Subtle Technologies v.13



The 2010 Subtle Technologies Festival came on the heels of one of North America’s worst environmental disasters. Our reliance on fossil fuels and the potential effects of that dependency are currently being seen and heard daily in newscasts and blog posts around the globe. With this latest event fresh in our minds, it was appropriate that we kick off our Festival with a workshop entitled “Junk to Juice: D I Y Power Generation On the Cheap.” It was our pleasure to present this workshop in conjunction with The Learning Zone and The Sustainability Office of the Ontario College of Art and Design. While workshops like this one, facilitated by the media artist Hackett, by no means made us self sufficient energy-wise, these small steps in learning helped us become more conscious of the potential of alternative energy systems while giving us an appreciation of making use of discarded devices rather than quickly jettisoning them to the landfill.

This year, a new addition to our programming is our Community Day. While we strive to make everything at our Festival accessible, we made a concerted effort to make the last day of our Festival interactive and of interest to an audience of all age groups. We hope you take part in some of the hands-on activities planned for this day. Many other Festival events, including the symposium, exhibition and performance/video evening while cruising Lake Ontario will round out this year’s Festival to make it one of our most memorable ever. We would like to acknowledge the generous support of our funders; Canada Council for the Arts, Ontario Arts Council, Toronto Arts Council and The Ontario Triltium Foundation without • would not be possible. We also would like to thank the presenters, partners, supporters, volunteers and our loyal audience for allowing Subtle Technologies to continue as one of the leading international interdisciplinary events. We hope that you enjoy this year’s Festival while discovering new opportunities for collaboration, research, art making and dialogue.

Jim Ruxton, Director of Programming


MAY 29 & 30 | WORKSHOP

Junk to Juice: DIY power generation on the cheap 

Instructor: Hackett

May 29 & 30 from 12 PM to 5 PM
Optional tutorial on basic soldering skills: May 29, 10 AM
The Learning Zone, OCAD, 113 McCaul Street s

Somehow, going “green” has become another vector of marketing, another way to spend money. This workshop addressed that problem by teaching participants to make their own electricity using generators built from trash. The generators will run off simple, non-poltuting, sources, such as waste heat and wind. Of course, these small generators will not replace mains power, so they will be dedicated to powering specific, common objects, like a cell phone or iPod. We started with a pile of junk, and every participant left the class with their own purpose-built genset, and the means and motive to make more.

This workshop was presented in partnership with the Sustainability Office and the Learning Zone at the Ontario College of Art & Design.


Contigent Ecologies: Investigations at the Edge 

May 22 to June 12, 2010
Opening Reception: June 4, 7:30 PM
InterAccess Electronic Media Arts Centre
9 Ossington Avenue, Toronto

Curated by Camille Turner and Michael Alstad

The most innovative, unconventional thinking and solutions often come from the periphery – beyond established structures and norms, “contingent ecologies :: investigations at the edge” presented concepts, ideas and projects by architects, designers, artists and community activists from multiple view points coming together to explore and respond to a complexity of environmental and social issues.

Velo-City, The Green Corridor and the Artic Perspective Initiative (API) are sustainable built environments and concepts represented through layers of media; video, installations, audio, photography and sketches within the InterAccess gallery space. Each project offered a glimpse into the process of the conceptualization of an idea. The exhibition continued online via a blog, offering public engagement and participation throughout the festival. The blog initially featured projects presented in the exhibition and symposium and will then branch out into related territory with additional thematic content curated from online sources.

Head on over to the Exhibition Blog for more.

The Green Corridor 
Noel Harding & Rod Strickland

The Green Corridor was a groundbreaking initiative for generating a green redevelopment of the international bridge corridor linking Canada to the United States. As a gateway to the City of Windsor, the corridor presented opportunities to involve local communities in transforming their environment. Traveling along its 2 km length, visitors experienced a new conception of the urban landscape – shifting from a concrete jungle to a ‘regenerative green zone’ where landscape is emphasized.

The Green Corridor concept was initiated by international artist Noel Harding in collaboration with University of Windsor visual arts professor Rod Strickland. The initiative harnessed the capacity of interdisciplinary and multi-institutional collaboration and includes a team of environmentalists, science and engineering researchers, artists, politicians, city planners, educators, and community residents.

