Posts Tagged ‘future’

Now at MOCA (Museum of Contemporary Art) is the exhibit “Age of You”. Part of the show is “The Extreme Self” based on a forthcoming book by Shuman Basar, Douglas Coupland, and Hans Ulrich Obrist, of the same name.   Large panels covering two floors of MOCA, lead the viewer through the storyline using graphics, pictures, and a lot of words.  Other works by other artists can be seen among the panels but the panels definitely dominate the space.

Why the title “Age of You”?  What is that all about?  As we increase are use of technology and our dependence on it, our data seems to have become important.   Information about our habits, likes & dislikes, online behaviour, etc. is now a valuable resource.  Our profiles and data can be used to create a model of  ‘you’.   Google knows where you’ve been if you have a smartphone.  They also have an advertising profile for you ostensibly so they can target their ads.  (Check the ads that they insert into these blog posts).  This technology advances faster than our ability to adapt to both it and its consequences.

below: “You’re now becoming your extreme self… and it’s happening to you as you read these words.

large panels hanging in an art gallery, MOCA, three panels. In the miiddle is a large picture of a woman's face with a single tear. Also some words. On the right is Too stupid to fail. On the left

Technology and its effects on people, individually and collectively, has been discussed since the advent of technology.  Often it is the negative effects that are discussed the most.  Today, we use the word “disruptive” to describe companies such as Amazon and Uber, companies that use technology to change the way we do business, and the way we interact with other people, and the way we go about our daily lives.

As I was thinking about technology and its effects, I remembered the Marshall McLuhan quote, “Every technology necessitates a new war”. When I looked up that quote (to make sure my memory was correct), I found this as well: “‘Any form of continued and accelerated innovation is, in effect, a declaration of war on one’s own civilian population.”

below: “We’re now deep into the terminal phase of democracy.  This phase involves voting in leaders whose primary goal is to dismantle democracy.”

large panels hanging in an art gallery, MOCA, Too stupid to fail,

below: Four panels. Four ideas in words in pictures.  “Groups of people make dreadful decisions.” “The majority can no longer be trusted.” “Democracy needs morning after pills.” and finally, on the right, a few sentences on the breakdown of reality-based consensus.

large panels hanging in an art gallery, MOCA, four in black and white

The exhibit references a quote by Isaac Asimov : “Anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.’   But, can’t this be extended to ‘my scribbles are just as good as your fine art?’ And then along comes social media with its anonymity and global reach …. 

So what does all this mean for the future?

Is it art?

One can’t deny that it is thought provoking but part of the reason I asked, “Is it art?” is because of the heavy reliance on words and text.  It’s a book hung from the ceiling.  It also relies on quotes and ideas that originated elsewhere, words that that the artists have collected, not created.

Text is considered to be a design element but words have the added quality of conveying meaning.  Some images carry symbolism but only words can be manipulated into phrases and sentences with different meanings.   There seems to be a trend that involves the use of more text in art.  Art is now a “teaching moment”, like an essay (or book) laid out in a format that suits a gallery.  It’s not enough to be just looked at but it has to be educational too.

The next few pictures are from Vincent Meessen’s exhibit “Blues Klair” now on the Power Plant gallery.  It doesn’t deal with future like Coupland et al. above, instead it’s more a link to the past; it’s a history project.   This is the first paragraph of the words on the wall at the entrance to the exhibit:

words on the wall accompanying an exhibit by Vincent Meessen

A plea to all writers of such words:  Please stop. We’re not stupid but we’re also not ‘experts’ in the latest jargon and this just goes over our heads. …. I found a video on youtube of Vincent Meessen talking about this exhibit – and now it makes more sense.  It’s still a history project though.  It’s also a case, again, of the artist turning a collection of other people’s work into ‘art’.

two people looking at framed pictures and pages of text on a wall that has been painted in blue and white squares

blue and white papers strewn over the floor, discarded, with a framed picture on the wall, and a blue desk in the middle

