Vectorial Elevation Lights up English Bay in 2010

Comments 21 by Rebecca Bollwitt

During 2010 Winter Olympics, Vancouver will look and feel very different with events, special activities, structures, gatherings, and art installations like Vectorial Elevation.

A part of the Cultural Olympiad, 20 robotic searchlights (each 10,000 watts) will shift, move, and glide through the skies above English Bay nightly creating silent patterns reaching up to the stars.

The designs that the lights will follow are submitted online by people around the world and will also be webcast nightly over the internet as well.

See how it was done in Mexico City’s Zócalo square in 2007 with this YouTube series: Part One & Part Two.

Vectorial Elevation is the first time the internationally celebrated work of art will be displayed in Canada and over a body of water. Considered one of the world’s largest interactive artworks, it is a part of CODE (the Cultural Olympiad’s Digital Edition) and was created by Canadian artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer.


The spotlights themselves will be situated at Vanier Park and along Sunset Beach, covering an area of 100,000 square meters, and will be visible within 15 kms of Downtown. Their patterns will be determined by viewers around the globe as everyone from Vancouver to Vietnam — and everywhere in between — is encouraged to submit their designs and personalized messages through the website

The nighttime light shows will begin February 4, 2010 and run dusk to dawn every night until the 28th.

I’d love to take this to a poll to see if you are excited about this art installation, based on some mixed comments I’ve seen come through on Twitter so far.

[poll id=”41″]

February 26, 2010 The following is a time lapse so it appears as though the lights are more frenzied, however they stream quietly through the sky as the noises of the city fade away with the city behind you.

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21 Comments  —  Comments Are Closed

  1. Michael AllisonTuesday, December 1st, 2009 — 1:44pm PST

    I’m looking forward to this. I live one block in on Harwood and have a partial view of English Bay.

    Should be good.

  2. Mom604Tuesday, December 1st, 2009 — 2:12pm PST

    I think it’s a fantastic idea. It’s only for one month. People need to stop whining and complaining all the time. This is a special event. Let’s enjoy it while it lasts. Vancouverites complain that this is a “no-fun” city. Yet, when something comes along to jazz things up a bit, they just complain. Sheesh!

  3. Marc SmithTuesday, December 1st, 2009 — 5:09pm PST

    I am looking forward to it. I am very excited by all things spectacular that will be added to our city during the Olympics. I think Vancouver need sot start getting excited!

  4. Shane GibsonTuesday, December 1st, 2009 — 5:36pm PST

    I think the preceding blog before the poll will skew the results in the positive. I like the idea overall but doing a poll like this should include both sides of the story IMHO. Here’s the energy consumption and light pollution side of the story/opinion:

  5. Shawn BouchardTuesday, December 1st, 2009 — 5:51pm PST

    I think it’s going to be a really great environmental art installation. I look forward to seeing the night sky lit up. Let’s have some fun!

  6. klparrotTuesday, December 1st, 2009 — 10:29pm PST

    I do wonder about the light pollution. I’d like to see photos of similar installations, rather than just renderings of the planned installation here, and I wonder what the neighbours of past installation sites have to say about them. It also would’ve been nice if there had been some consultation with residents here beforehand, rather than just an announcement that it would be happening.

    I realize that the Olympics is going to be a party, and we should have fun let a few things slide, but I don’t know that the lights really need to be kept running all night. Shutting them off at midnight would probably be reasonable.

    Overall, though, though I’m somewhat wary, I’m hopeful that it will be an interesting, dramatic display without being too obtrusive.

  7. Miss604Wednesday, December 2nd, 2009 — 4:42am PST

    @Shane the preceding blog post was information and fact-based. I did not once say “this will be totally awesome” nor did I mention any of the specific downfalls.

    For example, depending on your opinion you can take this statement any way:

    20 robotic searchlights (each 10,000 watts) will shift, move, and glide through the skies above English Bay nightly creating silent patterns reaching up to the stars.

    Some people may think, “Wow 10,000 watts? Where is the energy coming from?” while others will think, “Wow that sounds beautiful.” By not making these statements myself in the post I think the poll and comments are all totally valid and not “skewed” as you say, by my article.

