Iterations

From May 1-31, 2010, I exhibited a selection of work from Iterations, an ongoing collaborative project with Tori Foster.


The four exhibition prints are shown below. Each limited edition print is available for purchase in 24” x 96” and 12" x 48" sizes. Please contact me for more information.

Eleven Home Depots, Southern Ontario (2010)


Seven Essos, Toronto (2009)


Eight Best Buys, Southern Ontario (2010)



Nine Beer Stores, Southern Ontario (2010)

Iterations is focused on repeated built forms and their surrounding environments. Each panorama is comprised of several photographs that are composited through transparency overlay. For example, Seven Essos, Toronto consists of seven different Esso gas stations in the city of Toronto superimposed on one another, creating a juxtaposition of the common and the unique characteristics of each scene. Resonant elements, such as the bright red canopies over the pumps, constructively interfere, while inconsistent elements, such as the pavement markings and the surrounding environments, resolve in an inchoate and ephemeral manner. The subject matter of the completed work shown above are branded structures; the subject matter of work currently in production includes street furniture (Eight Streetcar Shelters, Spadina Avenue Toronto; Seventeen Sugar Beach Chairs, Toronto) and urban and suburban housing (Eight Low-Rises, Regent Park; Thirteen Single-Family Homes, Markham).

Iterations privileges ubiquitous forms of urbanity; it is a method for deriving archetypes through the accumulation of formal information. These composite moments also reveal how our visual world is organized around these architectural anchors by conflating the self-reinforcing narratives of repeated built forms with the unique circumstances of their occupation and of their surrounding environments.

On April 24, 2010, Iterations was the featured on Serial Consign.

On February 21, 2011, Iterations was featured on The Online Photographer, as part of a conversation about Corrine Vionnet's Photo Opportunities.

Selected work from Iterations has also been exhibited at Gallery TPW as part of Photorama 2009, Photorama 2010, and Photorama 2011. At Photorama 2011, we exhibited a new piece, shown below. In March 2013 this piece was auctioned off as part of Project 31, OCAD University's annual fundraiser.

Eight Streetcar Shelters, Spadina Avenue, Toronto (2011)

In December 2013, the piece above and its companion were featured in the 10th anniversary edition of Spacing magazine, as shown below. 

Ethnographic Terminalia

From November 18-22, 2013, Lindsay Bell, Tori Foster and I are participating in a residency and exhibition in Chicago curated by Ethnographic Terminalia.


Ethnographic Terminalia is a curatorial collective that hosts an annual exhibition of international artists and researchers working at the intersection of art and anthropology. This year's exhibition   Exhibition as Residency—Art, Anthropology, Collaboration is organized with the generous support from the Arts Incubator in Washington Park and is scheduled to coincide with the 112th Annual Meetings of the American Anthropological Association also taking place in Chicago.


We will also be delivering paper presentation at AAA entitled Visualizing Canada's Urban Arctic as part of a panel on "Visuality in Multi-Modal Communicated Ecologies: Theory and Method at the Intersection of Linguistic and Visual Anthropology." Below is our abstract.


Visualizing Canada's Urban Arctic

Lindsay A Bell (University of Toronto), Jesse C Jackson (University of California, Irvine) and Tori Foster (OCAD University)

In the last fifty years, the circumpolar world has moved from periphery to center of international policy and public culture. Climate change debates, global interest in northern resources, and questions of arctic sovereignty have drawn international attention northwards. Increasingly public awareness and understanding of political and social concerns regarding ‘the North' are mediated by visual information. Specific visual technologies produce distinct ways of picturing and talking about the north thus defining and delimiting the terms of debate with respect to arctic social, political, and economic change. As most global citizens never travel north of the 60th parallel, circulated ideas and images of circumpolar life are vital to how social and political challenges take shape in public culture. This paper presents a series of visual products (moving and still images) of Canada's urbanizing North made explicitly with the intent to see how visual representations of circumpolar life shape what can and cannot be said about northern social worlds. The work applies information visualization techniques developed by artist-researcher Jackson to Bell's long term ethnographic work exploring natural resource development, northern labour mobility, peri/urban livelihood in Canada's Northwest Territories. Currently in the process of video recording the visual works' reception by multiple publics, we ask how to closely attend to linguistic data vis-à-vis intentional visual ecologies. New data visualization techniques are our platform for asking larger theoretical questions about representational strategies and the various challenges and merits new media offers the social sciences in general, and linguistic anthropology in particular.


Pari Nadimi Gallery

My fine art practice is now represented by Pari Nadimi Gallery in Toronto. I'll be having my first solo show there in fall 2014.


Two of my collaborative pieces with Tori Foster will be shown at the Pari Nadimi booth at Art Toronto, October 25-28. These pieces have been produced with the support of the Ontario Arts Council.

