DX Salon Nights: In Conversation

Poster for DX Salon Night with BCL & DoUC

Michelle and Justin head up to Toronto on December 8th at 6:30pm at 234 Bay Street for an interview with the Department of Unusual Certainties, as part of the ongoing DX Salon Night.

Not familiar with the Design Exchange?

The Design Exchange (DX) is Canada’s design centre and museum with a mission to promote the value of design.  We are an internationally recognized non-profit educational organization committed to promoting greater awareness of design as well as the indispensable role it plays in fostering economic growth and cultural vitality.  We build bridges by improving communication between various design disciplines, educators, businesses and the general public through programs, exhibits, lectures, and workshops.

Yes, we’re excited. Hope you’ll join us.

Outside the Planter Boxes

At the end of last month, 30 planter interventions were created by a group of Toronto-based artists, gardeners, and concerned citizens. These individuals each took a neglected planter and adorned it, modified it, or annotated its condition. This statement is made stronger by a collective approach to highlighting the issue of urban engagement.

The following is from the project’s website: “We all have stakes in our shared environments, and this public project directly engages with Toronto’s urban fabric. One of the primary intents of the Outside the Planter Boxes project is to encourage more direct participation and interest in our shared public spaces – to demonstrate that the public can play a more consciously active role in how our city is shaped.”

Via: Eyeteeth: A Journal of Incisive Ideas

Pictured above: Sean Martindale’s Planter

Continue reading “Outside the Planter Boxes”

Janine Marchessault & the Leona Drive Project

Photo by wyliepoon.

A couple months ago I attended a talk hosted by Janine Marchessault on the Leona Drive project, which is a collaboration between The Public Access Collective and L.O.T. : Experiments in Urban Research (Collective).

Justin mentioned the Leona Drive Project back in 2009, but for a refresher: The Leona Drive project commissioned artist projects for a site specific exhibition in a series of six vacant bungalows slated for demolition by HYATT HOMES, a developer in Willowdale, Ontario (in the Yonge and Finch area of the GTA). The artists worked with a variety of media: audio, cell phones with GPS, architectural installation, projection, photography, sculpture and performance for a period of two weeks in the fall of 2009.

Continue reading “Janine Marchessault & the Leona Drive Project”

Talking to Walls: A Conversation About the Public Realm

Thursday night Cristina and I were up in Toronto at Propeller Centre for the Visual Arts, participating in the Christopher Hume curated exhibition, Public Realm.

We did a series of projections with short texts / fill-in-the-blanks that dealt with issues of public and private space, which were generated from the answers to the questionnaires we created, responses on Twitter, and conversations amongst ourselves.

Public Realm is up until January 31st, and there’s documentation of the projections up in the gallery along with a growing collection of our questionnaires with a ton of great answers. If you’re in the neighbourhood, stop by, there’s a lot of great work in the show!!!

After the jump, there’s a photo from all 100 fill-in-the-blanks that we projected.

Continue reading “Talking to Walls: A Conversation About the Public Realm”

Public Realm Questionnaire

We’re participating in an upcoming exhibition entitled, Public Realm, at Propeller Centre for the Visual Arts in Toronto. For the exhibition we’re going to be doing some outdoor projection around the gallery, and we want to have your input!

We want to know what you think about the public realm, and about public and private space, and about what you can do in that space and maybe even, why you’d want to bother doing something in that space in the first place.

To participate, you can do one of two things …

Download this fillable PDF, fill it in and email it back to us, or fill in this form below:

[form 2 “Public Realm”]

We’re going to project all of the submissions we get on Thursday, January 21st, as part of the opening for the exhibition!

David Rokeby’s long wave

David Rokeby's Long Wave

David Rokeby is a Canadian artist who worked for years in new media, creating interactive installations, and exhibiting them around the world (including here in Windsor most recently at the 2008 Media City -curated AGW exhibition). I had the opportunity to work with him on that 2008 show, Plotting Against Time, and he is one of the nicest and most brilliant people I’ve ever met.

