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Vancouver Icons: Digital Orca

March 6th, 2012 @ 12:07pm (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

My Vancouver Icons series began as a way to showcase photos of buildings, statues, and everyday Vancouver scenes that have a history that most don’t know. However, there are some subjects are captured more than others when I browse the images that have been added to the Miss604 Flickr Pool. One that keeps popping up at least once a week is Douglas Coupland’s Digital Orca, which was installed at Jack Poole Plaza in 2010.

Digital Orca, by Douglas Coupland
Photo credit: Uncle Buddha on Flickr – Submitted to the Miss604 Flickr Pool.

From BC Living: “Douglas Coupland’s first piece of public art in Vancouver, Harbour Spirit Digital Orca, is both beautiful and bizarre, appearing as digital art in the three-dimensional world. Made using a steel armature with aluminum cladding, black and white cubes comprise the orca’s body, “making a familiar symbol of the West Coast become something unexpected and new,” Coupland writes on a plaque near the sculpture. It also touches upon the importance of technology and nature in the province.”

A Whale of a Prom Night
Photo credit: Tom Wiebe & vjm. – Submitted to the Miss604 Flickr Pool.

From Vancouver Observer: “One of Vancouver’s most beloved and well known public art pieces is the Digital Orca at the new convention centre. The familiar symbol of the West Coast is represented by 3D cubes, giving the appearance of a 2D object. It’s kind of like looking at a photograph with really bad resolution.”

digital orca
Photo credit: Sean Munson on Flickr

Pixel Whale Digital Orca
Photo credit: Tyler Ingram & s.yume on Flickr

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Photo credit: riacale on Flickr

Electric Tulips and the Pixel Whale
Photo credit: keepitsurreal on Flickr

From Jaunted.com: “Most people call the Digital Orca either “Lego Orca” or “Pixel Whale,” a sure sign that, once again, a Douglas Coupland creation is drawing attention and sparking a reaction. There’s a clear “do not climb” plaque at the foot of the inviting square “steps” that form the whale’s tail, yet invariably people climb it to pose for pictures. It’s just too much like a fun, gigantic toy!”

Digital Whale
Photo credit: kennymatic on Flickr – Submitted to the Miss604 Flickr Pool.

If you’re not a fan of the whale itself, you can’t help but love the view. I noticed that the majority of Digital Orca photos that I came across are all shot facing north, capturing the mountains in the background. The piece is only two years old but it’s quickly turned into a true Vancouver Icon.

Previous Vancouver Icons posts include: The Crab Sculpture, Girl in Wetsuit, The Sun Tower, The Hotel Vancouver, The Gassy Jack Statue, The Marine Building, and The Angel of Victory. Should you have a suggestion for the Vancouver Icons series please feel free to leave a note in the comments. It should be a thing, statue, or place that is very visible to the public every day.

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2 comments

  1. Tristan Risk says:

    Oooh… with all these Vancouver Icons I want to do a sister series with all Vancity burlesque performers posed in and around these places and objects!

  2. vjm. says:

    Thanks for using my pic, Rebecca! Very flattered.

    vjm.

next »
Fan Expo Vancouver: Lou Ferrigno
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The Roast of Terry David Mulligan