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October 31, 2013

DEFINED SPACES

Designated Smoking Area vs No Smoking Area
Toronto Western Hospital

October 23, 2013

BARRIE: SIDEWALK AND PATIO EXTENSIONS

As most of my family lives at least an hour bus ride north of the city, I often find myself in Barrie. However that isn't quite accurate of me to say because I'm either at my sister's home or the Barrie Bus Terminal. A few weeks ago I had a half an hour to kill so I decided to walk around 'Downtown Barrie' and finally explore the city. This area sits on Lake Simcoe, more specifically Kempenfelt Bay, which is just a quick walk from Dunlop Street where all the action is happening. There are large, beautiful galleries and performance theatres, lots of small businesses, pubs and restaurants, which isn't out of the ordinary. What I didn't expect and what I saw was a relatively 'hot' urban intervention: a section of the sidewalks extended to give some restaurants more patio space.
The first time I ever saw something like this was in San Francisco. Parklets take over a parking space and in replacement add a public (not private) space where seating and tables can be added. It completely changes the feeling of the street and becomes a more inviting, social atmosphere. Toronto is starting to get our own examples of parklets with the first pilot project taking place on Church Street. This 'new urbanism' intervention is something I didn't expect to see in the suburbs, but its so inspiring that it is. The pictures I've taken are only examples of a cut into parking spaces when restaurant/ pub patio spaces have been extended, but there are also sections where in essence the sidewalk size is doubled. These interventions will be taken down in the winter.
It was such a treat to stumble upon these urban interventions because you can really start to understand and investigate how people use public space. Dunlop Street is a vibrant street, I'd compare it to Queen Street here in Toronto, so by refreshing the public realm there is a new opportunity for people to spend a little more time on the streets, to have more interactions, and to notice the changes around them. Maybe it's just me, but successful or not its a dreamy idea and I hope to keep stumbling upon more of these 'parklets'.

October 22, 2013

SEED HARVESTING

A few weeks ago I attended a workshop on seed harvesting at Markham Museum, which was apart of the Land|Slide Possible Futures exhibition. I mentioned the exhibition here, where I spoke about my participation apart of Buying and Selling. The harvesting workshop took place at The Farm which was built by Andrew Bieler. It was such a magical garden growing everything from pumpkins to basil to mint.
We learned about when is the best time to harvest seeds and how to store them over the winter. My favourite discovery was the nasturtium flower, seen above. From only a few seeds you can grow so much. These bright orange and yellow flowers are also edible, in fact a bit spicy which was amazing. I don't think I've ever spent that much time in a garden like this, harvesting vegetables and seeds and instantly eating them. It was pretty magical. I've saved myself about 15 nasturtium seeds and I cannot wait to plant my first garden next spring.
I also found out about the Toronto Seed Library and the Markham Seed Library, where you can 'borrow' seeds to grow plants. It's expected that you will donate seeds of your new plant back to the seed library, where the cycle will continue. It's such a great way to promote your own food growth and to connect with your community. I believe the seeds are tracked, like the old system at regular libraries, so its incredible to see the generations of your plants and where they grew across the city. Wondering what else you can do with seeds? Check out my friend Kasia's latest recipe on roasted pumpkin seeds.

October 17, 2013

LATELY, IN MOVIES

I've been wanting to see Rust and Bone for a long time for reasons including my love of Marion Cotillard and it seemed a beautiful yet unique love story (I'm a sucker for a love story, but so bored of cliche rom-coms). It didn't disappoint, specifically because the character development and the emotions between them were so real and so raw. I'm still trying to find words to describe what happened in Upstream Color. Manipulation, hypnosis, mind control, pigs. It was very interesting and directed quite well. There was very little dialogue but the images spoke enough.
Selecting Training Day was not my choice and it was... a 'guy' movie, which doesn't justify anything. I kind of laughed the entire time but there were some moments that made me angry. It definitely did not come anywhere close to passing the Bechdel Test. There were no women who spoke to each other. In fact the only time a woman was shown or had a line was if she was being raped (also wearing a school girl outfit and then blamed for her rape) or subservient to a man. Bad bad bad. In drastic opposition yet somehow a perfect movie to pair with Training Day, Miss Representation explores the representation of women in influential positions which can be seen in the media, entertainment, and in politics. Everyone needs to see this movie and start making steps to reduce the negative, dehumanizing ways that women are portrayed in positions of power. Please visit this website to learn more about the organization and to find out how you can watch the documentary!
Keeping up with my endeavour to watch all of Hitchcock's films, I decided to add Rope to the list. It's been on my list since early this spring when my friend Cara was a dancer in a performance called Film: Rope which absolutely blew my mind. This film, to me, is unlike the others I've seen so far (mentioned herehere, and here). The way the camera (and actors) glides across the set to make it look as if the entire movie was filmed in one continuous shot, and what he chooses to show you at certain times for a specific effect was just perfect. Check out this amazing essay that went along with the performance. Seeing as I don't know much about Hitchcock himself I thought it would also be appropriate to watch the film Hitchcock. It was so good I cried - cried because it was so inspiring. Also I had no idea about the incredible relationship between him and his wife. This film only makes me want to devour every single film he has made, even more so then I previously did.

