If you've travelled along the Arbutus Greenway in Kitsilano recently, you've probably noticed a series of five eye-catching billboards, brightly papered with timely, thought-provoking statements.
For example, "Doing nothing is very different than having nothing to do to."
The man responsible for the displays is Douglas Coupland, the renowned British Columbian novelist and visual artist—the same artist responsible for the Digital Orca sculpture located beside the Vancouver Convention Centre, the Golden Tree at Marine and Cambie and the Terry Fox Memorial in front of BC Place, to name just a few.
The new billboards display a selection of Coupland’s “Slogans for the 21st Century."
Shortly after the pandemic struck, Coupland began "retooling some classics for Instagram," as he explained in a March 20, 2020 post.
"Don’t mean to be a bummer. These are all from a project that began in 2011 and somehow they seem to have been activated by 2020. I’ll post something funny next," he wrote under one graphic that reads, "You know the future is happening for real when you start feeling scared."
Since, his Instagram feed has been plastered with these types of phrases, appearing in simple lettering against bold backgrounds. Some are hilarious, while others—though written pre-pandemic—feel eerily predictive. For example, "It's probably for the best we're all online instead of being outside and wrecking everything"—"[f]rom 2013," as Coupland explained in the caption—or, "Bored people crave war," from 2011.
The project that's seen some of these slogans displayed on Kitsilano billboards is a collaboration between Coupland, Pattison Billboards, Kim Spencer-Nairn and McKinley Studios, an integrated design firm based in Vancouver and Calgary.