With funding for public art on the University of British Columbia’s Vancouver campus drying up after the mid-1970s, the 2003 installation of Millenial Time Machine by renowned Canadian artist, Rodney Graham, has revived enthusiasm for public art.

The Millennial Time Machine is a 19th-century horse-drawn carriage, converted into a camera obscura (which produces an image that is upside down and reversed). An influential precursor to the modern, multi-lens camera, the camera obscura was long revered as a model of how observation can lead to truthful inferences about the world.

Project Essentials

  • LocationVancouver, BC
  • ClientBelkin Art Gallery
  • ArchitectSuperkul
  • Budget$0.25 million

For this work, Graham focused the lens on a sequoia tree, which grows behind the Indian Residential School History and Dialogue Centre. In this context, the ever-changing image of the tree raises questions about the economy, environment and ownership of land.

Fast + Epp was commissioned for the structural design of the contemporary concrete and glass structure, which houses Graham’s work. The pavilion’s form echoes that of a camera, with the lens-like window on the door and a round oculus in the ceiling, which allows light to enter the space.