The Corridor engaged local and international visitors with environmentally aware, multi-faceted ‘art and science’ public projects. Projects in development include the Nature Bridge, green roof elevations, an ecohouse, river turbines, environmental monitoring, and many others. Education is a key objective, and each project creates opportunities to educate and inform, both by displaying information and by creating sites for scientific and environmental research. Green Corridor derived its strength from vital partnerships with key stakeholders, including the City of Windsor, the University of Windsor, local area secondary schools, industry, and community interest groups.

The Arctic Perspective 
Marko Peljhan & Matthew Biederman

The Arctic Perspective aimed to raise awareness of the cultural, political and ecological significance of the Arctic and its native cultures. It is part of an international project, Arctic Perspective Initiative, which aims to empower local citizens of the North via open and free media, environmental monitoring and communications technologies. This has seen a group of artists, media workers, architects and designers working with the community of Igloolik, Nunavut, Canada, to design and create a mobile media lab and living unit that can be used to support nomadic lifestyles, living and working on the land away from established settlements.

Powered with renewable energy sources, the mobile media unit enabled film-making, communications, sustainable hunting and environmental monitoring. For example, a hunter living on the land could also film and stream, in real time, their personal story to the internet, giving the world the opportunity to understand the reality of the Canadian Arctic directly from the people living there. The exhibition showcased documentation of the project’s development, including photographs and films from the team’s trip in summer 2009 made with Igloolik elders and Isuma TV, re-visiting former settlements around the Foxe Basin. The Arctic Perspective Initiative was the brainchild of artists Marko Peljhan and Matthew Biederman. The international work group comprised the media/art organisations C-TASC (Canada), HMKV (Germany), The Arts Catalyst (UK), Projekt Atol (Slovenia) and Lorna (Iceland), in a collaborative process working with the Igloolik community, in Nunavut, Northern Canada, to develop the unit.

Head on over to the Arctic Perspective to learn more.

Chris Hardwicke 

Velo-city was part concept, part vision. It was a highway for bikes, a network of elevated bikeways that connect distant parts of the city. Each direction of travel in Velo-city had a separate bikeway tube with three lanes of traffic for slow, medium and fast travel. The separation of direction reduces wind resistance and creates a natural tailwind for cyclists, increasing the efficiency of cycling by about 90 percent and allowing for speeds of up to 50 kilometres per hour. Because of Velo-City’s elevation, it did not require any additional real estate as it can be located in existing highways, power and railway corridors.

Velo-city was a unique form of rapid transit because it is active rather than passive. Velo-city promotes exercise as an urban lifestyle and increases our social sphere. All other modern modes of transit are passive – they take users for a ride. Users of Velo-city understand the value of distance and its relationship to the environment because they put their own energy into their mobility. The value of this mobility is expressed in individual freedom of choice and movement.

Velo-city offered an alternative: a parallel infrastructure that acts in support of other modes of transit. The bikeways are connected to the subway, railway, highway and parking lots, thereby offering more commuting choices. The tenacious bicycle has been around for over 100 years and last year bicycles outsold automobiles in North America. Velo-city simply gives bicycles the same level of dedicated infrastructure that other modes of transportation enjoy.


Subtle Technologies – In Water Colours  

June 5, 7:30 PM Boarding, 8 PM Launch, 12 AM Disembark
269 Queen’s Quay East

In participation with Vtape, this voyage of art and science aboard the Pioneer Princess was curated by Willy LeMaitre.

Highlights include video and performed media by:

Gordon Monahan – recital on Sauerkraut Synthesizer
Zev Asher – Graft vs. Host
Dr. Helene Cyr – aiive In The Water
Vera Frenkel – Once Near Water
Jenn E Norton – Very Good Advice
Gail Maurice- Thirst
Paul Wong- Storm

The program of work presented aboard the In Water Colours art and science cruise did, in itself, constitute a journey. The pollution of the lake breeds an ambient ambivalence towards it in the population that lives by it. This set of psychic facts provided us with the night’s destination. As with the heroes of Poe, Conrad or Verne; the basic conditions and contexts in the heroes’ journey become the intensities that break open new realities. In the water; microbial process are in constant negotiation, in diffidence to human notions of use and sustenance. Anthropocentric metaphors are surpassed, life goes on with or without us. To be on the lake: the phrase doesn’t stay long before the letters start to float away; To e n he ake: o be o th a e: The proposal is to adapt to change with an understanding of how change works, so much is understood now about how it all works. The question of how to adapt is not so much about design but how we participate by implication. The system is not in a vacuum, our actions are inextricably tied to outcome. Presence in itself is action that marks the threshold of process in change. Just as the letters start to float away.

