arts and design

Art works to be beamed on to giant screens in central London

Work by artists including Marina Abramović will be shown in London next year on what is being billed as the largest digital canvas in the world.

Details have been announced of an art programme on a truly spectacular scale, involving 2,000 sq metres of 8K resolution, 360-degree screens near Tottenham Court Road tube station.

The artist Marco Brambilla will curate a programme of public art which he hopes will have an appeal similar to the ambition and excitement of Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall.

“At this scale I don’t think there is anything like this in the world which is so exciting,” he said.

“Once it starts, hopefully it will become like the Turbine Hall. Think of those epic installations which we all remember like Olafur Eliasson’s Weather Project and Bruce Nauman’s sound installation. The ambition of it is to create a series of installations similar to that.”

The screens are part of a £1bn commercial redevelopment of the Denmark Street area of central London. The street is nicknamed Tin Pan Alley and was once the beating heart of the capital’s music scene. The project, called Outernet, includes retail, bars, restaurants, offices, flats and a 2,000-capacity underground music venue – the biggest new live music space created in London since 1940.

The centrepiece will be a cube structure with the screens showing immersive advertising and promotional stunts but also art, which is where Brambilla comes in.

He said the work on show might be provocative or spectacular but there would be times when it would be very intimate.

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One of his first commissions will be work by Belgrade-born Abramović, a superstar of the contemporary art world and a pioneer of performance who has been using her own body, testing the limits of her physical and mental endurance, for more than four decades.

Final details have yet to be hammered out but one work on show will be an exclusive version of The Seven Deaths of Maria Callas, in which Abramović re-enacts opera deaths. Her appearance will coincide with the opening of her delayed and much-anticipated show at the Royal Academy of Arts.

Marina Abramović.
Marina Abramović. Photograph: Gisela Schober/Getty Images

Other plans include showing Bruce Conner’s film Crossroads, which uses unreleased but declassified footage from the US hydrogen bomb tests in 1946 at Bikini atoll.

Brambilla is also creating a digital readymade work himself, involving a five-storey high photo-real metronome.

He said the technology opened up opportunities “to show digital work at a resolution which is almost lifelike, it’s like a window in a way, it is so sharp”.

He added: “The technology just keeps getting better and better and I think it’s got to the point where the technology is not part of the conversation, it becomes about whatever material we want to show.”

The redevelopment of Denmark Street, due to be completed by the autumn of 2021, will also include free-to-use recording studios and dedicated busking spots.

A boutique hotel will be created in properties which were once home to the Sex Pistols, with developers pledging to maintain Johnny Rotten’s graffiti.

Philip O’Ferrall, the chief executive of Outernet Global, said he was excited about the possibilities “our epic canvas of screens” presented. “Outernet Arts is about creating somewhere works can be displayed that is inclusive and accessible for everyone,” he said, “and Marco is the perfect person to lead all of this. He is inspirational and a true creative visionary.”

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