Thanks to Bus-Tops, bus stop shelters across the UK will be decorated with 2012 London Olympic-inspired art. This is a digital art project that has been rolled out to 30 shelters in 20 boroughs across the capital. However, it’s part of a bigger scheme from 12 public art commissions that is being launched across Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland as well.
Mark Titchner, the Turner Prize nominee, is one of the first to display his work in a series of motivational challenges and inspirational commands. Some of them read: “If you don’t like your life, you can change it” and “Act or be Acted Upon”. His contribution comes from a self-improvement programme with 31 slogans that change every day. He says that the idea is for commuters and other travellers to have a quick message that they can take with them on their journeys. He tells the BBC that he’s interest in how language communicates meanings – slogans need people to apply them for them to mean anything.
The Arts Council England is funding Bus-Tops in collaboration with Transport for London (TfL). The project will have the work of nine professional artists displayed, but they aren’t the only ones who will display their work on bus stop shelters. The public can create their own on the Bus-Tops website and submit it to the curators from January 16, when they will also be able to get information about the art work. The displays are controlled via the internet, with the curators changing the images at different times of day and on different routes. The passengers on the top decks of double deckers will have a great view of the images.
Art Public is the organisation responsible for the project, and artistic director Alfie Dennen tells the BBC that he’s been getting many emails from people asking what it is, if its from his organisation, and what they are suppose to do with it. The idea is to challenge conventions in public spaces and to inspire travellers on buses. It’s a project they always wanted to do, as they knew they want to work with bus stop shelters. However, they didn’t really expect to get the bid, and they didn’t have to change the initial concept very much to make it inspired by the Olympics. The project is participative, collaborative, open and about London, which are some of the sub-themes that “permeate the Cultural Olympiad”.
However, TfL has had one complaint about the slogan, “Act or be Acted Upon”. Dennen says that the issue was with the content. It’s very interesting that the slogan was considered alarmist content by someone on a bus. That’s the kind of initiation to dialogue that they invite though, and he considers the complaint awesome in that respect. However, he’s sorry if the person was offended.