Art & Culture My Projects

My (new-ish) monthly column

I recently took on the role of Art & Tech European Correspondent for Akimbo, one of Canada’s most prominent sources for visual art information and reviews. I’ve written three columns so far and enjoy it very much. I encourage you to check out the whole site (if you don’t already).
Lately I’ve written about:
The evolving role of artists in industry, viewed through some historical notes on trends in the US and Canada as well as a recent exhibition at Raven Row in London UK.
The divide between the media art world and the contemporary art world, as a response to a provocative essay on the subject written by Claire Bishop.
The most interesting pieces at this year’s Ars Electronica festival.

Keep an eye on the Akimbo blog for more!

Art & Culture

Do you want a beautiful city?

Photo by Matthew Blackett
Photo by Matthew Blackett

At the end of my talk at Manchester Urban Screens, I proposed a call to action, asking people to “get out their pencils” and write to their local politicians to ensure that art and culture becomes a priority in public space, and that billboard operators are compelled to give over space and time to artists and local communities.

I couldn’t be more delighted, then, with the marvellous Beautiful City initiative in Toronto. The Alliance is made up of 42 organizations, who are collectively proposing the BCBF (Beautiful City Billboard Fee), which “…will hold billboard advertisers accountable for their impact on public space via a charge on each billboard (tax or fee – to be determined by staff), with revenues dedicated to art in the public sphere.”

The possibility of this happening is real! A bill proposing this will go before Toronto city councillors soon. What can you do to support it?

  • Sign and circulate the petition at
  • Join their Facebook group.
  • Attend the International Youth Week Town Hall, tonight, Tues May 5, City Hall, Committee Rm 2, 6:30-9 pm.
Art & Culture My Projects

Schematic: New Media Art from Canada

I’m very pleased to announce that this Friday, November 7th, Schematic: New Media Art from Canada will be opening at [ s p a c e ] media arts in London, UK. I co-curated this exhibition and wrote the curatorial essay.

This show is the second part of a two part exhibition. The first part, Schematic: Eric Raymond was a solo exhibition of Montreal-based artist Eric Raymond at Canada House in Trafalgar Square. This second exhibition is a group show featuring work by Peter Flemming (his work, Canoe, is pictured above), Germaine Koh, Joe Mckay, Nicholas Stedman, and Norman White. This group of artists represents a wide range of practice: emerging and established, from cities across Canada, and treating technology as both a driver of the work and simply another tool.

This exhibition showcases the creativity and technological innovation of artists who also act as inventors and engineers, sometimes intentionally, and sometimes incidentally. The works explore our relationships with technology and also highlight the shifts in direction taking place across international new media practices.

Schematic is supported by the Canada Council for the Arts, Agnes Etherington Art Centre, and the Canadian government (Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade).

The exhibition runs from 8 November – 20 December 2008. For information on how to get to the show and its opening hours, please visit the [ s p a c e ] website. Once the show has opened, I will post my curatorial essay here and post more information about the upcoming catalogue.

Art & Culture

Call To Action

I hereby interrupt my long blogular silence to join the chorus of concerned Canadians who are raising their voices against the Conservative government’s recent cuts to culture.

What’s truly dispiriting is reading the comments on the slew of news articles that have appeared. Small but determined groups of commenters slag off artists in the most vicious way, and dismiss solid evidence that culture spending generates income for Canada and enriches lives. It is also shocking, when navigating through the morass, to witness a near-total disbelief in these tried and tested systems of cultural support that often work as a hand up, not a hand out. (Need stats to support these opinions of mine? Go here and here.) Sage commenters have pointed out that if the Harper government were really interested in fiscal responsibility they would find other, far more significant and costly “boondoggles” to hack away at.

What can be done? As always, it is fine and good to be concerned but unless action is taken, the slash and burn will continue unabated. Guess what — surprise! — it’s not about fiscal responsibility, it’s all about appealing to voters. So get out those pencils and start writing passionate, personal letters to your MP. There are full details on how to do this and further background information at the Council for Canadians website, and additional insightful commentary from John Sobol at his blog.