The works are all identified with processes of becoming. In the case of the live presentations; a revealing of the real occurs. Albeit, as mediated representation, it serves as a point of contact with the actual in process and forgoes making statements of a fixed notion of truth. The selection of video works are grouped together in respect to their relevance to water, not necessarily as substance but as a key element to the
integrity of some of our favorite systems.

– Willy LeMaitre

Gordon Monahan’s piece for Sauerkraut Synthesizer  

The uncanny is at play in Gordon Monahan’s work with invented instruments. With their harnessing of impulse from natural phenomena to strange effect, the films of David Lynch come to mind, if Lynch were to employ a microscope to reveal the very strange reality underlying the ultra familiar. Monahan’s invented implement, the Sauerkraut Synthesizer, reduces the living to its base facts of negotiated energy flow and chemical processes.

aLive In The Water  

Live video from microscopic examination and interpretation of microbial life found in samples of the lake water performed by Dr. Helene Cyr, aquatic ecologist at the Ecology & Evolutionary Biology Department at the University of Toronto.

Graft vs. Host: The physiology of a positive post stem-cell transplant reaction  

This abstract visual study of personal sustainability featured double projection along with a five soundtrack/mix. Asher’s performed documentary depicted his own ordeals at the experimental edges of medical science. His approach drew on his accomplished pasts as a documentary film-maker and muftimedia performer. He has undergone a stem cell transplant to cure Leukemia. The treatment uses a matching donor’s stem cells applied to a patient in such a way that the new stem cells replace his old cells. Effectively, the treatment replaced his immune system with that of the donor. A myriad of issues occur; what would become of us with a new set of genes? The elements of a documentary/essay film on a stem cell transplant were combined with a fictionalized depiction of a character’s fall from physical and mental grace in Venice, Italy, circa 2005.

Thirst 2008 

The short video looked at the ‘made in Canada’ catastrophe of a community without access to clean drinking water. In a country with the third largest amount of fresh water, what are the consequences of taking this precious substance for granted?

Very Good Advice 

Locating herself slyly in that world that is “through” the Looking Glass, Toronto-based artist Jenn E Norton inhabits the digital equivalent of Wonderland with her new work “Very Good Advice”. She’s not quite here and yet not ‘away’ either. It was up for discussion. Vulnerable in the way that small urban animals are, she rests in a space of both incipient danger and latent redemption. Will she stay or will she go? Either way, it was a lovely ride, full of lithe humour and visual delight, tempered with the dark side potential for total annihilation lurking, if not on screen, at least in our imagination.


A video recording of a car ride at night in heavy rain. The apparatus of the car, the camera, the computer assisted editing and video playback system become one. Protected by the windshield, a rainstorm’s intensity creates an image dazzling enough to elicit the drool of the CGI freak within.

Once Near Water: Notes from the Scaffolding Archive 2008

This work is about a city cut off from its lake and in trouble, where scaffolding serves as metaphor for both aspiration and loss. Following a chance encounter, Vera Frenkel drew together documentary and fictional elements to create a work about a stranger she barely knew but still finds compelling a collector of scaffolding images – fusing praise and lament into a video ballad for a changing city. The narrative unfolded in an interplay of two voices; a letter from one woman, being read by the other. The work was made in collaboration with composer/percussionist Rick Sacks.


Curated by Lorena Salome

Scheduled Poster Session: 2:30 PM – 3:30 PM, June 5
Exhibition in place June 5-6

The concern over ending the resources of our planet has been around for a long time. But it is in the last 20 years that an emphasis has been put on the sustainability of our environment in rural and urban living. There is an awareness building up that we are living in a system in crisis. We live in a finite planet and we need to be responsible in the use of our natural resources. We have to rethink the ways we design and construct our cities, our farming practices and individual lifestyles among other things. We live in a society of consumption and it is difficult to think of the idea of a society without cities, cars, fashion
trends, technology and agriculture but it is critical to rethink our consumption habits.
The exhibition touches upon some of these urgencies, such as eatable gardens, community garden activism, conscious fashion design, and the interaction between the natural and artificial and their representations. ~ Lorena Salome

Knowmore (House of Commons)

Keith Armstrong
Media artist; QUT, faculty of creative industries senior research fellow (part time).

