Architecture, urban planning, and public policy determine our relationship with the city. Nevertheless, the perception of the urban space varies through different sensory interactions with the built environment. This creates various perspectives on the relationship between the city, humans, plants, matter and contributes to more significant collective issues. As gender theorist Judith Butler emphasizes, “the material environment is actively reconfigured and refunctioned” (2017, p.72) through bodily actions appearing in public space. She deepens that “the material support for actions are not only part of action, but they are also what is being fought about” (p. 73) in the struggle for social, political, ecological and economic justice.
This exhibition and discussion aims to delineate understanding and intervention of site-specific relationships between humans and non-human that occur in the urban environment. How can critical design practices focusing on urban disturbances through sound, residual matters, urban plants, photographic filters, and gender afford new sensory experiences and speculate on urban futures? Addressing these questions, Sensing the City: tangled in disturbances engages with the materiality of the urban and built environments to explore the public space through a diverse range of theoretical and practical lenses. The event presents works and approaches that collect materials on-site and process the results with media technologies; document and translate intuitive walks in the city; and manipulate visual, physical, and auditory sensations and perceptions. These specific methods of engagement result in initiating new potentialities, realities, and relations in the making.
With: Zahra Ahmadi, Brice Ammar-Khodja, Caeleigh Lightning, Avalon O’Henley, Burcu Olgen, Sol Paul, Kevin Pinvidic and guests Carole Levesque and Guillaume Pascale.
Zahra Ahmadi: Urban photography through hand-crafted filters is envisioned as a comprehensive study on photography handmade filters. This project explores whether these filters can bring new possibilities to urban photography and the perception of urban space. What conceptual, sensorial, and visual aspects these filters add to photographs? What unexpected limitations do they encompass? And finally, how versatile these filters can be.
Brice Ammar-Khodja: The Cycles of Attraction delves into le Champ des Possibles (CdP), a former industrial site situated in the Mile-End neighborhood of Montreal. This project engages with the CdP’s contaminated soil, saturated in iron oxide. Cross-examining damaging practices, this work mobilizes magnetic fields to collect ferromagnetic iron particles with a minimal impact on the CdP, and recycles this residual matter to imagine materials and applications enhancing new sensory experiences and interactive objects.
Caeleigh Lightning: Relentless Plants: Medicines in the City is a zine showcasing urban plant life, and their relationship to the city. The project emerges from the documentation of intuitive walks in the Westmount neighbourhood in Montreal. As a new Montrealer, noting and documenting the interactions of native plants, people, and urban environments became a way to investigate the relationships forming in this new hybrid environment.
Avalon O’Henley: (In)visibility is a personal exploration into a gendered perspective of public spaces in a new environment as an immigrant. Investigating what it means to be engendered as feminine, the account is documented through visual ethnography. Making use of mixed media (paper, pen, thread, charcoal, sound, and video) (In)visibility presents itself as a videography project guided by sonic mediations.
Burcu Olgen: Sonic Environments: Sound Sculptures of Montreal aims to reveal the auditory difference between public, cultural, and urban environments by transforming the sounds collected from various places in the city of Montreal into physical forms. Turning sound into three-dimensional objects makes invisible noise pollution visible and creates awareness of this problem.
Sol Paul: Phonicular engages with the Saint-Henri local urban area, navigating a mixture of disruptive to peaceful sounds. Through filtered and reshaped soundscapes, previously banal everyday sound is re-contextualized to create a new sonification of lived environments. Sound is elusive even though it is environmental and allows for unfamiliarity which makes us think more about what we hear.
Kévin Pinvidic: Haunted Infrastructures and possible future(s) emerges from a series of urban explorations fostering sustained engagement with the residual materiality of the Metropolitan Highway (A40, Montreal). Through different processes allying digital and physical spaces, the research speculates on the future of this urban infrastructure. From the transformation of rubbles through the notion of ambiguity and the relational qualities of this site, it results in an inventory of potentialities in the making: collected artifacts, bioplastic experiments, laser cut operations and 3D print objects, digital imagery and data based interactive video.
About the Critical Mediations Series:
A large part of practice-based research transpires in form and in the experience of sensory perception. What happens when the studio and its material practices move to public space? How can research-creation in the making be communicated and experienced? This activity aims at questioning practice in relation to materials and materiality; objects, technologies, media and techniques; and socio-environmental topics. Students will present their projects and research under beta forms, and give a public account of their work and methods. Groups will develop feedback loops between the practical and theoretical ideas catalyzed in the seminar. This format aims at renewing the conditions in which creation takes place, is exhibited, and communicated. The activity will involve workshops, round-tables, and open discussion.