“Vectorial Elevation” is an interactive artwork that allows you to direct powerful light beams and transform Vancouver’s skyline between February 4 – 28, 2010.

For the 2010 Winter Olympics in Canada, Rafael Lozano Hemmer was commissioned by the Cultural Olympiad and the City of Vancouver to stage his public art piece, every night until February 28.

This interactive installation allows people visiting to design huge light sculptures over English Bay by directing 20 powerful searchlights over a 100,000 square metre area. A webpage is made for each participant with photos documenting his or her design. The piece has undergone many improvements since it was first presented in Mexico City’s Zócalo Square for the Millennium celebrations ten years ago.

If people don’t participate the piece does not exist. Fortunately, the project has been online for 7 days as a test period and in that time the website has received visitors from 118 countries, who have created thousands of personalized designs: people’s webpages have had everything from marriage proposals to political statements, memorials and messages of support to athletes.

This website includes a virtual model of Vancouver where you are able to design “light sculptures” with 20 robotic searchlights located along English Bay. Once you are happy with your design you submit it together with your name, location and dedication or comments. Every night from dusk to dawn new designs are quietly rendered sequentially as they are added to a queue.

The project automatically creates a personal webpage for each participant, documenting his or her contribution with views from 4 project webcams. With a 15 Km visibility radius, the installation intends to blend the virtual space of the Internet with one of the most emblematic public spaces in Vancouver.

This large-scale public art installation is commissioned by the City of Vancouver’s Olympic and Paralympic Public Art Program and Vancouver 2010 Cultural Olympiad, presented by Bell, with support from the Province of Quebec. The installation —considered one of the world’s largest interactive artworks— is part of CODE, the Cultural Olympiad’s Digital Edition.

“Vectorial Elevation” was originally developed for the Millennium Celebrations in Mexico City’s Zócalo Square, where over 800,000 people from 89 countries participated in its two-week exhibition.

The installation was subsequently presented for the Fête des Lumières in Lyon in 2003 (600,000 participants) and for the EU expansion celebrations in Dublin in 2004 (500,000 participants).

The piece in Vancouver is the largest and brightest to date, with 20 10kW searchlights covering English Bay with a 100,000 m2 canopy of light, For comparison, Mexico City used 18 7kw lights and covered 70,000 m2.

Despite the monumental size of the installation and its wide visibility, the project is not intended as a cathartic pre-programmed spectacle like a fireworks display or a son-et-lumière show.

On the contrary, the piece is designed to attract constant, personal participation that creates a sense of connection, complicity and entitlement.