Olympic Project Brings Art To Bus Stops

Bus Tops commissions nine artists to display digital work on the top of bus stops

Bus stops are to become gallery spaces with Bus Tops, a UK-wide digital art project that will see art displayed on the top of bus shelters, only visible from the tops decks of double-decker buses. The project is funded by the Arts Council England in collaboration with Transport for London (TfL), with nine professional artists set to have work displayed.

One of the first artists to step forward to the challenge is Turner Prize-nominated artist Mark Titchner, confronting commuters with a series of 31 motivational slogans designed to prompt readers into action – try ‘Act or be Acted Upon’, or ‘If you don’t like your life, you can change it’. For the artists, these function as free month-long self-improvement programme, while also experimenting with ‘the way language can communicate meaning’, and the way in which meaning cannot be created within language itself: ‘In a way the slogans are entirely empty so they need people to actually apply them to their lives to really mean anything.’ The various statements will be controlled by online curators, with the images changing according to routes and times of the day.

Furthermore, it’s not only big-name artists who are to have a chance to exhibit, with member of the public able to submit their own artworks for consideration on the Bus Tops website.

Alfie Dennen, Artistic director at Art Public, the organisation behind the project, explained how the idea was to challenge conventions in public spaces and inspire bus travellers: ‘It was a project we always wanted to do, we knew we wanted to work with bus shelters but we really didn’t anticipate getting [the bid]’. Not all people are welcoming the project, with TfL already having had a complaint about the ‘Act or be Acted Upon’ slogan. But Dennen celebrates this friction: ‘that’s the kind of initiation to dialogue that we invite, that’s pretty awesome actually. However if that person is reading this, I’m sorry if you were offended’.

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