polis: a collective blog about cities worldwide

Reinterpreting Bridges as Public Art

by Vivien Park

From a pedestrian bridge connected to the Maple Leaf Square building in Toronto, Canada, an array of vertical luminaires oscillate in color and geometry based on the movement of passersby. The rhythms of humans and the environment transform the structure of the bridge into a fluid entity. Connection is created by United Visual Artists, a London-based art and design practice that produces work at the intersection of sculpture, architecture, live performance, moving image and digital installation.

Under the New Bridge in Bratislava, Slovakia, an area of about 1,000 square meters is painted with green road paint. This area is also the site of a bus terminal, and is not far from a historic square. The intervention is an attempt to elevate the mood in a stressful environment and provoke a stronger commitment to landscaping on the part of city officials. Green Square was created by the "Urban Interventions" civic association and the Vallo Sadovský Architects.

In New York City, brightly colored plywood shapes fill the negative spaces of the Brooklyn Bridge arches. Depending on the angle and height of viewers, a degree of spatial adjustment is needed to achieve a perfect alignment. The installations were created by artist Martha Clippinger for the 2011 DUMBO Arts Festival.

Creative use of public space on and around bridges offers new ways of experiencing cities. It awakens us to the possibility in all kinds of urban infrastructure. What other forms of public art and urban spectacle can we bring to our everyday environments?

Credits: Video of Connection by United Visual Artists. Images of Green Square from Vallo Sadovsky Architects. Images of Martha Clippinger's DUMBO installation from Perimeters.

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