In an age that has come to celebrate cultural difference KnowMore (House of Commons) considers the urgent need for us to celebrate what we have in common – the needs of all that fundamentally sustain us. This requires us each to envision new ways that connect our everyday life choices with a duty of care over that which is shared by all: The Commons. Within this context the work seeks to interrogate our impulses to initiate research and asks what kind of resources and knowledge will then help us learn that which we will need. It does this by considering the journey from information access via embodied learning towards common empowerment and ultimately action.

Absences – electronic interventions in nature 

Sofian Audry
Artist; QUT, faculty of creative industries senior research fellow (part time).

Absences was a public intervention project that involved electronic objects interacting with nature. Taking shape at the frontier of new media and land art, it proposed a meditation on solitude and association, natural and artificial, interaction and contemplation. In this poster presentation, the artist presented the interventions that were realized in Thailand, Yukon and Quebec and discussed the artistic and technical aspects of the work.

Renewable Initiatives for a Growing Community

Priscila Diaz

“My work is inspired by community garden activism as a sustainable practice. By being part of the community, I am able to observe its needs and take on “renewable initiatives” to help. The worm-sharing kit, aprons and paper are made for the most part of local and reusable materials that with daily use will follow the natural cycle of renewal and eventually fall apart.” ~ Pricilla Diaz

To 2050 

Allison Rowe

The tar sand industry is a massive ever-expanding project that lurks in the shadow of the Canadian consciousness. In an attempt to demystify the process of tar sand processing, this time-based sculpture made use of items from home to attempt and extract oil from homemade tar sand through steam injection.

Evolve Revolve

Kristin Trethewey 

This sculpture used time-lapse photographs of a plant’s growth, which rotated around a circular terrarium encasing the live plant inside. Users interacted with the piece by rotating the sculpture to “bring the plant to life” through the surrounding moving images. It explored the common use of photography between the science and art disciplines and the differences between their interpretations of nature. The project evolved through interactions with professors in the Geology department. These discussions, shared equipment and shadowing their work informed the culmination of this installation.


Amanda White

The FARMY project was a multi-faceted ongoing project focused on urban farming and land use in city spaces. The project consisted of two phases: the war itself and the documentary. In the first phase, small parachute troopers -copied from children’s toys and cast in a clay, compost and seed mixture- were deployed throughout the city. The second phase included the documentation of ‘troop movements’ and ‘engagements’ (i.e. successful seedings).


The Deadly Nightshades

Illustration & graphic design by Deadly Nightshade Laura Mensinga.

The Deadly Nightshades are a Toronto-based midnight bike crew and arts collective combined. Since 2006 they have been encouraging sustainable ethical design, as well as general mischief. From running bicycle led gallery tours, to creating organic & stylish cycling friendly fashions – the Nightshades strive to promote hiking and the arts as an accessible, fun and practical way of life, along with the notion that culture doesn’t have to be void of a conscience.

Indigenous Knowledge, Environment/Sustainability and Education

Deborah McGregor
Associate Professor, Geography and Aboriginal Studies, University of Toronto

Aboriginal people hold ancient and highly developed ideas of sustainability which have significant applicability in understanding current environmental challenges faced in our communities. This presentation will explore concepts of environment and sustainability from an Anishinabe perspective. As an Anishinabe woman, I will present my view that not only do Aboriginal peoples have knowledge around environmental science, but that such knowledge is also gendered. An example of this will be discussed in relation to Anishinabe responsibilities around water in Ontario. Anishinabe worldviews, philosophies, principles and values will also be described as they form the foundation for Anishinabe environmental science. Environmental science from an Anishinabe knowledge perspective focuses on the ethical conduct required to ensure appropriate relationships with all of Creation. Proper relationships and conduct are required of all beings to ensure sustainability, not just for people, but for all of Creation.

