Point of View Changes What We See

Despite the fact that it was -14C (7F) and snowing today, I went to see something new. My eldest son had noticed a work of sculpture that he was intrigued by and that he thought I would enjoy. He was right.

On the roof of the Edmonton Transit System’s new Kathleen Andrews Transit Garage are five art works by Thorsten Goldberg at the ends of five rectangular cuboids. They are fascinating because they look different each time you look at them, depending on where you stand.

Motorists see them as they drive on Fort Road to and from the overpass at the Yellowhead Highway. The best view from the southwest is at the top of the overpass. When driving from the northeast, though, you get a better view of the geographic coordinates that are printed on the sides of the cuboids.

I was not able to get a photo of all the coordinates so I used Google to find out what I could. The whole project is called 53° 30’N and each of the topographic models represents a mountain range that is at the same latitude as Edmonton. As it turns out, Google, or Google Maps, was also the artist’s source for the landscapes.

“The models depict locations in five geographic areas: Mount Chown (Alberta), the crater of Mount Okmok (Umnak Island in the Aleutians), Zhupanovsky Crater (Kamchatka, Russia), an unnamed landscape near Dacaodianzi, Heilongjiang Sheng (China) and Mweelrea (Connaught, Ireland). The artistic concept is inspired by what the artist calls the “globe game”- placing your finger on a specific location and rotating the globe to see what other locations lie along a specific latitude.” (Edmonton Arts Council)

The art works are placed on a stark, otherwise featureless, building and the total effect is quite austere. Obviously, this is not to everyone’s taste, but I was taken by the massive scale and the shifting vision, depending on one’s point of view. It seemed to me complementary to the wide scale of the city itself and the vast skies above it.

Today was cloudy and so I did not get the full effect of the sun shining on the metallic forms. I’ll have to go back again on a sunny day.


  1. Fascinating. Thank you for sharing these wonderful photos and stories of Edmonton. You could compile these into a walking tour of your neighbourhood.

  2. I learned about these in a public art class I took last year. I know they are controversial, but I think that is what public art is all about!

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