from Centre A

final workInstalled on March 18th, 2014 The WALL's current exhibit is by Vancouver based interdisciplinary artist, writer and educator Laiwan. The project is curated by independent curator and writer Joni Low with the support of  Centre A participating arts organization for the 2014 WALL installation.

From the curator:

“Chosen from the CBC’s analogue media archives, the image is a frame from the 16mm film Summer Afternoon (1956), which follows the adventures of two children near Keefer and Columbia Streets along the northern shores of False Creek – areas that have since been filled in as land. The openness of this moment – of easy access to water, sightlines to a distant shore, and reflection of boats floating beneath the Old Georgia Viaduct – mirrors a space of extended imagination, a fluidity of consciousness.

Laiwan has also created a parallel web project that extends the exploration of fluidity throughout the city, bringing together the oral and natural histories of nearby communities. This virtual public space, a communal archive, is open for all to contribute, to create a shared flow of ideas over time.”

Visit the web project here.

2013 "the people are the city. the people are the city, the people are the city", Paul de Guzman

CBC Wall - public art tourHistory is often perceived as an objective account of significant events and facts. These facts are a distillation of historical memory accumulated from personal and monumental truths. As a society, we accept the notion that some experiences are more suited for official historical documentation while most remain within the realm of personal experiences. These personal and everyday experiences are what inform “the people are the city …”.

“the people are the city …” relies on a vernacular experience of architecture and is composed of two distinct elements: an archival image and a text component, both retrieved from the CBC archives. The image is from the CBC Archive’s collection of photographs by Franz Lindner and shows an instructor with his students at the Vancouver Vocational Institute in 1963. The text "The people are the city" was a headline taken from a copy of the CBC Times, a weekly programming guide published during the 1960's. "The people are the city" was the title of a radio program covering a winter conference which aired on January 28, 1966 about the practice of local democracy and was a joint venture between the CBC and the Canadian Institute on Public Affairs.

From personal experience, I’ve always held the belief that in order to remember something – a place, a name, an idea – I need to say it three times. Similarly, “the people are the city …” appears three times almost as a reminder that architecture is informed by our experiences of it. And while the work academically and visually references photo-based artistic practices that Vancouver is well known for, “the people are the city …” nonetheless tries to evoke a visceral, personal and emotive response. It is an attempt at creating significance out of our banal and everyday interactions. “the people are the city …” comments on architecture’s social responsibility, that architecture and social spaces are fundamentally conceived and built from personal and vernacular histories that ultimately builds communities and contributes toward collective and official historical memories.

About the artist:
Born in Manila, The Philippines where he studied Engineering, Paul de Guzman immigrated to Canada in 1986. Currently living in Vancouver, his self-education in art was achieved by reading texts on art, theory and architecture. For the past few years, his nomadic artistic practice has been characterized by a conceptual and linguistic approach toward the institutional nature of architecture through the creation of transient and temporary structures using linguistic and architectural strategies. His work has been shown widely in Canada and abroad, and has participated in artistic residencies at Stichting Duende in Rotterdam, The Netherlands and the Darling Foundry in Montréal, Canada.

2012 "Alvin Armstrong, Room at the Roxy, March 11, 1957", curated by CBC Vancouver Media Librarian, Christine Hagemoen

In the early days of TV production, set design was an integral part of the entire production. The ‘set’ established the visual feel and informed the viewer about the concept of the production. According to a 1957 edition of the CBC Times, an in-house produced programme guide, “A television set must be more than just a striking backdrop. It must also be functional.” The set designer’s job is to design the physical surroundings in which all the action will take place. “TV cameras and mike booms are big and unwieldy and trail yards of cable behind them. So the set must allow them to be got from one point to another when the producer calls for them to follow the play’s action”. Unlike the theatre, where the set is viewed as a whole, for television only part of the set will be seen on camera at any one time. The set must be so arranged that the picture is engaging to the viewer. The art of the designer is to frame a setting in which the producer can arrange the actors to get the most striking effect.

