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New Public Art: Old Hollywood Video Installation at Fire Station 82

If you find yourself walking or driving by Fire Station 82 in Hollywood this weekend, and see a black and white images of classic Hollywood projected in the window, you've just seen the city of LA's latest public art installation. It's part of a project that took more than eight years to come to fruition, and is now available for public viewing Thursday through Sunday nights, from when the sun goes down until just after midnight, at Fire Station 82 in Hollywood (Van Ness and Hollywood Blvd near the 101).

The City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs commissioned the public art project by video performance and installation artist Robert Drummond, who has created an interior vertical glass design, made up of historic Los Angeles photographic imagery, and a street-facing LED panel that displays clips from historic silent films interwoven with original shots by the artist. The entire project is located atop a three-story glass stairway structure at Van Ness and Hollywood Blvd.

It's a unique public art project that's a natural fit with the city, so we wondered why it took so long to actually go live. The answer, from the artist, is a mix of municipal bureaucracy and the city's fight against billboard blight, which the billboard industry has always pitched as a free speech issue, often using artistic expression as a way to cover fight regulation. Here's how Robert Drummond describes the battle to bring this project to the people...

The City of LA established an anti-video signage (as well as anti-mural) ordinance in March of 2009 because of the blast of LED Clear Channel video billboards that rolled into town. This meant putting my project on hold as the city created a moratorium on projects such as this one. I then worked with the City of LA Department of Cultural Affairs as they worked to rewrite this ordinance to exempt artworks… A few more years roll by. When we received the green light again, the permanent project needed to be cleared and permitted through the Los Angeles Dept. of Building and Safety. This took another three years of meetings and engineering drawings contractor specs, etc. After many rounds, and years, of engineering, video production, fabrication, LED automation and working closely with the Los Angeles Fire Department, endless amounts of film licensing agents, lawyers and studios, we kept the dream alive and delivered the project...

Please enjoy these photos of the completed installation, and remember to check it out in person Thursday through Sunday night at Fire station 82.

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