Public Display of Attention

Michael Alstad has a thing about public space. Through strategic appropriations of storefronts and commercial billboards, Canada's favourite exhibitionist creates street-level installations that offer society a lens-mediated look at itself. Alstad is now back in our faces as co-curator of Transmedia: 29:59, a year-long exhibition on the pedestrian level video billboard at Toronto's Yonge-Dundas Square. Developed with artist Michelle Kasprzak, the project features one-minute videos that run every half hour, on the 29th and 59th minute. November's works explore the webcam--that ubiquitous little icon of public surveillance and private voyeurism. On the 29th minute, Toronto can watch Cheryl Sourkes's 'Live from the Wedding Chapel in Las Vegas,' a series of videos showing various Elvis impersonators marrying a variety of heterosexual couples, which Sourkes made by animating stills captured from a remote webcam. Minute 59 features BlueScreen's 'StreamScape,' a perpetually changing video work made up of hybridized images from 13 webcams scattered throughout the world, all gathered on a server and incorporated into an on-line 'inhabited landscape.' Of course, you don't have to be in Toronto to experience these web works. Click on the Transmedia link to peep in on them from the comfort of your own screen. - Peggy MacKinnon