University of California, Irvine


As of Septemer 2013 I am an Assistant Professor of Electronic Art and Design at the University of California, Irvine.

Please click here to read more about this appointment.


8 Best Buys, Orange County, California (2013)

Visualizing Canada's Urban North



How can new visual representation techniques and technologies inform our understanding of urban life in Canada’s arctic?

  
Visualizing Canada’s Urban North is a research collaboration with Lindsay Bell and Tori Foster. We are pursuing a body of research-creation that informs our understanding of circumpolar urban life. Through the production of a series of visual texts – composite still and moving images derived from digital capture – the research tracks the consistencies and curiosities that define northern urban landscapes in several communities in Canada’s artic. The research illustrates the structures of use and occupation in northern urban environments that either connect or distinguish these spaces from their southern counterparts.

 

Research Context

In the last fifty years, northern Canada has moved from the periphery to the centre of national attention. Policy realignments, global interests in northern resources, climate change debates, and questions of arctic sovereignty have drawn our gaze northwards. Both at a distance and from within, our understanding of the environmental, sociopolitical, and economic concerns that define ‘the North’ are mediated by visual information.

While northern landscapes are often depicted as pristine and isolated, a range of external processes and pressures (e.g. military exercises, new shipping routes, mineral exploration) are producing northern locales that are increasingly part of the interconnected global world. This shift has contributed to the rapid urbanization of the north after the 1960’s, and to a striking disconnect between the public imaginary and the lived reality of northern life.

Visual technologies produce distinct ways of picturing the north, and define and delimit the terms of debate with respect to environmental, sociopolitical, and economic change. As most Canadians never travel north of the 60th parallel, circulated images of northern life are vital to how its challenges are understood.

 

Collaborative Team

Lindsay Bell (University of Toronto) is an anthropologist with over ten years of experience in circumpolar North America. Tori Foster (OCAD University) and Jesse Jackson (University of California, Irvine) are artist-researchers whose existing bodies of work explore novel representations of space and time in urban settings. 

 

Project Description

Visualizing Canada’s Urban North will create visual information products that communicate underrepresented elements of northern urban life to the Canadian public. Blending theory from visual anthropology and political economy with innovative information visualization techniques developed in media art and design, the research investigates and expands the role that visual information plays in our understanding of Canadian arctic communities.

The research tracks the consistent patterns and anomalous curiosities that define the urban landscapes in several arctic communities, including Yellowknife, Iqaluit, and Hay River. In capturing the structures of occupation that either connect or distinguish these spaces from their southern counterparts, such as repeated built forms and patterns of movement, the research illustrates how these environments affect and define peoples’ sense of place and community. The data visualization techniques produced by this research also provide a useful platform for asking larger theoretical questions about the merits and challenges that new media representational strategies offer the social sciences.

 

Overlay Methods

Overlays are experimental methods that simultaneously capture the unique and reoccurring elements of a landscape. In diverging from standard documentary practice (whether photographic or ethnographic writing), these methods explore the analytic capacity provided by contemporary information visualization practices applied to issues in the social sciences. The Overlays proposed by Visualizing Canada’s Urban North are generative: they act as a visual platform from which to broaden existing public conversations about northern development.

 

Time Overlays

Time Overlays are composite images that represent the experience of time at a specific site as a single still image product. Each composite is created through the compilation of a linear sequence of information derived from time-lapse photography. The composites are, at first glance, indistinguishable from conventional still photographs, but the information they contain represents the occupation of and interactions within a space over a length of time. The amount of time ranges from several minutes to several hours, depending on the subject matter. Each Time Overlay incorporates dynamic information from 16-32 instances, thus presenting, simultaneously, parallel experiential narratives: the actions of any featured protagonists do not account for the presence of neighbors in time. The method reveals the vitality of the space under scrutiny and creates surreal representations that begin to suggest its defining characteristics.

 

Space Overlays

Space Overlays are composite images that represent the experience of repeated built forms found at multiple sites, again as a single still image product. This repetitive information might include tract housing, portable trailers, branded structures, sidewalks and roads, commercial and industrial equipment, parked vehicles, and other urban infrastructure specific to the north. Each composite is created through the transparent overlay of six to twelve photographs. Consistent elements reinforce each other through repetition, while inconsistencies, such as the surrounding environment and human subjects appear ghost-like. Space Overlays privilege ubiquitous forms of urbanity found throughout a single urban environment or across several urban environments. The method reveals how our visual world is organized around architectural anchors, by conflating the self-reinforcing narratives of repeated built forms with the unique circumstances of their occupation and of their surrounding environments.


