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Watch: New interactive public art takes flight in Rey Sargent Park

A 20-foot tall structure near Lonsdale Avenue uses a Victorian-era trick to produce the illusion of a flying raven.

Visitors of Rey Sargent Park might see a bird in flight that isn’t flying at all.

Stainless steel, panes of glass and 12 aluminum ravens make up a new, interactive piece of public art on display in North Vancouver.

If you go up to it, you can move a disk at the bottom to spin the entire structure. When in motion, the ravens above reflect onto panes of glass behind, creating the illusion of a flying bird.

It’s a riff on a Victorian-era animation device called a praxinoscope, explained Cheryl Hamilton, one of two Vancouver-based artists who created the art piece, which is called Corvus.

As the sculpture spins, your brain is processing the image of the raven that just passed and the new bird on top of one another.

Hamilton said her colleague Michael Vandermeer has an amazing ability with geometry, so he figured out the angles to properly see the animation effect from the ground.

“It took literally months of drawing trying to figure out the geometry,” Vandermeer said. The artists made several smaller models before building the full version.

Now that the finished piece is up, the artists said they’re glad it’s living in North Van.

“We love how North Vancouver is pushed up against nature,” Hamilton said. “It’s such a perfect fit.”

Corvus was commissioned by developer Adera as a community amenity during the construction of its Crest condo building at Lonsdale and East 8th Avenue.

“Public art enriches our community, bringing gathering spaces to life,” said Lori Phillips, public art officer for North Vancouver Recreation and Culture Commission. “It can be visually stimulating, create conversation, educate and inspire. Corvus does all these things and is a wonderful addition to the City of North Vancouver’s vibrant public art collection.”

From their studio on Granville Island, ie: Creative Artworks, Hamilton and Vandermeer have produced four other public art works in the city: in Edgemont Village, Princess Park and in the Marine Drive neighbourhood.

Video credit: Lisa Nielsen

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