Jumping back to the future – jumping to Hito Steyerl’s exhibit “This is the future” at the AGO to be more specific.   She too uses words.  And multimedia.  And she too pushes the limits of what art is.  (Or can you argue that those limits are long gone?)

below: Two parallel stories, one on top and the other below.   The upper story is about a community where windows are purposely broken, “people are smashing windows tirelessly to generate power”. The other story tells the opposite, windows are left alone and “police with big wooden horses are guarding every window”.  It turns what we believe about society upside down – the ‘good’ people who don’t break windows are living in a gloomy police state.  The ‘vandals’ have sunshine and art.

room at the Art Gallery of Ontario with words written around the walls, and a flat screen TV laying a video in the middle of the room

below: Hell Yeah.  Well okay then, if you say so.  It probably says a lot about me and/our times when my first impression is that it would make a great background for an instagram photo.   There are other blocks of words too (not in the picture) and the whole sequence is Hell, Yeah, We, Fuck, Die.  Why these words?  They are the “five words that have appeared most frequently in the titles of songs in English-language music charts over the past decade”.  And yes, I looked it up.

large blocks, lit from inside, put together to form the words the words hell yeah

And yes, I checked instagram….  The “L” does make a perfect seat!

composite of three photos of people that have been posted on instagram showing them at the Hito Steyerl exhibit hell yeah we fuck die at the Art Gallery of Ontario

Five words.  What do they mean? What five words would you use?

 

‘Age of You’ continues until 5th January 2020.

‘Blues Klair’ is at the Power Plant until 5th January 2020.

‘This is the future’ ends on 23 February 2020

Just before Dupont Street ends at Dundas West, it passes under a set of railway tracks…
and of course another underpass means another mural.

It is an Art Starts project “honouring the Junction and paying homage to its industrial past rooted in the railway and celebrating its development as a diverse neighbourhood oriented community. ”  Lead artists Joshua Barndt and Jamie Bradbury along with 5 youth artists took 4 weeks to complete the mural.

mural on a concrete wall beside a sidewalk, just before the road goes under an underpass - large purple triangel, drawing of a locomotive and a couple of gears

The mural was funded by the City of Toronto’s Graffiti Transformation Program.

mural on a concrete wall beside a sidewalk, just before the road goes under an underpass, gears, plus a stylized industrial machine in black and blue

mural on a wall showing a picture of worker in a hard hat, reaching upwards, standing on a pile of bicycle wheels.

mural on the wall of an underpass, in the Junction, on Dupont, a line drawing of a railway car, with a large blue bike superimposed on top of it, a person holding a stop sign,

Cycling is used as a theme and as a way of traveling from the past to the future in the mural.

mural on the walls of an underpass, orange metal bridge, mural of cyclists riding their bikes

mural under a bridge of people riding bikes

a wall of an underpass curves as it exits the railway bridge. on the curve is the continuation of a mural that was painted on the walls of the underpass. Windmills and bikes.

mural on a curved concrete wall, beside an intersection, showing windmills with bike parked in front, and a forest with some animals in it, fox and wolf

below: The final panel in the mural, a future friendly city.

part of a mural, the word city is used to make a futuristic urban scene in blue tones. The future is friendly.

logo of two black gears side by side with the words Art Starts written across the middle of them. a small graffiti painting of a girl's head with a heart above it

Along a short stretch of Coxwell Avenue

Upgrades to Coxwell subway station include work on the north side of Strathmore Blvd.  Two murals were created to brighten the hoardings around the construction site.  Both murals are the work of a program called ‘City on the Move – Young Artists in Transit’.  If you use Coxwell subway station you can’t help but see these murals as they are right across the street from the entrance.

below: ‘Today Reassembling Yesterday’ shows people standing within a miniature old East York.  On both sides of the mural is a replica of a Hollinger Bus line ticket.  This bus company was founded in 1921 by John Hollinger and it serviced the growing neighbourhood of East York.  By the time the TTC took it over in 1954, Hollinger had 96 employees and a fleet of 56 buses that traveled twelve routes on such streets as Woodbine, O’Connor and Coxwell.

