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Stockholm’s Metro Transforms into Digital Art Gallery to Combat Commuter Stress

Out of Home
London, UK
Clear Channel's new initiative encompasses over 250 billboards across Sweden's capital
Starting today, more than 250 digital billboards across Stockholm’s Metro will replace ad content with digital art. The initiative aims to help combat commuter’s anxiety by displaying artwork that is created specifically to remedy negative feelings such as tiredness, fear and stress. This will transform the capital’s public transport service into the world’s longest digital art exhibition.

The initiative is launched by leading outdoor media company Clear Channel, who own the network of digital billboards in the Metro. During the exhibition period, the people of Stockholm will experience the art while also influencing it, as the artwork appears in real-time, and changes based on commuters’ emotions. This comes as recent research shows that Stockholm’s population is the most stressed in Sweden. This is a trend which applies in many cities across the globe where metropolitan communities experience stress during their travel to work, particularly in high intensity environments such as Metro systems.

“With over 250 connected screens, the Metro is an amazing arena to reach people. However, it is an intense environment in which we would like to create more positive experiences. Since our screens reach millions of people every day, we have this unique opportunity of using our technology and infrastructure to try different ways to engage with Stockholm’s commuters, for example a new kind of art experience” says Finn Wikander, chief product and innovation officer, Clear Channel Scandinavia.

Stockholm’s Metro is known internationally as the world’s longest art gallery, with paintings, carvings, sculptures and mosaics at 100 stations, spreading across an area of over 110 kilometers. Through this initiative, which sees Clear Channel Sweden activate its network of digital billboards to display art, the city’s Metro will turn into a massive digital art exhibition as well — arguably the world’s longest.

The initiative is named “The Emotional Art Gallery” and consists of six original artworks created specifically to counteract negative emotions. Six international artists were selected and assigned to express a particular positive feeling, including happy, peaceful, energized, calm, loving and safe. Each one is the counterpart to a negative feeling, which will be picked up amongst commuters by a new tailor-made algorithm that uses public data to analyze the current mood of the city and direct what artwork to display at any given moment.

“This is an emotion-triggered art experience, a unique way of curating and displaying the work of artists from across the globe. Imagine walking into a museum where the entire exhibition is adapted in real-time to make you feel good.  The selected artists represent an emerging generation of creatives that primarily work in new digital mediums. For them, a screen like this is a very natural canvas,” says Antonia von Euler-Chelpin, founder of Young Art, a platform for emerging artists that has advised on the selection of artists.

The bespoke algorithm used for this instalment analyzes dynamic, public data within Google searches, social media, news articles and travel traffic information to interpret if people feel sad, anxious, tired, stressed, irritated or afraid.

“All companies follow current news events and trends as research for their communication. So, we thought why not use this type of real-time data as a new kind of creative input, whether this is through art or advertising. It makes the content more relevant and, in this case, better adjusted for spreading joy, energy and love to the commuters, says Finn Wikander.

Clear Channel has a century-long history of working together with local governments to provide sustainable infrastructure and public goods – such as chargers for electric cars or bicycle-sharing systems – in exchange for out-of-home media locations. This art initiative constitutes a new kind of investment into a city and its population, blurring the line between digital and physical public space. It is also reflective of how Out of Home is evolving from traditionally focusing on investing in the hardware of a city - with Clear Channel Sweden previously building all of Stockholm’s bus shelters - to using a city’s available software to create new ways of engaging with citizens.

The digital art exhibition will run from March 7 to March 24 and be displayed on digital billboards throughout Stockholm’s Metro and commuter train system. The exhibition is an independent initiative by Clear Channel and it is carried out in parallel with the Metro’s official art programme.

Among the participating artists are Swedish designer & motion graphics artist Andreas Wannerstedt and Berlin-based artist Susi Sie, who created the digital art installations for the inauguration of the Olympic Games in Rio 2016.