Vancouver artist, Sylvia Grace Borda, in partnership with Nelson area residents have worked together to create the first staged net artworks in the Columbia Basin area to reside in Google Street view.
Borda is known for her pioneering work to create unconventional photographic staging and to produce the first ever global artworks in Google Street View in 2013. For her iteration in Nelson, the artist has invited participates to be caught in a staged kiss for the camera. The resultant images exist in 360 allowing the public to navigate around her subjects and to see her various framed compositions.
Sylvia Grace Borda as artist in residence at the Oxygen Art Centre developed her ‘Kissing Project’ to reside in Google Street View. The artist’s proposal is not what you would expect – she has aimed to create contemporary artworks, celebrating local and cultural values of love and peace, while also capturing a portrait of Nelson residents caught in an embrace for a kiss.
The idea for the project came about through her interest in a 1950s photograph of a Doukhobor couple kissing held in the archives of the Touchstones: Museum of Art and History. The photograph shows the moment of a kiss between a then unknown Doukhobor woman and man. This archival image won the artist’s immediate admiration for both the treatment of the subjects and its compositional arrangement. The artist believes that the image of the Doukhobor kissing couple is particularly iconic and deserves national recognition as does Nelson’s own culture of openness. The resulting project has been inspired by all of these intersections, and in the artist’s desire to bring forth in her work a similar message of affection and affinity among the people who call Nelson home.
The artist invited the public to nominate kissing partners, places, and to create visual narratives that could be shared with wider audiences as contemporary artworks. The task of photographing the couples happened at locations chosen by the couples ranging from Lakeside park to Kootenay Co-op Radio, to name a few.
Borda had each of her kissing participants stand motionless in order to be captured by a panosphere camera. In this way, Borda has cleverly reverse engineered photographic practices in which the slow shutter and film speeds of early photography resulted in studio sitters being propped up for 3 minutes in order for a portrait image to be recorded. The artist has staged her subject so they become 3-dimensional portrait sitters caught by the camera through multiple viewpoints in both time and space.
Borda’s choreographed scenes illustrate how Google Street view has fundamentally expanded the visual landscape and changed the notion of public space. Her artwork equally becomes both a distributed form of collectivity, and a record of new visuality. Borda’s work pushes the boundaries of what constitutes contemporary art in an public expanded public space while also demonstrating how social connectedness can create a highly visual and hybrid commons celebrating space, time, and the tableau vivant.
Photo Caption: Sylvia Grace Borda aimed to create contemporary artworks, celebrating local and cultural values of love and peace. — Submitted photo