Bus-Tops to turn shelters across London into art for Cultural Olympiad

By Culture24 Reporter | 11 January 2012
A photo of two people leaning on a bus stop by standing on a wall behind it
Art Public are bringing Bus-Tops to London© Matthew Andrews
Between now and September, bus shelters across 20 London boroughs will be about more than dubious arrival times and faulty bulbs.

Anyone angrily pursuing a double-decker on a freezing morning might find it hard to draw solace from a former Turner Prize nominee, though.

An image of a black and white contemporary art poster reading if you can dream it
Mark Titchner's design should divert heads© Mark Titchner
"Throughout our daily lives, we constantly absorb images and texts that tell us we can be more than we are," observes Mark Titchner, whose 31 Day Programme – an evolving series of "messages and motivational challenges" – will lead Bus-Tops, a Cultural Olympiad project turning the roofs of the shelters into a "unique network of digital canvasses."

"This project is an attempt to present this phenomenon in its most blunt form, as a series of inspirational, potentially unobtainable commands. It is a disembodied voice, both nurturing and humbling."

Titchner wants to galvanise the transitional spaces through daily animations which are a bit more honest than the usual advertising and self-help offers ticket-holders might be tempted by.

Bus-Tops was dreamed up by Alfie Dennen and Paula Le Dieu, the directors of the group Art Public, alongside several "creative technologists".

"We hope that this project fosters new conversations around the role of the public in art and the power of new technologies to bridge gaps between the public and artistic expressions," they say, inviting the public to help illuminate 30 screens in the company of a range of month-long "residencies" by contemporary artists.

"By putting the discourse back into public hands, we can provoke and inspire bus travellers as they gaze out of their top deck windows."

Titchner's is the opening gambit in a proposal which is one of 12 chosen from an open call for public art to accompany the Olympics.

Nine English regions will be joined by individual works for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and, with a total of £5.4 million invested, the scale of the campaign eclipses what was hardly a quiet year for public art in 2011.

"This reinforces the potential in presenting such work within the transport of the network of the City of London," says Tamsin Dillon, the Head of the Art on the Underground scheme which has enlivened the Tube.

"The Bus-Tops project offers an intriguing new way for people to experience world class contemporary art as an integral part of their everyday lives."

Pictures of the Tops:
A photo of a square of wood with a screen inside it showing a close-up female face
A photo of a square panel of wood and with a hollow in the centre inside a factory
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