October 16, 2013

DIY: THANKSGIVING FLOWERS

This past weekend in Canada we celebrated Thanksgiving. It's my favourite holiday because of the family time, the amazing food, and the fall weather. We were so lucky with such good weather this past weekend and so I spent most of it in my Nona's garden. We had a big Thanksgiving lunch and so of course I had to make the flower centrepieces, all with pieces picked from her garden that morning.
I picked a variety of leafy green flowers and also made sure to select flowers with a bit of colour. I really love making arrangements that are a bit 'rustic' looking, or that look just as wild as where they were picked from. I also made sure to represent the season by picking (off of the ground) fallen and dried branches. This adds a nice texture and balance with the strong greens.
I found these empty vases in my Nona's garage. I wrapped the tops of them with a bit of twine, also found lying around. They're held in place with a little dab of hot glue, thanks to my Zia. She always carries a lighter and a hot glue stick in her purse for mending things on the go; brilliant if you ask me.
This is exactly why Thanksgiving is the best. Look at all this amazing food, beautiful table setting, and incredible colours. There's nothing like a huge table set for all the members of your family, at your Nona's house. So many amazing memories growing up around this table and in her home.

October 9, 2013

COLLAGE

Here are some more collages from my installation apart of The Noise Project. See the others here. The second image is actually a mirror, and the last a digital collage.

October 7, 2013

THE CITY AND THE SELF

In July I was in an exhibition called The Noise Project, which I spoke about many times. The Noise Project was an exhibition that displayed the work of 25 diverse artists, designers and urban thinkers exploring the concept of 'noise' in Toronto's ecology. It ran at 99 Gallery on July 26 to 27 and was curated by Labspace Studio.
My installation was called The City and The Self. I produced five site specific sound collages throughout the Queen West Triangle exploring the ebb and flow that make up the energy of the city. My collages represent an emotional sonic interpretation of the surroundings in order to expose the listener to a new awareness of the urban landscape; an awareness of themselves within the city and the city within themselves.
The sound collages were made accessible by scanning a QR code and listened to via a smartphone. City landscapes are designed by 'us' and they are built for us, but I feel a disconnect with this big abstract thing we call the city and our understanding of our role within it. I wanted listeners to look around themselves in five very different contexts and to form an emotional connection. I spend most of my time walking around the city projecting my emotions and experiences onto what I see around me. I also do the exact reverse, trying to interpret buildings and places on a visceral level. Understanding landscapes in this fashion will help me to realize why the city is built the way that it is and what we need in order for me to design within it. My intention was to expose these relationships to others who are not necessarily interested in urbanism and architecture, and to reveal that as an individual you are deeply connected to what is around you.
Along with the sound collages, I created a series of handmade collages which hung in the gallery, some of which are scatted throughout this post! These collages represented thematic vignettes which were explored throughout the audio. Please listen to the sound collages below! For more information, visit my portfolio. If you'd like to learn more about the locations these collages are attached to you can reach me here or just comment below. I also invite you to make a guess!


October 3, 2013

BUYING AND SELLING

'There is no choice, except when you have one.' 
- Reena Smith, Community Outreach Officer for 7 Continents
For the past little while I have been collaborating on a new project with Department of Unusual Certainties, Aliya Tejani, and Sara French. Our project is called Buying and Selling and it is apart of the Land|Slide Possible Futures exhibition happening right now at Markham Museum.
The ways we live are complex and diverse. It is our basic needs that unite us as a humanity. How we meet our wants is what separates us. Buying and Selling is an installation that explores the possibilities that exist within the global housing market and how it can enrich the lives of the residents of Markham. What are your needs and wants and what can you imagine for your future? Community Outreach Officer Reena Smith will guide you through the pavilion and help you make the right choice.
Land|Slide Possible Futures is a large-scale public art exhibition which 'responds to a world in transition where the past, present and future collide'. There are over 30 national and international artists (myself included!) exploring themes of multiculturalism, sustainability and community. It has been curated by the wonderful Janine Marchessault
Buying and Selling is located in the historic Strickler home at Markham Museum until October 14. I highly suggest you visit the Land|Slide exhibition! It's a good alternative to Nuit Blanche as it sits on 25 acres of land (see how dreamy it is here, here and here), and the work is very inspiring. There are free shuttle buses from MOCCAmore info here. It's getting a lot of press and is labelled as a must-see exhibition (here, here and here) so catch it while you can!
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