100 Emergencies for North Bay (Projections in Downtown)

Thursday night, our last night in North Bay as part of our residency, we did a large-scale public projection as a kind of summary of our conversations, and as a bit of a starting point for where we see the exhibition going. Almost next door to the White Water Gallery is this huge blank wall — the perfect surface for projections.

Our old battery is starting to show its age — during a test earlier in the day, we only got about 30 minutes of useable power from it.

Earlier, testing the projector on battery power while compiling a list of emergencies, pulling from Wednesday night’s workshop.

To make up for the lack of available battery power, we ended up stringing together a bunch of extension cords (courtesy of Kathleen) to the White Water.

We had precompiled the list of 100 Emergencies for North Bay, so we used Keynote.

At dusk around 9pm, setting up the projector.

Danielle, tough and ready to guard the gear. We tried to wait out the lingering daylight for a while, as even with our 5200 lumens projector, the distance and sunset weren’t giving us the contrast we had hoped for inititally.

But, shortly thereafter, we begin … a list of 100 emergencies (invented, emerging, or already experienced) that shape North Bay and might articulate a way forward in thinking about the urgent things that shape the city and community.

Rosina documented with a ton of video — can’t wait to see it!

Danielle watched the gear and struck up conversations with passersby — and this is one of the best reasons to do this kind of work — it creates this really great entry point to conversations we wouldn’t have otherwise had.

As the projection wrapped up about an hour later, we did a few improved slides based on some conversations we had with folks passing by.

Our setup from the edge of the parking lot, on the sidewalk in downtown North Bay.

Quick changes / additions in Keynote.

Then turning our focus across the street for a few minutes.

We had a really great week in North Bay and we’re so excited to start working on the exhibition for September. Huge thanks to Clayton, Eric, Robyn and Kathleen at White Water, and to everyone who came out to our walk, workshops, or talked to us during the projection!

Learning About the Emerging Emergencies of North Bay

We’re in North Bay on a residency as we prepare for an exhibition this fall at the White Water Gallery. After spending Monday getting acquainted with the downtown, we ventured further out. Of course, we had to stop at the North Bay arch. Getting a sense of these kinds of structural parts of the city that have, in a way, become shorthand for the entire geography has been helping us to shape the outlines of the exhibition.

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Announcing CIVIC SPACE (Community Innovation through Vital Interactions & Collaborations)

For more information on CIVIC SPACE and its programming: please visit civicspace.info.

We’re incredibly excited to announce a new initiative that will become the centre of our focus for the next two years.

CIVIC SPACE (Community Innovation through Vital Interaction & Collaboration Space) will launch on Thursday, June 21st at 411 Pelissier Street in downtown Windsor. Supported by the Ontario Trillium FoundationCIVIC SPACE will serve as a hub for our events, public activities, and research around locality, infrastructure, education, and creative practice as a driver for civic change.

This storefront space (once a textile store and before that a jeweller) will soon host new community projects, artist residencies, DIY workshops, public lectures and a range of other new initiatives for the next 24-months. CIVIC SPACE will aim to engage the public in addressing community challenges through new programming and activities that initiate collaborative creative problem solving.

On June 21st at 7pm, we’ll be kicking things off with the Letter Library (A Collection of Alphabetic Interventions). This open community project invites anyone and everyone to come borrow from our letterset to caption the city around them. With Windsor at the edge of so many transitions, how might we collectively reclaim and create our own public narratives about the future of our city through this playful intervention? Anyone participating will be issued a Letter Library Card and will able to sign out 12″ 3D letters from our collection to create their own temporary installation, document it with one of our single-use cameras, and ultimately help to build an archive of new captions for the city’s build environment.

We’ll also be announcing the rest of our summer programming very soon … stay close.

CIVIC SPACE would not be possible without the incredibly generous support from the Ontario Trillium Foundation.

P.S. If you’re interested in applying for a residency, looking to connect for a new collaborative project, or just interested in (finally) making the trip to Windsor, be in touch.

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IN STORE: THE DEPARTMENT

Another installation of In Store by Daragh Sankey covering some of the incredible work that happened as part of our SRSI project a couple of summers ago.

Here’s the overview of this week’s segment on the Department of Unusual Certainties from Daragh:

I basically shared an area with these guys. Like Sara French and of course the Broken City Lab crew, we were all there over the whole month. (I wasn’t actually there the whole time, but came down for the first couple weekends.)

I had to decide in the editing how much of their footage to include – I had quite a lot, because of their long stay and also because of the sheer scale of their ambitions. I had a cut that only concentrated on the speed dating event, but I thought there was a lot of interest that got excluded so I made it what you see now, perhaps sacrificing cohesiveness for scope and … awesomeliness, hopefully.

Here’s a downloadable PDF of the Tip Sheet from the DoUC site.

Vacancy. It’s one of the big challenges for Windsor, as it is for any shrinking city. The downtown has been hit much harder – Windsor is a classic North American “donut city” where suburban expansion and downtown decline go hand in hand. (More on this in an upcoming film.) There are no easy responses, and I hope that my use of end titles will not seem like I’m trying to argue that the Department’s activities in Windsor led directly to a decrease in the vacancy rate. But their recognition that there was a lack of communication amongst store owners, and their tapping into some of the energy that resulted from opening the lines of communication, seemed to be heading in the right direction, at least.

Nothing’s set in stone, but I have probably three more films to go, maybe 4. There’s some really great stuff coming up, so stay tuned!

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Deinstallation of Alive & Well

Alive & Well, our 350 ft long message painted on the city-owned parking lot for the 2011 AGW Biennial and recently captured by Google Maps, is in the process of being torn up to make way for an Aquatic Centre.

We’ll be actively looking for a new parking lot, field, or rooftop to do another large-scale work. If anyone has one to offer, let us know.