Moving Overlays

Moving Overlays are composite video products that combine the qualities of the composite images described above. They can potentially conflate information from both space and time, though they most often focus on one or the other. For example, a time-focused overlay might describe the influence of an external mechanized event, such as the passing of a train, on the movement of people and vehicles. This type of event typically produces an undulating effect on the spaces' inhabitants: activity in the space shifts from static to active in a repetitive rhythm, revealing both the archetypes and the outliers of pedestrian and vehicular movement.



Visualizing Canada's Urban North is supported by the the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, and the Centre for Information Visualization and Data Driven Design established by the Ontario Research Fund.



Making it Real


Making It Real is a juried exhibition of digitally fabricated objects organized by OCAD University faculty members Jesse Jackson and Greg Sims, with the assistance of technology innovator Gregory Phillips. The exhibition takes place May 14-28 as part of the Toronto International Jewellery Festival and coincides with the Society of North American Goldsmiths' 2013 conference, Meta-Mosaic. Virtual objects will be submitted electronically from around the world and “made real” locally using a variety of 3-D printing technologies. Making It Real will showcase innovative designs for jewellery, products, fine art, and other small objects that take maximum advantage of direct digital manufacturing. Students, professionals, and creative individuals working in all areas of small-scale digital design and fabrication are encouraged to participate.

Automatic / Revisited



From January 19 to February 16, 2013, I installed Automatic / Revisited at Latitude 44 Gallery. This exhibition is part of Toronto Design Offsite, Toronto's annual festival of design. Automatic / Revisited summarized two bodies of work created in collaboration with Luke Stern.

Automatic / Revisited Left Side (2013)

Automatic / Revisited Right Side (2013)


Automatic / Revisited is an ongoing exploration of the physical creation and philosophical implications of experimental unit-based construction systems.

The first part of the installation, Automatic, deconstructs and reconstructs the assembly of concrete blocks used by American architect Frank Lloyd Wright in a series of 1950s family homes. With these homes, Wright demonstrated how a system of modular architectural units could be designed in advance of the building in which they were to be used, and how these units could produce not just one but a remarkable variety of compelling buildings.

The second part of the installation, Revisited, reinterprets Wright’s intentions and forms. Just as Wright responded to design imperatives of his time, this evolution responds to contemporary desires. By employing the logic of an existing computer graphics algorithm, a new system of concrete units was developed with greater creative freedom and environmental performance than Wright’s original conception. Again, the system does not anticipate any specific building, instead suggesting a variety of possible end results—or even multiple end results, as the new system is designed for disassembly and reassembly.

These construction systems each permit buildings that are responsive to specific sites and programs. Similarly, the installation responds to the gallery’s dimensions and the location of the audience: the repeated symmetries and opposing placement of the Automatic and Revisited systems creates a dialogue between two progressive ideas in architecture, past and future.

Toronto Design Offsite documented the opening of the exhibition here. Many thanks to Tori Foster, Roderick Grant, Gene Mastrangeli, Genevieve Scott, Geoffrey Turnbull and Nancy Wilson for their assistance with the installation.

A set of slides about this body of work can be viewed here.

A paper about this body of work was presented at ACADIA 2012.



Timespace

Timespace is an ongoing body of work (2007-present) comprising of composite images that represent the experience of time at specific sites as singular still image products. Timespace is an example of the Time Overlays method.

 
Timespace: Tom and Lucas at Eleven Hepbourne Street (2010)

 Timespace: Luke Stern in the Jester/Pfeiffer Residence (2008)

 Timespace: Cao Chang Di (Construction Corner) (2008)

 Timespace: Cao Chang Di (Times Square) (2008)

 Timespace: Cao Chang Di (Main Entrance) (2008)

This post was created in support of a Social Science and Humanities Research Council Insight Development Grant application, submitted January 2013.

Figure and Ground

From May 5-22, 2011, I exhibited Figure and Ground with Derek Flack at the Gladstone Gallery. This exhibition is part of CONTACT, Toronto's annual month-long festival of photography.


Eight images from this body of work are shown below. Each limited edition print is available for purchase in 50" x 50", 36” x 36,” 18" x 18" and 9" x 9" sizes. Please contact me for more information.

