The Free Paper project

I received an email from JP King a couple weeks ago about a project he did at the fantastic, Whippersnapper Gallery in Toronto. You can read the details about the project at

Here’s an overview of the Free Paper project, as it unfolded last summer:

The paper, developed over the past three weeks has been a labour of love as King has opened the doors to the gallery (though more appropriately thought of as an office) to the public and asked for their collaboration in the creation of a community newspaper.

With a specific interest in our relationship to the objects we purchase, consume, own, love, dispose of, waste and want, King developed a thematic basis to the exhibition that focused on the means by which we value these relationships. How do our relationships with our disposable or hoard-worthy objects compliment our understanding of work, labour and even our connections to the people that surround us. As one of his questions posted on the front window of Whippersnapper Gallery suggestively asks, “Do you get along better with people or objects?”. Similarly, King provided a survey that posed similar questions to potential takers; “What do you purchase that makes you feel guilty?” or ”What is the best thing your parents taught you?”.

Complimented by reading groups of selected texts, public discussions and poetry & fiction writing workshops, the paper has accepted 45 submissions of writing & art. Free Paper is an insight into the creative energies of those around us while asking participants to examine the way in which we mediate our lives – either through money, objects, people and work – and most often all four of these themes.

The FREE CITY PAPER POP-UP OFFICE is a research-center-cum-newspaper-office, with a nomadic residency as a reporting tool of the project. Participants are invited to come by Whippersnapper gallery to engage in open conversation, assist in research, partake in the residency, collaborate on visual materials, and read from the library.

There is a survey to be taken in the office, poster-questions on the windows and throughout the neighborhood, a series of scheduled events, like reading groups, writing workshops, and public conversations!

In thinking about publications, a project space, and pop-up activities, it seemed like a good reference point. Also, the idea of pushing around a person actively typing on a typewriter is hilarious.

A Toolkit for Saving a City

Though we have a lot more to say about Save the City than I’ll attempt right now, you should know that we put together a toolkit that describes the processes we figured out throughout the last five months. We put together a nice one-page fold up list of instructions, so to speak, for how one might take on similar tactics in (re)discovering their city, neighbourhood, block, or apartment building.

Cristina wrote about the process a while back, and the toolkits turned out really, really, really well. Soon, we’ll be posting a downloadable PDF.

The event last Friday was awesome. We had a really good turn out, we got to talk about and see (really for the first time) everything we’ve been doing so far this year all lined up together. Have we come to any conclusions? I’m not sure, but I know that we’ve begun to articulate some of the questions we’ve had for a long time, a little bit better.

We’re hoping to put together a book by the end of the summer about all of this (and by all of this, I mean Save the City). We need to devote some time to really digging into discussing what the project has been and how it unfolded. In the meantime, we still have some billboard space to fill, expect to see some photos of those in the coming weeks. As well, we still need to put together a map for Sites of Apology / Sites of Hope. So, lots to do, and all while we prepare for the Storefront Residencies for Social Innovation!!!

Broken City Lab: Save the City is generously supported by the Ontario Arts Council.

Drawdio: Audio Made by Drawing

Drawdio is a DIY music project by designer jay silver that let’s users draw the instrument of their choice on a piece of paper and play it with their finger.

While possible to use in a variety of  objects, when used with a pencil, the graphite acts as a circuit on the paper, transmitting the electric signal across the drawing to produce a different sound based on the specific form.


If you can get past the sort of hilarious / awkward editing in the video, it’s a very cool and simple design. It makes me curious about the potential for creating some kind of traceable sound-map, what sounds would Detroit’s streets make versus Windsor’s streets? What would happen if you added new roads or buildings — what sound could that make?

[via Designboom]

Alley Bunting

alley bunting

An random chance to catch up with Laura, Sam, and some other folks I hadn’t seen for a while turned into this quick intervention.

As part of their OH! C.N.A.P. fun, they had made a lot of bunting for another party they had to attend, but it seemed too great to not temporarily put up somewhere in the city. So, in the alley next to Phog, the bunting was quickly strung up with the help of staples (after some difficulties with the wind), and really was an great example of what’s possible with some paper, yarn, and a amazing group of people.

Check out more photos of the process at Laura and Sam‘s flickr sets, or check out Sam’s tutorial on making the bunting, should you be so inclined to take up a similar project.

A Consultancy Installed

Broken City Lab: A Consultancy

Last night was the opening for a couple of shows connected to the Parking Garage on the corner of Pelissier and Park, including our project, Broken City Lab: A Consultancy. Danielle, Steven, Leesa, and I spent the better part of the afternoon (attempting to dodge the rain) in the space setting up. Along with this wall, Steven set up a Floridian Embassy, and Leesa had a huge number of balloons pushed up against one of the windows and surrounding a small stage.

The work that went into this basically occurred over the last 48 hours. Danielle and I spent Wednesday night drawing, painting, printing, cutting, and gluing, and then Thursday in the space. Thanks to Steven’s bulletin, we had a general idea of how to organize the space, but it was really amazing to spend such a concentrated amount of time working in this way alongside Danielle, Steven and Leesa.

Our projects generally get drawn out, just due to the sheer complexities, unknowns, or relationships that need to be developed to pull them off. In this case, we had the space, we had a rough idea, and we had the support to make it happen.

We’ll plan to be in and out of the space as much as possible over the coming weeks, hopefully adding to the wall, going deeper into brainstorming on the potentials for the entire buildings, as well as just shifting to conduct our general research in the space.

I’ll get some more photos in the daylight soon. In the meantime, you can read a quick one-page statement on the project.

Planning for 406 Pelissier


Danielle and I spent a number of hours last night going through photos of the Parking Garage and starting to imagine new treatments for the infrastructure, space, signage, walls, and streetscape.

We’ll be heading down early this afternoon to start getting all of this visual research up on the walls, with the opening tonight at 8pm, which also features projects from Julie Sando’s Contemporary Visual Culture class in the storefront at 424 Pelissier.

Lots of stuff to hang, plus there will be more throughout the month, as the project continues until June 28th.

Planters Nearing Completion

making planters

The Magnetic Planters project continues. With Michelle and Danielle away this week, the rest of Broken City Lab had to relearn the process of making paper pulp. It was a good night, though we’re hoping to get this project finished in the next week or so. As Intersession begins, we’ll be shifting our Office Hours to another yet-to-be-determined day, and it might even be biweekly until July. We’ll keep you posted.

Continue reading “Planters Nearing Completion”