More recently, his work has turned to large-scale installations.  2007’s Cloud played with perception through small sculptural elements rotating under a computer’s control.

This year’s long wave is a site specific installation that was commissioned by Luminato, Toronto Festival of Arts + Creativity and was on view at the Allen Lambert Galleria, Brookfield Place, Toronto, June 5 – 20, 2009. It is a 380 foot long, 60 foot high sculpture tracing a helix through the entire length of the galleria.

“long wave” is a materialization of a radio wave, a normally invisible, but constantly present feature of environment. It represents the length of a radio wave in the short-wave radio band, in between the sizes of AM and FM radio waves. In our contemporary wireless environment, populated by tiny centimeter long wifi transmissions, these radio waves are really the dinosaurs of our communications era.

I’m getting more and more interested in larger-scale installations like this that at least in part respond to the architecture in which they are situated. With so many vacant building across this city, why worry about a sculpture garden when we could have an “installations in abandoned factories” tour?

Paying for Art with Billboards


Beautiful City is a new campaign based out of Toronto that is trying to persuade the city to create a tax for billboards that would do the following:

  1. A historical 53% increase to the annual municipal funding available to all artists, festivals and arts institutions,
  2. Close to $100 000.00 dollars for public realm improvement for each Toronto ward, every year — for projects such as greening,
  3. Almost a 1/3 of a million dollars for each of the 13 priority neighbourhoods to fund accessible youth arts programming, and
  4. Hiring 17 dedicated officers to enforce the new billboard bylaw.

The premise of the campaign is that billboard advertising, unlike all other forms of advertising, provides no content to the public in exchange for taking up public space (editorial to advertising ratios for TV is 75/25, for print is usually 50/50 but for billboards is 0 to 100).

Sounds like a fairly genius idea. What other ways could we think of generating new revenue for arts organizations in the city, given the likely continuing or eventual decline of funding for the arts in the city?

[via View on Canadian Art / image of Three Billboards About Love by Peter Fuss]

The Leona Drive Project

The Leona Drive Project Photo by  Ian Muttoo

Organized by The Public Access Collective in collaboration with L.O.T. : Experiments in Urban Research (Collective), The Leona Drive Project took six vacant bungalows set for demolition by HYATT HOMES, a developer in Willowdale, Ontario, and turned them into temporary sites for art interventions.

The project is already over, it was up for just the last week of October, but it looks like it was a huge amount of fun, and obviously drew parallels to our own Indian Road. From their site, “While the curators anticipate several sub-themes emerging from the individual artists, the overall problematic for the exhibition is the remarkable shift from the suburbs of old to the suburbs of contemporary Canada, namely the neighborhoods and precincts of the multicultural, but nonetheless parsed state. As such, the project will interrogate what has been lost in terms of the older identities and utopias, domestic, regional and national, and the concomitant transformations around issues of gender, race, class and what was broadly proclaimed as the good life.”

Late last spring, there was some discussion about putting together a proposal for The Leona Drive Project along with some other Windsor artists / thinkers, but we just couldn’t pull our idea into the right context for the project. Our idea involved working in some capacity with the houses on Indian Road. That idea, along with some other recent discussions about the potentials for other installations to occur on a series of vacant lots or the like, might just lead to something doable. Really, there are so many places around the city that could be the centre of an excellent conversation, we need to start addressing them, so be on the look out, or help us track down some landlords (landlords other than the Ambassador Bridge).

Juxtaposing Windsor’s Auto Plants with Toronto’s Streets


Consider this required reading: over at Spacing.ca, Shawn Micallef wrote about one his more recent trips to his former hometown, Windsor. Driving down Walker Road again after spending much of his time in Toronto walking, a lot, made him realize just how staggeringly huge these auto plants are, and he questions what we’re all wondering—what will happen when these plants entirely shut down?

Go, read it.

Thanks for passing this along, Rod.