MacKay-Lyons Sweetapple, Canadian Chancery and Official Residence, Dhaka, Bangladesh, 2002-2005, parti sketch

Andrew King + Angela Silver, romalux/tantramar, 2003-2004/2007, two digital video projections

Artists + Architects: Vito Acconci / BGHJ Architects / Ed Burtynsky /
Chris Down /Andrew King + Angela Silver / Thorsten Knaub / MacKay-Lyons Sweetapple / Alison Norlen / PHB Group / Shim-Sutcliffe Architects


29 February to 30 March 2008
Owens Art Gallery, Mount Allison University
Sackville, New Brunswick

The soft city – a city made from a complex network of human relationships
and individual experiences…mapped out by its inhabitants… This is the city
as we imagine it. ~ Jonathan Raban, Soft City

imagineacity…a scribbled etch-a-sketch glowing with stretches of flowing freeways and clusters of neon symbols, commercial strips threading dense patches of pastel suburbs with downtowns and worn footpaths carving vague contours of remnant spaces, highrise corridors of echoing engines and whispering trails of passing conversation that continually rewrite concrete ley-lines marked by long-standing monuments and fleeting memorials.

Every city is a “collage city,” the phrase used by Colin Rowe and Fred Koetter in setting out their theory of urban aesthetics in the August 1975 issue of Architectural Review. Envisioning the city as a constellation of discontinuous fragments and multiple levels of urban reality constructed from disparate architectural elements, artifacts, and allusions, the idea picked up on earlier conceptions of urban space as infused by memory, perception, and experience, bringing them into the repertoire of architectural aesthetics.

imagineacity offers an accumulating archive of urban “charts,” artistic explorations of space that have reconceived these intangible elements of urban space, reworking concepts such as Walter Benjamin’s itineraries and convolutes, Guy Debord’s theory of the dérive, and Michel de Certeau’s spatial stories, to reveal the ways the connections between people and place are fluid, continually made and re-made. Artwork is interwoven with material from architectural design process – sketches, drawings, blueprints – reinforcing the imaginative and speculative texture
of within even the most durable architectural surfaces and built realities, compositions that map ideas onto space to offer a sense of the city as open and always emergent.

Thorsten Knaub, GPS Miró, 2007, urban intervention, data animation, GPS unit, custom programming

In the “collage city” constructed here, all architectures are permeable, at once material, cultural, and metaphorical. Each element re-imagines the bigger project of the city, and the way architecture shapes and historicises social experience. Weaving spectres of the built environment that emerge through the intersection of architecture and imagination, imagineacity draws attention beyond formal spaces to suggest the consistency of the city as at once real and intangible, material and fantastic, concrete and paper, planned and poetic.

Public reception & projection of student architecture proposals @ 7:30 pm, Friday March 28th, 2008

Curated by Shauna McCabe and presented by the Owens Art Gallery in conjunction with the Centre for Humanities and Arts Research in Transdisciplinary Space (CHARTS), Mount Allison University, with the support of the Canada Council for the Arts and the Marjorie Young Bell Endowment Fund.


in process

Chris Down, laying out projection for urban warfare

Students talk with architect-artists Andrew King and Angela Silver about their new work.

This week, we are in installation mode for imagineacity, an exhibition that looks at the interface of artistic and architectural design processes at the Owens Art Gallery, Mount Allison University. On site are Andrew King and Angela Silver, Alison Norlen, and Chris Down. King and Silver have created a new work based on local urban elements to complement romalux, the digital video piece created in the context of their Prix de Rome prize residency in Rome in 2004. Alison Norlen is creating a new site-specific installation of drawings and wire maquettes that play with the idea of familiar and forgotten "useless architectures" in urban follies, and will workshop ideas with participants in the Architectures for Creativity seminar. Chris Down has been creating a wall-scale painted site-specific installation, urban warfare, based on an image of a table top model of a futuristic city for the game "WarHammer 40,000." Woven with these and other art works are a series of installations of architectural representation in the form of sketches, blueprints, and plans, suggesting the shared imagination of space that underlies both realms and the thoroughly social, cultural and ephemeral character of contemporary built and visual landscapes.


contemporary + built + environment: a public seminar

Andrew King + Angela Silver, Romalux, 2005, installation, Stride Gallery, Calgary

Michael Awad - Grand Canale, VeniceMichael Awad, Grand Canale, Venice, 2005, digital chromogenic print, edition of 8, 12 x 96 inches

Tuesday February 19 @ 7:30, Mount Allison University hosts a public seminar on contemporary engagements with the built environment, featuring presentations by artists/architects Michael Awad (Toronto) and Andrew King + Angela Silver (Calgary).

Moving architecture into broader investigations of public space, Awad, King and Silver have developed distinctive approaches to built environments and urban design/planning through projects that probe the dynamic intersections of art, architecture, and culture. Addressing their architectural and creative practices, the presentations and discussion will take place at the Owens Art Gallery on Tuesday, February 19 at 7:30 p.m. and everyone is welcome to attend.