Reflections on Circulations

Last Wednesday I hosted an algorithmic walk around downtown Windsor with some University of Windsor Communications Studies and History grad students. The class, led by Drs. Mike Darroch and Rob Nelson, spent about an hour exploring the city, as per the algorithm, in an area between Park and Pelissier and McDougall and Tuscarora. Groups of three spread out throughout the area and stepped through the algorithm in a different order.

The algorithm connected with some readings the class had done on ideas of circulation. It was based on a series of simple suggestions to look for things that disrupt, capitalize, or imagine forms of circulation in the city. At each step in the algorithm, groups had to take a photograph. Below are some images from the walk.

Find an in-between space.

Find an example of urban improvisation.

Find a transaction.

Find a space to occupy.

Find something symbolic.

Dr. Darroch and some of this students on the walk.

Find  an in-between space.

Find something symbolic.

Find an example of urban improvisation.

Find a transaction.

Find a safe place.

Find the heart of the city.

I think this little 8-page booklet format could work well for our upcoming walks. I know we had talked about theming these walks. Any ideas for the first one on the 13th?

 

Circulation: an algorithmic walk in downtown Windsor with students from the University of Windsor

On Wednesday, February 1st, I’ll be guiding an algorithmic walk for Dr. Mike Darroch and Dr. Rob Nelson’s history / communication studies grad seminar. I spent part of the afternoon playing around with some ideas to have the instructions, or algorithms, distributed to the class.

We’ve done walks before, they’ve often been quite ambitious and sprawling. Given the two-hour time slot for the class, I’ve tried to keep this one short enough to finish it within an hour. The class did a range of readings on circulation in the city, so I’m hoping that these instructions will help frame some interesting ways to activate some of the larger ideas in the texts.

I started out with something I figured would be just a 1/4 sheet of 8.5″x11″ paper. Each group of students would start at a different number. I want the students to do the same things, just not all at the same time.

So, then I started thinking about those easy to make foldable books.  I can print off one template and just set the fold different ways to offset the starting instruction. I also decided to put a little fill-in-the-page-number-blank  and a few lines to note the location.

Each group will be instructed to take a photo once they find each of these places / things / situations. At the end, maybe we’ll be able to assemble them into a quick slideshow, or map or something to compare notes, so to speak.

We’ve been talking about doing some fairly regular drifts — maybe this is a good model to work from?

How Walking Around Your City Can Lead to Something Great

By some estimates (including the CBC), there were 100 people on the walk we took on Tuesday night, in the rain, throughout downtown Windsor.

The attendance alone was inspiring, but what really made the experience so incredible for me was the energy that everyone brought. When we stopped and took a moment to briefly talk about the potential of the Downtown Transit terminal, or the Canderel Building’s huge space, or the properties for lease on Ouellette, the old bingo hall, the House, the city’s storefronts on Pelissier, we got excited together. Things started to feel remotely possible.

It’s that sense of possibility that’s so important right now for our city.

At today’s Artscape Placemaking Workshop at the AGW, we heard some really amazing stories about the work at Artscape has done, the work of Bert and crew at AS220 in Providence, things that started as truly small ideas and have since become cultural movements. It’s all possible, we just need to find the time to walk around a bit more often together.

Then, we need to start getting into some space. And, we should be in a space next to one another, or at least down the block from one another, so we can see one another more often, and we can go for walks and imagine more new things. And then, one day, we’ll look back and say, “remember that walk we took with 90-something other people on that really cold and rainy night…”

Sound good?

P.S. If anyone has any photos or video from the walk, I’d love to see them!

Urban Camouflage And The Potentials of Commissioned ‘Street Art’

Ceyetano Ferrer, City of Chicago (Iowa #2), 2006

Street artist Ceyetano Ferrer specializes in blending urban objects into their environments by painting layers over them in a way that makes them seem transparent. Ferrer uses photo stickers on public objects like street signs, boxes and billboards and camouflages them to create an illusion of the objects fading into the landscape. -via PSFK.com

The public art works of Ceyetano Ferrer are quite stunning on first glance. The optical illusion he creates seems at first impossible and mysterious, though the process is as “simple” as placing a well-planned sticker on to a surface. As far as “street art” goes, this very much falls in line with the guerilla style shock and awe that makes the genre so exciting and valuable in a certain sense of subversiveness.

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OPENED/UP: a Walk on November 30th

OPENED UP: A walk through lost, forgotten, vacant, and underused spaces.

For an hour and a half after work on Tuesday, November 30, we’ll be walking around downtown Windsor and getting access to a variety of closed / vacant / underused spaces. Justin Langlois will be guiding it with Tom Lucier and we’re hoping to have a lot of ambitious and excited people out with us. City-owned buildings, privately held storefronts, and cavernous bingo halls are all a part of our route, and you’re invited to join us in imagining a different downtown for our city — one with ample, affordable, and exciting spaces for artists, performers, musicians, and other creative-minded folks. We want to start a real conversation about what it would take to get these spaces filled with people who need them. We want to help give people a reason to be excited about being a practicing artist in this city again. We know that finding space needs to be at the top of that list, and we want to help.

This walk has been organized as part of the Artscape Creative Placemaking workshop being held on December 1st. Artscape, if you’re not already familiar with their work, has brought together and led numerous partners and stakeholders to realize massive studio and live/work retrofits of a variety of underused spaces in Toronto and figured out ways to make spaces for artists not only affordable, but integral to the surrounding neighbourhoods and economies. This walk has been something on our to-do list for a while and Artscape’s workshop just gave us the perfect excuse to do it.

Meet us at Phog Lounge at 5pm sharp. We’ll wind our way through the downtown core and head back to Phog for some food, drinks, and lots of conversation. We really want you to be there, let us know if you have any questions.