75, 100, and 150 Graydon Hall Drive, Toronto (2011)

35, 43, and 47 Thorncliffe Park Drive, Toronto (Rideau Towers) (2011)

2600 Don Mills Road, Toronto (Hunter's Lodge) (2011)

10 Edgecliff Golfway, Toronto (2011)

7 and 9 Crescent Place, and 102, 104, 106, and 108 Godwood Park Court, Toronto (Crescent Town) (2011)

110 and 130 York Mills Road, Toronto (2011)

655 Broadview Avenue & 10 Hogarth Avenue, Toronto (Montcrest Apartments) (2011)

40 Godstone Road, Toronto (2011)

This project began in May 2007 when I exhibited Landmarks and Monuments: Residential Complexes in Toronto’s Urban Periphery at the Larry Wayne Richards Gallery. At that time, I described the work as follows:
The residential complexes in the periphery of Toronto are definitive landmarks: markers of boundary and locality, points of orientation, representations of an instance and turning point in time, and structures of compelling historical and aesthetic interest. Their monumental significance is belied by a lack of conscious popular awareness of their presence and status. By presenting these buildings as consequential architecture, I aim to stimulate discourse about their role in our city.
Images from this growing body of work have formed the visual basis for a large number of tower apartments neighbourhood renewal initiatives over the past four years. This unanticipated but welcome adoption and use fulfills my artistic intent: to stimulate discourse on the role of Tower Neighbourhoods in Toronto, creating the opportunity for the consequential nature of these sites to enter the popular consciousness.

The new images shown above will serve as a launching point for a book project on the topic of Toronto tower apartments. The work featured in the book will be disseminated through a variety of media and distribution methods, including public exhibition at non-traditional venues (e.g. shows in tower neighbourhoods) and facilitation of the work’s use in future scholarly and public outreach initiatives (e.g. publication-ready image packages).

This ongoing project is important because it creates visibility for the subject matter, making it familiar, accessible and emotionally affecting for scholars, design professionals, artists and the public. It also serves an important documentary function, cataloguing this ubiquitous buiding type at a pivotal moment in its history.

On May 12, 2011, I presented this body of work at the second Tower Neighbourhood Renewal Symposium. The poster from this presentation is shown below.

On May 18, 2011, this exhibition was featured on BlogTO.

An image from Figure Ground was exhibited at Gallery TPW as part of Photorama 2012.


Constellation

In August 2010, Luke Stern and I entered Constellation in the Sukkah City competition.


The text of our proposal read as follows.
On a typical night in New York City, most constellations are missing: light pollution is an unfortunate reality in today’s cities, resulting in bright but starless night. During the 10 days of Sukkah City, we propose a series of unique installations -- Constellation -- that will regenerate the missing stars.

Constellation is a modular system of lightweight elements constructed of contemporary schach: composite products comprised of renewable or recycled celluloid products. These sustainable building materials reinterpret the Sukkah in a contemporary context. Constellation’s eleven unique components can be flexibly assembled into a nearly infinite variety of enclosures, each of which satisfy the Sukkah’s constraints and creating a remarkably fluid interior space.

Each morning, a team of volunteers will assemble Constellation into a new configuration: the ancient patterns of the night sky will govern its formal evolution. The installation will reveal, through a precisely aligned aperture, the spot in the sky where specific stars were once visible. These missing stars will be made visible by harnessing the city's excess luminance to backlight a pinhole screen.

By recreating the missing stars, Constellation will bring the delight and wonder of the cosmos back to the heart of New York City. Unlike online maps and global positioning systems, these ancient navigational beacons do more than just identify our coordinates: they help us contemplate our place in the universe.
This proposal was an evolution of our Master of Architecture thesis project, Fabricating Sustainable Concrete Elements.

BlocKit

In July 2010, Geoff Turnbull, Gavin Berman and I entered BlocKit into the Open Source House competition. Excerpts from our competition panels are shown below.

Automatic Revisited

On April 23, 2009, Luke Stern and I successfully defended our Master of Architecture thesis project at the University of Toronto Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Design, entitled Automatic Revisited: Fabricating Sustainable Concrete Elements.


Our thesis abstract summarizes our intentions:
The constructional elements of a building are normally considered components in service of the greater architectural endeavor. Yet elements are also design problems: direct consideration elevates them from the conceptual role of passive expression to that of active contribution, and calls into question their accepted form, function and materiality. The desired qualities of a complete building -- firmitas, utilitatis, and venustatis -- are the same as those desired in a constructional element, suggesting that elements warrant evaluation beyond their ability merely to be organized creatively: the architecture of the element is itself architecture.

We have developed a family of modular armature elements that permit a large degree of formal variability using a small number of discrete parts. These elements emerged as a contemporary response to Frank Lloyd Wright's Usonian Automatic project, an early exploration into the constructional element as a parallel design exercise. The Automatic system provided a point of departure, and prompted a new set of concrete forms that respond to contemporary sustainable criteria, including maximal architectural freedom, optimal environmental performance, and minimal life-cycle costs. Through an open-ended collaborative problem-solving process, we developed several prototypes; through full-scale fabrication, we tested the validity of the prototypes in confrontation with reality.

A selection of images from our final presentation is shown below.











Two images of our final installation are shown below.



In 2010, this project was published in the journal MAS Context.