Markham Public Art Presents Becoming Public Art: The Digital Turn in Public Art


Markham Public Art presents Becoming Public Art: The Digital Turn in Public Art

Please join us on Tuesday, December 8, from 1:30 – 3 PM EST for The Digital Turn in Public Art, featuring three presentations and a moderated group discussion. There has been an increasing interest in the use of urban screens, digital fabrication, and data visualization in public spaces in recent years. What is the digital as a public space? How does it relate to other public art practices? What are the opportunities, and also the challenges? The Digital Turn in Public Art is the ninth and last session of Becoming Public Art, a nine-week virtual summit presented by Markham Public Art in partnership with ART+PUBLIC UnLtd.

Marc Boutin, marc boutin architectural collaborative (MBAC)
Jon Isherwood, Bennington College, Digital Stone Project
Ben Rubin, artist, EAR Studio Inc.

Mitchell Chan, Studio F Minus

The event is free, online, and open to the public. Registration is required, click here.


The 4th Street Underpass Project (Calgary), a collaboration between the artist Krzysztof Wodiczko and the marc boutin architectural collaborative, offers perspectives on how the digital is operationalized in site-specific public art as a strategic element of a robust public realm. The digital is increasingly present in different forms of public art. Its fundamental nature of being ephemeral, immaterial, data-driven, and radically public offers new opportunities—as well as challenges to—how public art is designed, delivered, owned and experienced.

Marc Boutin’s critical practice focuses on the synthesis of art, architecture, and urban design. In 1997, Marc joined the University of Calgary and was the Director of the Architecture Program from 2006-2010. The recipient of the 2002 Prix de Rome, his firm the marc boutin architectural collaborative, is the 2020 Royal Architectural Institute of Canada Firm of the Year winner. Marc is a Fellow of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada and a member of the Royal Canadian Academy of Art.

The renowned sculptor Jon Isherwood will present on Arctic Shift, a commission for the new US embassy in Oslo, Norway. The work is the result of a multi-year collaboration between The US Art in Embassies program and a cross-disciplinary team from Bennington College in Vermont, led by Isherwood. The team used complexity graphics to illustrate sea rise, flight paths, oil and gas levels, indigenous peoples, polar bear migration, and fishing zones. Isherwood used 3D modeling software to organize the collected data into a dynamic 3D design, and the sculpture was carved with 7-axis robotic technologies from a block of white Carrara marble.

Jon Isherwood’s sculpture has been widely exhibited in public and private galleries in the US, Canada, Europe and China. Included in over 25 solo exhibitions, his work can be found in 20 public collections and he has completed over 30 commissions—including most recently sculptures for the US State Department Art in Embassies Program, Capital One Investments, and New Jersey Public Art. He teaches at Bennington College in Vermont, and is the President of the Digital Stone Project.

Ben Rubin will present his 2018 project Herald / Harbinger, created in collaboration with Jer Thorp and installed at Brookfield Place in central Calgary. The artwork is linked via satellite to a glacial observatory that the artists constructed in a remote area of Banff National Park, about 200 km up the Bow River from Calgary. At Brookfield Place, the installation renders the Bow glacier’s nearly constant activity as an immersive field of light, sound, and motion.

Ben Rubin is an artist based in New York who creates media installations, projections, and theatrical designs for public spaces and live performances. From 2015-2020, he served as Director of the Center for Data Arts at The New School, where he developed advanced techniques for data visualization and sonification. Rubin received his BA in Computer Science and Semiotics from Brown University in 1987, and his MS Vis. from the MIT Media Lab in 1989.

Mitchell F. Chan, the moderator of this session, is an installation and media artist who has exhibited across North America. In 2008, he co-founded the public art collective Studio F Minus. Over the past 12 years, he has overseen the conceptual development and fabrication of dozens of public artworks and projects in Canada and the United States. Chan was Education Coordinator at InterAccess Media Arts Centre in Toronto from 2012 to 2015. From 2014 to 2019 he taught Art & Code at OCAD University.


Becoming Public Art: Working Models and Case Studies for Art in Public is a nine-week virtual summit presented by the City of Markham in partnership with ART+PUBLIC UnLtd. In a series of virtual sessions co-curated by Rebecca Carbin, Principal, ART+PUBLIC UnLtd, and Yan Wu, Public Art Curator, City of Markham, professionals in the field will present the broad range of perspectives that shape public art making today.

For summit details and to subscribe for updates, please visit the summit website.

General inquiries:
Media inquiries: Yan Wu, Markham Public Art Curator

Image 1: Ben Rubin and Jer Thorp, Herald / Harbinger, 2018. Brookfield Place, Calgary. Photo © 2018 Brett Gilmour.
Image 2: Krzysztof Wodiczko and the marc boutin architectural collaborative, The 4th Street Underpass Project, Calgary, 2011. View along responsive public art wall assembly. Photo by YellowCamera Photography Inc. Courtesy of MBAC.
Image 3: Jon Isherwood, Arctic shift, 2016-18. Carrara marble, 7-axis robotic milling. Courtesy of Jon Isherwood.