mural in front of a construction site, the tops of two brick houses are visible behind the fence, a large green crane is working at the site

below: In this mural, five panels are covered with wallpaper of pictures of the past.  Residents, the present day, peel back the layers of the past to reveal their visions and hopes for the future.  On the left, red barns and hay stacks make way for solar panels over fields with bird filled skies.  The next panel is also inspired by agriculture – healthy corn fields and other crops under a layer with horses and stables.  The middle panel puzzles me.  I’m note sure what the pictures on the brown paper represent but birds in a tree are under it.  The fourth panel suggests accessible public transit.  Lastly, cars and trucks make way for rivers to fish in.

A mural of kids peeling away layers of wallpaper with pictures on it.

‘New Revelation, at Coxwell’

a poem by George Elliott Clarke, Poet Laureate of Toronto 2012-15
to accompany the mural at Coxwell station

As wallpaper peels to windowpanes, spy
Grass, insurgent, urging all our future
Is Spring: Sunlight sparks sweat and dream; wind drives
Machines. Thrilled, birds wing and sing so sprightly,
Everyone delights. Blossoms float perfumes.
Branches brandish emerald bouquets. Our lungs
Flood with surging airs, clean as chlorophyll,
Mint-new, mint-tangy, so song is born,
Just by breathing. Wheels become our earthly
Wings, so infant and elder, builder and
Dreamer, can flit – transit – through the city
As public millions that public millions
Uphold, so that the lame, too, can take
The air and wheel down to creek, stream, and lake.
Suddenly glittering, afresh with fish.

The TTC also owns property on the southeast corner of Coxwell and Danforth.  Back in 1915 this facility was built as the Danforth carhouse for the streetcars that ran along the Danforth.  When the Bloor Danforth subway line opened in 1966, these streetcars were retired and the carhouse was converted to handle TTC buses instead.   In 2002 the Danforth carhouse (or Coxwell Barns) was shut down.  Some of the property has been sold off but the TTC still has a presence there.

below:  Along Coxwell Avenue, south of the Danforth, there is a fence that separates TTC property from the street.  It was a typically drab TTC concrete barrier.  Recently it was painted by a group of volunteers.  The word ‘transition’ now pops out at passersby from a colourful mural designed by Sean Martindale.

Transitions written in block letters in a large geometric mural that matches the grid of the concrete that makes up the fence

close up of the letter N and part of S in the Transitions mural on a TTC fence on Coxwell ave.

Transitions written in block letters in a large geometric mural that matches the grid of the concrete that makes up the fence

If you walk a few more blocks south on Coxwell, you will come to a fence where many butterflies have stopped to rest.

two wood butterfly shapes that have been hand painted by kids and then attached to a chain link fence around a school playground.

They share a fence with a few creative owls wisely made out of recycled materials.  Tin cans, CDs, buttons, bottle tops, corks, paper clips, sunglass lenses, clothes pegs, foil plates, and bits of plastic repurposed.

 

four owls made of recycled goods, foil pie plates, CDs, bottle tops, there feet are wrapped around twigs and they are attached to a chainlink fence

owls made of recycled goods, foil pie plates, CDs, bottle tops, there feet are wrapped around twigs and they are attached to a chainlink fence - two corks for horns

owls made of recycled goods, foil pie plates, CDs, bottle tops, there feet are wrapped around twigs and they are attached to a chainlink fence - also blue buttons for the nose

below: A little red fairy door, home of the Earl Haig gardener.  This past summer there was a project called  Danny’s Urban Fairies.  Fairy doors that were hand crafted by local artists started appearing in stores and parks along Danforth East  (from Jones to Westlake).  Some of the fairy doors remain but many were auctioned off in November to raise money to support the non-profit East End Music Project.

A little red screen door, fairy door, at the base of a tree with two little signs. One sign says Earl Haig gardener and the other says Do not litter.

below: No bows and arrows allowed!

old sign on the exterior wall of a school that says: Playing of golf, hardball, handball, bows and arrows prohibited