A Visual Reference for a New Year Project

a mason jar of spare nails and screws from my grandpa's shed

Based on a conversation at our last meeting on Thursday morning, I think it’s safe to say that we’re going to start on some new projects in January focused back on Windsor. Seeing at this mason jar was at the core of our conversation, it seemed like a good idea to post it on here, maybe as a starting point.

Also, Happy Holidays.

Blasbichler’s Twenty-One

Architect Armin Blasbichler recently presented 21 of his architecture students at the University of Innsbruck with an interesting and secretive assignment. His students had been assigned to “pick a bank in the city, study it, identify its Achilles’ heel and plan a bank robbery.” I’ll include the assignment statement below because it is incredible.

“The task: Develop a bank robbery plan for a bank branch within the city limits of Innsbruck. Use only information you find out yourself. Your alter-ego is your team mate, listen to what he/she says. Do not tell bank staff who you are and what you intend to do. Identify weak points of the chosen bank branch. Develop a concept to detract assets from the bank according to the weaknesses identified. Include action-, time-, and escape plan in a paper document of 70x100cm of size. Use graphic design techniques and text in order to provide a viable instructions manual document. Calculate or estimate the potential loss of assets.”

Via: We Make Money, Not Art

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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

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Let’s Colour Project


It’s called the Let’s Colour Project.

Ok, it’s an advertisement for a paint company, and  it strikes me as being a pretty bad idea (in a long-term perspective, I kind of cringe when I see brick buildings painted here in Windsor). Inevitably, a bit history is being completely lost by painting over these walls.

However, the video is stunning and if for a moment we can forget the parts of it that make this a possibly poor long-term choice,  it does get my imagination going thinking about how we could repaint blocks of concrete in this city.

Danielle pointed this out to me.

Save the City: an overview

The Save the City project aims to create a concentrated series of positive community-based activities facilitated by Broken City Lab in collaboration with community members. The project will address a number of issues and ideas specific to Windsor, Ontario through various collaborative community-based activities. As Windsor is situated in precarious economic, cultural, and geographic positions, the Save the City project will serve as a much needed injection of positive collaboration, engagement, and dialogue with the city itself and its diverse communities.

The objectives of the Save the City project are to prompt and initiate creative solutions for social change within Windsor through direct connections between emerging artists and community members. Save the City will focus on the process of creative and artistic practice extending into the community and the everyday, selecting and inviting a range of collaborators and participants from within the many communities of the City of Windsor.

The Save the City project will bring together emerging artists and city residents to imagine and prompt creative social engagements and civic activation. Within the project’s series of five activities, the content of each activity will be based on a creative interaction with a part of Windsor’s current and historical social, economic, and regional culture.

Below is the schedule of events (with some details still to be announced):

January 24, 2010 – Listen to the City : Community storytelling workshop to brainstorm, uncover, and share your personal histories of Windsor  (Phog Lounge, 157 University Ave W, 8PM)

February 28, 2010 – Sites of Apology / Sites of Hope : Social Mapping event of the places we need to apologize for and the place we need to care about (362 California Ave, 1PM)

March – Sing to the Streets : A celebratory parade of French history, singing French Folk songs to French Streets (meet at Pelissier and University)

April – Things Worth Saving : Help us to document the thousands of things worth saving in this city, we’ll turn them into free postcards to send out to other cities (362 California Ave)

May – How to Save a City : Community think tank / artist talk / open forum, asking how in the world do you save a place like Windsor (TBA)

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

Detroit UnReal Estate Community Lab

Detroit UnReal Estate Agency

Detroit UnReal Estate Agency has been making some considerable headway in their project that aims at “new types of urban practices (architectural, artistically, institutional, everyday life, etc) that came into existence, creating a new local ‘normality’ and a new value system in the city of Detroit.

For a while, I had some difficulty in pinning down exactly what the Agency was doing—certainly, they were doing research and writing on Detroit and its history and current conditions and putting up custom real estate signs  indicating specific unrealities. Beyond that though, I had some difficulty in understanding what the project was, likely limited by my own capacity in keeping up with their site and a fluctuating amount of posting ranging from solely photographs to heavier lengthy texts.

However, they’ve recently been very active again, no doubt thanks to the visit of their Dutch counterparts. They’ve recently published on their blog, a new strategic plan of sorts. Their most recent post reads, “One plan we’re working on now is a combination of a new masterplan + a cooperative ownership system + a business plan – A Community Lab.

This is incredibly exciting! Crisis leads to ingenuity.