Unhanded – building a conversation about making in the 21st century.

August 24th, 2016

How do we talk about making physical things in the digital age? What frames of reference do we use to understand the change around us? Through which lenses do we look through to understand the creative landscape we are in?

What is our role? Artists thinking about research…

April 27th, 2016

Our most beloved manifestos define the present in a way that we can grasp. The powerful manifestos of modernism appear as short, sharp, passionate shouts. They reduce reality to a simpler structure that we can perceive as a whole. They appear in magazines and little printed books. They sum up the world to just the right size so that action can be itemized and pinned to its door. The 21st century intellectual, however, is not built for the construction of a good manifesto. We traffic in complexity and rely on the belief that the world cannot be reduced to a form that could be handled by a public at large. We are the professional interpreters of the world through our instruments and technologies. From critical theory to quantum field theory, with the craft of language and the Large Hadron Collider, we believe that we reveal, if not truth, then at least truths in the plural. We have, in fact, multiplied truth and meaning. We fill books, libraries, server rooms and now data centres with a multiplication so staggering it is impossible to see what is happening in the world let alone what matters. Data centres are filled with these overwhelming and unstable truths, much of which is proprietary and armies of engineers seem unable to assess its structural integrity. It is not, however, the multiplication of truth which should be held responsible for its instability. Truth has always been unstable. The multiplicity of truth has been essential not for destabilization, but to reveal the inherent instability of truth.

This is the primary tenant of our claim to the condition of now – that the truth is, and always was, unstable.

This, then, is the challenge of our manifesto – to build it on unstable ground.

Does innovation in culture and commerce mean the same thing?

April 7th, 2016

This past weekend I was honored to be an invited guest at the Canadian Arts Summit hosted in collaboration between Business for the Arts and the Banff Center. The weekend was quite an incredible assembly of cultural leaders, insightful keynote speakers, with senior leaders sharing their depth of experience and a powerful range of emerging leaders presenting their models of working to some of the most important cultural institutions in the country. It was a pleasure to be around such a rich depth of thinking about cultural leadership, and I have returned from their with many critical and insightful thoughts. What follows here is one of set of thoughts about the relationship between the idea of innovation in art and innovation in business … or perhaps better said between the meaning of innovation in culture and commerce.


December 14th, 2015

Made was a project connecting emerging designer and artists to learn both hard and soft skills in cultural production. Below is a recap of the project by participant Samantha Bite. The project kick-off began the beginning of June with a number of full day workshops to allow the six young artists and designers to get […]

The driving questions of Artengine

June 13th, 2014

Should we ask ourselves how much comfort our productions and programming offer? How much support to an existing social and political structure to we provide? Or perhaps the inverse question, can we ask of our projects how much disruption or revolution or even democracy do they make possible? Even those projects that successfully create a mystique of discomfort or even terror provide this wrapped in the idea that the artist is in control or at least that the artist is in control of the machine…

Uselessness: a serious consideration of nothing in particular

May 22nd, 2014

This video is a thoughtful exploration of the concept of uselessness as it relates to architecture. In an attempt to reconsider strong hold that utility has in our understanding of value or worth, both in practice and language this audio-visual presentation imagines what might be lost in a world of only useful things. It is […]

Language and the city

July 9th, 2013

A recent conversation on Twitter got us thinking about how to bring thoughts about langauge and the city into our We Make The City! Poster project. We would like the people of this city to help us translate “We Make The City! We Are The City!” into as many languages as possible. We started with our francophone friends around us, and Tom Fortington and our critical writer in residence Melody McKiver got us thinking about a translation into Anishinaabemowin. How many more can join the conversation?

Towards a democratic city

May 30th, 2013

On the occasion of the Creative City Summit I was given a short platform at the local Pecha Kucha Night. I took the opportunity to present a very short critique of the Creative City concept. Below are my slides for the presentation.   This talk is basically a collage of ideas from (at least but not limited […]

We Make The City!

May 30th, 2013

We Make The City! We Are The City! is a love letter to the city and a call to action. We are moving the festival into the public terrain because we believe it to be fertile and exciting grounds for diversion and discourse, but we are also asking the citizens to redefine how they see themselves, and thus the city around them. The city is not a fully formed structure delivered to you for consumption, but a constant evolving project in which you participate. You are the city around you and the city is you.

We are not a creative city! (Part 3)

August 14th, 2012

This is the third installment of our tête-a-tête with Cultural Planner and artist Kwende Kefenste.

My catchy title might betray what I would like to be a more constructive discussion. Kwende has usefully unpacked the crossroads of cultural planning and creative city branding for us to consider the creative class concept in a wider context. What this broader view highlighted to me was more about the general nature of theoretical analysis, rather than specific issues with Richard Florida. Theories about the city, like Florida’s (or Jane Jacobs/Ebenezer Howard/Le Corbusier/…), are extremely important as innovative filters for understanding a complex world. However, the world we act in is not a theoretical framework. The gulf between theory and reality is wide and challenging to cross. Messy reality is filled with tension and compromise of all kinds. What I would like to talk about in this post is navigating the reality of a specific place; the role of art in guiding that navigation, and most precisely the role of cultural organizations and cultural practitioners building those routes with the people of that place.