CBC Vancouver Staff Photographer Alvin Armstrong’s framing of the production still, Room at the Roxy, captures such a moment. Armstrong worked as a photographer at CBC from 1954 to 1973. Among his other photographic responsibilities, Armstrong shot still images of CBUT TV productions for design reference and production promotional use. With Alvin Armstrong’s mise-en-scène, the viewer is witness to a critical point in the action of the studio-shot local drama, Room at the Roxy. Reminiscent of contemporary artist Jeff Wall’s work, the image gives the illusion of capturing a real moment in time. A widowed mother is searching for her drug-addicted son. She arrives at the rain-spattered front door of a dingy Skid Row Vancouver hotel.

In 1957, the size of a television screen was no larger than 21’’. The image viewed was smaller than life-size. By enlarging Armstrong’s original 4x5” photographic negative to a different perspective, larger than reality, a view is created that is not normally seen. This perspective was neither intended nor produced for such an application. It blurs the line between art and archival document.

The role of any archives is to acquire, preserve and provide access to its content. Archivists must resolve balancing their role as stewards of society’s important textual, sound & image 'documents' while simultaneously making the documents accessible to the public. In preserving Alvin Armstrong’s 19 years of work as a CBC still photographer, the CBC Vancouver Media Archives also preserves the documentary evidence of those hundreds of people associated with the productions themselves.

Room at the Roxy – Screenplay, Paul Power; Producer/Director, Frank Goodship; Set Designer, Dave Jones. Cast: Doris Buckingham (pictured), Derek Ralston, Lillian Carlson, Ted Greenhalgh, Earl Matheson and Jim Gilmore.

2011 "News of the Whole World", Holly Ward

NOTWW small(2)News of the Whole World consists of a digital image of a small-scale architectural model loosely based on a combination of Russian Constructivist Agitational Stands and theatrical stage designs.

The Agitational Stand, or Agit-Prop (Agitational Propoganda) designs, employed a variety of strategies to disseminate information in the public realm in order to shape public opinion and sentiment. By creating vertically-oriented structures that projected sound and images, these designs pre-dated the technological capacity to create multi-media environments which are now de-rigeur in the urban landscape.

The newly renovated plaza and upgrades to the CBC building in many ways fulfill this prophecy: satellites that rest on top of the building gather information from around the globe, while inside the building this information is processed and formatted for re-distribution. In the plaza, a public space that includes café’s, seating areas and carefully positioned greenery surrounds strategically positioned information displays, such as a scrolling LED sign of current headlines, and a large-scale digital screen displaying a continuous feed of images.

By reflecting back on the function of these Constructivist designs and creating a playful connection to the context within which it will be viewed, News of the Whole World examines the role of information dissemination in the creation of a public.

2010 "Last Chance", Eric Deis

Mockup-Drawing-Revised 2In Eric Deis’ architecturally-scaled photograph Last Chance, the image of a small house is framed by a large cedar tree on one side and condominium sales office on the other. In the background, the presence of a residential tower suggests a similar fate for the little house at 1062 Richards Street. The photograph was taken just months before the owner ended her resolute stand off and sold her home of 45 years to make way for advancing development.

Echoing the current rapid migration of construction sites from one street to the next throughout Vancouver’s downtown core, Deis has transplanted Last Chance to the 700 block of Hamilton Street. Using a printing medium commonly associated with full colour advertising and real estate marketing, Last Chance asserts a distinctly quiet, black and white presence. Its scale suggests a distant view, yet focuses upon a recent past. Compressing into one image the last house, the last tree, and the last chance for pre-construction pricing, Deis’ photograph captures a somber and familiar moment of transition in Vancouver’s built environment.

Eric Deis is a Vancouver-based artist who has exhibited in North America and Europe. His minutely detailed large-format photographs expose extraordinary moments hidden within regular circumstances.

Last Chance was curated by Barbara Cole, Executive Director of Other Sights for Artists’ Projects. Other Sights is a non-profit society dedicated to forging unique partnerships in the presentation of projects that consider the aesthetic, economic and regulatory conditions of public places and public life.


Barbara Cole                    Colin Preston

Leah Macfarlane              Joost Bakker

Judith Mosley, Executive Director, VHF

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