This seminar is presented by the Centre for Canadian Studies as part of a mini-symposium addressing issues related to art, architecture, urban design and Aboriginal culture from February 18-21, 2008

The presenters:

MICHAEL AWAD is currently the chair of the board at the InterAccess New Media Art Centre in Toronto. A trained architect, Awad is well-known for his on-going artistic endeavours and academic research in the field of study "Aboriginal Urbanism." He examines the complex relationship between Aboriginal culture and modern urban design. An adjunct professor at the University of Toronto, Awad's research was recently endorsed by the Architectural Dean's Council to incorporate it into the curriculum of Canada's ten architectural schools. Awad's art practice in photography has also made him a known name in the art world. His photos are part of the Art Gallery of Ontario's permanent collection and he has been commissioned to produce work for the Pearson International Airport and the Department of External Affairs. Awad was also recently featured in the publication Canadian Art.

ANDREW KING and ANGELA SILVER's collaborative work has explored contemporary urbanism and the relationship of the body to the built landscape through multimedia architectural installations. An architect, author, critic, curator, and educator, King has been a recipient of both the Canada Council for the Arts Prix de Rome (2003-04) and an Award of Excellence from Canadian Architect, with work published in several national and international publications. He has held adjunct positions in Canada and in Europe and is currently a visiting lecturer in architecture at Carleton University. Silver is an interdisciplinary artist whose work has been exhibited both nationally and internationally. Her performative work has been presented recently in New York and at Toronto's Nuit Blanche in 2007.

While at Mount Allison, all three will also meet with students in several disciplines. Michael Awad will meet with students in Fine Arts, Geography, English, and Canadian Studies, while King and Silver will work with students in Fine Arts and Geography, and will involve interdisciplinary students in the Architectures for Creativity project in the development of new work they are creating in Sackville.

Michael Awad's visit to campus is sponsored by the Centre for Canadian Studies and the Department of Geography and Environment. Andrew King and Angela Silver's participation is sponsored by the Centre for Canadian Studies as well as the Centre for Humanities and Arts Research in Transdisciplinary Space.


creative construction

A symposium exploring creative engagements with urban space and challenges of cultural infrastructure, The Creative Construct: Building for Culture and Creativity, will take place in Ottawa from April 28 to May 01, 2008. The work of Architectures for Creativity will be presented there as a component of the dialogue surrounding creative engagements with urban cores.

The international symposium organized by the Centre of Expertise on Culture and Communities at Simon Fraser University and the City of Ottawa will examine the role and potential of cultural infrastructure to support and further culture and creativity in cities and communities. Delegates include cultural planners and policy-makers, civic leaders and elected officials, and educators and urban theorists interested in sharing ideas and learning about the latest innovations and developments globally. Workshops and panel discussions will address such themes as convergences of culture with industry and science, urban renewal, and alternative financing and partnership solutions in the cultural sector.

For further information visit www.cultureandcommunities.ca


house as monument and memory

On the invitation of Mount Allison's new VP Student Affairs, Ron Byrne, Colville House on Mount Allison's campus was the location of Architectures for Creativity symposium on February 5th. With its history as the residence of artist Alex Colville, this offered a particularly good opportunity to look at architecture as a layered record of cultural representation, official narrative, personal experience and public memory.

The production of space through cultural representation is inevitably more complex than simple. Artistic and literary images have often served as sources of spatial meaning and symbolic value, as have historical narrative of events, sites, or figures which lend themselves to commemoration in the form of public monuments. And yet architecture is lived as well, spaces invested with personal memory, experience, and interpretation.

First published in French in 1957, and translated into English in 1964, Gaston Bachelard’s
Poetics of Space is a philosophical meditation on the pursuit of such symbolic and archetypal meanings in architecture. “We are far removed from any reference to simple geometrical forms,” Bachelard wrote in a chapter entitled “House and Universe.” “A house that has been experienced is not an inert box. Inhabited space transcends geometrical space.” Undertaking a “topography of our intimate being”—of nests, drawers, shells, corners, miniatures, forests, and above all the house, with its cellar and attic, rooms and garrets —Bachelard began a systematic study, what he called a “topoanalysis” of these spaces so poetic and familiar they become integrative, reconstituting the dispersed elements of our lives, and of being.

Considering Gaston Bachelard's emphasis on the experiential and phenomenological, participants "excavated" traces of the Colville House as dwelling-place, and the memory embodied in built form. Since 1978, Colville House had been transformed into a student residence and was renovated more recently in 2001 and yet original details like the corners, nooks, arched windows and doorways, shutters, fireplace and curved staircase still exist. The rubbings and sketches produced evoke memory in an inventory of details and suggest the depth of spatial imaginary of the built environment more broadly.


subtle sackville

In advance of a workshop with artist Eleanor King on the creation of audio walks, on the evening of Tuesday January 29 students walked through Sackville, using ideas developed in the tradition of "psychogeography." We all make our way through the spaces around us everyday, but theorists from Walter Benjamin in the early 1900s to Guy Debord and the Situationists in the 1960s, and Michel de Certeau in the 1980s emphasized that walking through urban spaces could also be a tactic allowing us to see and understand our surroundings in new ways. The Situationists described this practice as psychogeography, a big word that essentially simply was a way to get past habit and official descriptions to consider the meanings and more informal uses associated with surroundings. They would sometimes layer a map of one geography on another, creating new encounters with familiar spaces.

Focusing on areas of downtown Sackville, each group was asked to observe elements of public space as they made their way - the distinctive impressions of various areas and of the thresholds between them, what spaces may allow or disallow, and to consider how they know what they know along the way.

sight + sound impressions

front stage/back alleys

monuments and messages

public description and public memory: campus

signs and symbols