  8. Jacinta LaurentWednesday, December 2nd, 2009 — 5:17am PST

    The project website at has a Frequently Asked Questions section where they discuss light pollution, energy usage and what public response has been in previous versions. To put this project in perspective, it mentions that it uses a tenth of the electricity necessary to power a typical hockey game. It is here

  9. Patrick MeehanThursday, December 3rd, 2009 — 7:03am PST

    Forget light pollution (though it’s a major concern) let’s talk about real pollution.

    Do we really want to be the Olympics that so easily wastes energy and electricity? I thought we were showcasing our ‘green’ province? The whole thing smacks of hypocrisy.

    I’m sure it’ll look pretty, and be fun, but like, can we please not just waste energy on useless pretty things?

  10. Alan HawkerTuesday, December 8th, 2009 — 1:32pm PST

    I will definitely go and see this when I am in Canada and take the family.

  11. Vancouver 2010 Concerts and Live Performances » Vancouver Blog Miss 604 by Rebecca BollwittThursday, December 17th, 2009 — 8:10am PST

    […] Live CODE (the Cultural Olympiad Digital Edition) also has its own range of events including the Vectorial Elevation, the Drum and Light Festival, and more. Check here for full CODE […]

  12. Vancouver Cultural Olympiad 2010 » Vancouver Blog Miss 604 by Rebecca BollwittThursday, January 14th, 2010 — 10:32am PST

    […] Vectorial Elevation from February 4th until the 28th it will light up the sky above English Bay with patterns submitted by the public. Free with no reservation required, just find a viewing point somewhere and look up. […]

  13. Doug FarmerSunday, January 31st, 2010 — 9:28am PST

    Last night, and into the wee hours of this morning, they tested all 20 lights and it was spectacular! We had low cloud (2,000′) in English bay which made things even more fantastic with the reflected light. When I first saw them installing the lights earlier in the week I was a bit turn off by the idea (knowing nothing about it as art). It’s never dark in downtown Vancouver and I saw this as one more bit of light pollution. However – it’s very much worth it and also short lived (3 weeks or so). I can’t wait to not only submit a few ‘designs’ but also see what the other 130,000 submissions look like.

    A photo of last night’s test (ran from 11:00PM to 1:30AM this morning) can be found here ->

  14. nikkiSunday, January 31st, 2010 — 10:54pm PST

    Yes I like the idea, kinda stoked that its right in front of my apartment and I will have front row seats !!

  15. Grad party this Friday! « VanWest College BlogWednesday, February 3rd, 2010 — 11:14am PST

    […] light display for the Olympics, Vectorial Elevation, will be started from this Thursday so you also will be able to enjoy […]

  16. Vancouver 2010 Vectorial Elevation in the Miss604 Flickr Group » Vancouver Blog Miss 604 by Rebecca BollwittTuesday, February 9th, 2010 — 3:54pm PST

    […] Vectorial Elevation is illuminating the night sky, sending beams of light across English Bay and Vanier Park. When I first wrote about the free public outdoor light show I added a poll to my site where 77% of readers agreed that they are all for this display. Photo credit: fredericklin on Flickr […]

  17. Open During the Paralympics and Beyond » Vancouver Blog Miss 604 by Rebecca BollwittMonday, February 22nd, 2010 — 11:51am PST

    […] Vectorial Elevation (ends February 28th) […]

  18. bevMonday, February 22nd, 2010 — 11:56am PST

    keep those lights going, love them, and the instant world connection with designs from everywhere, i have used them to get my bearings at nite rather than the mountains

  19. Vancouver 2010 Day 14 Recap » Vancouver Blog Miss 604 by Rebecca BollwittFriday, February 26th, 2010 — 12:06pm PST

    […] the water taxi across False Creek and walked home through the West End, under the soft blue glow of Vectorial Elevation. It’s one of the things I’ll miss most around the city when the Games are […]

  20. soniaMonday, March 1st, 2010 — 2:59pm PST

    Absolutely love them – please keep them going. Our paralympics competitors have deserved this wonderful display as well!!!
    And, as above, it is one of the things I will miss most – they are spectacular. When will we ever see something like this again and the Olympics/Paralympics will not be back for a very long time if ever!

  21. AllenThursday, March 4th, 2010 — 6:13pm PST

    Love the lights. I hope they can be a permanent feature of the city. They make our skyline look extremely vibrant at night!

    Please keep them!

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