Miraya is a public artwork designed to engage pedestrians as they move along the seawall walkways in Vancouver, Canada and Dubai, United Arab Emirates. This innovative public artwork will use cutting edge wireless networking and video streaming technology to create real-time links between urban mega-developments in Canada and the United Arab Emirates. Taking its name from the Arabic word for mirror, reflection, or mirage, Miraya comprises interactive sites on Vancouver's False Creek and the Dubai Marina that will engage residents and tourists as they promenade the seawall walkways. When people gather at two or more locations simultaneously, the portal senses their presence and come to life, streaming live video feeds that allow those Dubai to see and interact with their counterparts in Vancouver, and vice versa. Seduced by the flowing images below, onlookers will find themselves pulled vertiginously into an uncanny landscape - here, not here; similar, yet distinct. Linking 21st century urban developments in both cities across time and place, Miraya's network of custom-designed translucent grates, unexpected openings in the surface of the walkway, provides opportunities for reflection on 21st century urban developments that have come to epitomize a new global urban leisure and luxury lifestyle.
Miraya exists at the nexus of an emerging global geography: master-planned residential glass towers lining urban waterfronts designed to create new forms of upscale living. Concord Pacific's Concord Pacific Place along Vancouver's False Creek is an international example of successful urban planning; it epitomizes the new "Vancouverism", Canada's own 21st century answer to the outdated Manhattanism.
According to a popular narrative, Emirati developer Mohamed Ali Alabbar visited Concord Pacific Place in the mid-1990s and was so impressed by what he saw that he set about replicating it in Dubai. According to architecture critic Trevor Boddy, Alabbar's Emaar Properties then began construction on an "almost a perfect clone of downtown Vancouver - right down to the handrails on the seawall, the skinny condo towers on townhouse bases, all around a 100-per-cent artificial, full-scale version of False Creek filled with seawater from the Persian Gulf." This international urban collaboration between Canadian and Emirati developers has resulted in the wildly successful Dubai Marina, a prototype of upscale high-density master planning and has made Emaar Properties one of the largest global providers of premier lifestyles in the world, with new False Creek-inflected projects throughout the Persian Gulf, India, Pakistan, and recently North America.
The research and creative team of Miraya brings together the disciplines of artists, educators, scientists, theorists, urban planners and architects. Heading this team are artists Henry Tsang and M. Simon Levin, and scholar Glen Lowry. Support to date includes the Social Sciences Humanities Research Council, Emily Carr University, British Columbia Arts Council, Banff New Media Institute and the City of Vancouver.Bios
Glen Lowry is writer, educator, cultural theorist, and editor. He received his PhD in English from Simon Fraser University, where he specialized in contemporary Canadian literature and culture. Current research focuses on collaborations among artist researchers and other academics. This includes two SSHRC-funded studies: Miraya-a Research/Creation project looking at links between cultural production and the global-urban nexus in relation to connections between waterfront developments in Vancouver, Canada, and Dubai, United Arab Emirates; Impacts and Outcomes of Research/Creation Pilot Project funding. Since 2002, Lowry has been the editor of the Simon Fraser University-based cultural journal West Coast Line. And he has just published his first poetry book, Pacific Avenue (LINEbooks, 2009).
Henry Tsang's projects incorporate digital media, video, photography, language and sculptural elements in the exploration of the relationship between the public, community and identity in the new global order. He has worked in the public sphere, producing public art that ranges from community-based projects to permanent commissioned installations. His curatorial projects span the local, national and international. Video installations such as Orange County (2004), and Olympus (2006) - shot in California, Beijing, Torino and Vancouver - examine overlapping urban and socio-political spaces. Napa North (2008) looks at the relationship between wine, real estate and cultural translation in BC's Okanagan Valley. His current project, Maraya, with Glen Lowry, M. Simon Levin et al, is an interactive public artwork that will connect Vancouver's False Creek with the Dubai Marina in the UAE. Henry received the VIVA Award in 1993.