Project overview

• Chinatown Night-Light was proposed by Redbean Studio, an organization of planning and design professionals who are exploring the emergent identity of Chinatown within the historic, social and geographic context of Vancouver. The project identifies and attempts to address the district’s daily change in character. Every evening, after 6:00pm the majority of businesses and restaurants close their doors and the district goes to sleep. With nightfall, an opportunity emerges to reveal another side of Chinatown’s character through underused storefront windows, building facades and upper-storey windows.

• While the City of Vancouver recognizes and values the physical architecture and cultural space of Chinatown, it’s identity and relationship to Vancouver remains nebulous. Since the identity of the neighbourhood resides partially in architecture and partially in the living memory of its population, Chinatown is balanced between a touristic commodity and a living neighbourhood. The fragility of both the architecture and the community is apparent in the gradual deterioration of heritage listed buildings and the apparent resignation of the community that “Chinatown” is a thing of the past, a collection of memories tracing the relationship between early Chinese immigrants and the embryonic city they helped to define. Adding complexity to the situation is the complex social milieu of the downtown east side and mounting development pressure as Vancouver’s high-rise housing phenomenon pushes east along the Hastings and Pender Street corridors.

• Chinatown Night-Light is seen as a provisional intervention in time and space and a means to attract interest to the neighbourhood from a broad spectrum of the public. In this way, public art is a means to enhance, amplify and strengthen the connection of the City’s population to Chinatown through living memory. As shadows give way to dawn, their memory is layered upon the mental landscape of the City. Their trace remains in memory, linking a new generation to a place through its experience.

Although we are unsuccessful in securing funding through the City’s 2010 arts grant program, this project will remain active.

Referenced projects by other artists:
Rafael Lozano-Hemmer (various light-based installations). He regularly uses public urban space, building facades and the public as a projections surface. Check-out projects: “Subtitled Public”, “Amodal Suspension”, “Two Origins” for relevance to this project.
• Mobile Muse
• Shooting/contagious lights
• VAG light installation (haunted house)
• Murmurs project (location based recorded stories accessed by cell-phone.)
• Guelph solar powered audience controlled light performance

Project members (to be confirmed):

• Mark Ashby – VDN email
• Alex Grunenfelder – VDN
• Mark Norman (advisory)
• Francisco McDougall – Inovativo, VDN
• Sarah Hay – VDN
• Eesmyal Santos-Brault – Recollective Consulting, VDN

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