Despite the innovation brought by the new word art installation invested in the subway system, the Toronto Transit Commission has decided to shut it down. This is due to the rising criticism from the public. The transit provider is the one who approved the artwork and a funding worth $500,000 was invested into it. The installation gives the public the freedom to enter short messages on the display which is seen at the new station. The installation is no longer operational because many worry about the fact that it can be used to display profanity as well as hate speech.
With the decision, many are questioning whether free speech as well as public space was utilized properly. There are also debates regarding how the offensive rhetoric should be handled – is it worth blocking it or should it be challenged when it comes?
The spokesperson of TTC, Brad Ross, said that they have the responsibility as well as the task to make sure the environment inside the subway is not just safe but welcoming as well. The new installation was not used yet and may stay that way until they have found a solution to the issue.
According to an artist who has made many interactive projects in different cities said that there is a very slim chance of misuse and if it happens, the public will be able to counteract without a problem. During the decision making process of the art installation, a consultant was part of the committee and TTC knows about the project they are funding. In fact, the station architect did not expect the decision from the organization.
The Pioneer Village Station where the word art was installed was designed by Will Alsop. He said that the installation aims to give people an animation while they wait for their train and it is an interactive method by which they are using the subway station. Light Spell is the name given to the word art installation and it remains to be dark as of the moment. This can be seen from the new station until the Vaughan station where an extension was constructed.