The City in a glass of water: urbanized water and sustainability 

Zainub Verjee
Principal Consultant, Metaculture

“The sustainability discourse in the late eighties stemmed out of a certain understanding informed by environment, ecology and developmental economics. The world has grown far more complex,
intrinsically interdependent and deeply integrated. Within sustainable city literature, little attention has thus far been paid to the “Urban” as a process of socio-ecological change, and discussions about global environmental problems and possibilities for a sustainable future customarily ignore the urban origin of many of the problems.
The 21st century has brought a major and arresting focus on two key thematics: locality and environment. In this presentation I will focus on the issue of water and city, exploring their relationship, as I predicate the argument on its history, current contestations and the prospects for the future.” ~ Zainub Verjee

Rewilding Humanity 

Karl Schroeder
Masters candidate, Strategic Foresight programme, OCAD

Economic sustainability is not enough if human civilization is going to have a long presence on Earth. We need to not only reform our institutions but redefine what they are and how they operate; and we need a new vision of what it means to be human in a world where neither transcendence or apocalypse are viable options. One possibility is “rewilding”–bringing our constructed environments in line with our instinctive and cognitive needs.

Digital narratives and eco-media: An artistic experimentation in coastal communities

Karla Brunei
PhD. Professor at IHAC/UFBA

Juan Freire
Professor, University of Corunna

“We will present the processes of creating digital narratives as an artistic experimentation in a coastal community. In a socio-ecological context, the exploration of places is a fundamental aspect of the narrative and experimental geography arise as the conceptual and practical framework. This artistic project was developed in Garapua, a coastal location in Brazil (Bahia), in which local teenagers develop collaborative narratives of their territories using a combination of technologies and media such as: GPS, videos, photos, audio, texts, mapping and blogging. These narratives were constructed during workshops facilitated by a team of artists, scientists and educators,”

Locative Sound: listening for environmental justice

Fereshteh Toosi
Columbia College Chicago

Interdisciplinary artist Fereshteh Toosi discussed her experimental audio documentary called “UP THE CREEK!” The project shared stories from people living and working along Onondaga Creek, an 18-mile waterway that runs through rural, urban, and Native American land in central New York. To experience the project, participants borrowed CD players from the local library or downloaded audio files from the internet, free of charge. Directed by recorded narrations, participants walked and listened to a collection of voices that highlighted human stories about the past, present, and future of the landscape, focusing on how human interaction with the creek has changed over time.

Conversation with Almost Perfect

Subtle Technologies  collaborated with The Banff New Media Institute (BNMI) artist residency Almost Perfect, facilitated by Steve Woolard. Almost Perfect was a residency at BNMI that invited artists to explore locative and mobile media and extend their projects beyond their devices into the environment. Banff National Park provided a unique environment for this residency which takes place during the Subtle Technologies Festival. We have invited the residency participants to join us in a discussion of locative media and the role it can play in connecting to our natural environment. Artist Nancy Nisbet, one of the residency participants facilitated the discussion via video conference from Banff. Further info about the residence is available at

How the Golden-Age of Biology is Accelerating the Development of Sustainable Technologies, Energy, and Materials 

Emma Master
Assistant Professor, University of Toronto, Department of Chemical Engineering and Applied Chemistry

Our forest has always played a critical role in Canadian economic, social, and cultural development. Through historical investment in the forest sector, Canada has emerged as a leader in forest science and technology. Undeniably, the economic competitiveness of conventional forest products has diminished in recent years. At the same time, there is a critical need to substitute petroleum-based products with renewable materials and fuels. This presentation reviewed how advances in genomics and genetic engineering are allowing us to develop sustainable technologies to produce renewable, tailor-made
biomaterials from plants that can help reduce our reliance on fossil fuels.

Appropriate Pervert Technology 

Adam Zaretsky

We don’t need hyper-consumption of natural resources to access excess. The ignoble orgiastic option may be a more ‘ecologically sound’ plan than the green-washing of guilt through free-range chicken and plastic recycling bins. We can achieve post-sustainable excess by amplifying the cognitive, ritualistic and emotional registers of human expression without the long lasting material denigration of the biomes we inhabit. Massive orgies and festivals of expenditure can be tuned to have a low impact. Thinking fruitfully, why plan our creations towards a minimization of negative footprint? Can we re-channel our massive, embodied, corporate hives to strive and achieve positive, fertile-centric, rich green impact through industrial, large scale, ritual process? Appropriate Pervert Technology (APT) is a cry for intimate, libidinal global actions towards preservation of the environment. We can increase planetary, all-organismic livability and fecundity through queer character, freaky, heterogeneous cyclical times and green, post-prudent lifestyle. Sustainable monotony is a bitter pill and it is also a highly inefficient method for the prevention of eco-catastrophic extinction. Sumptuous post-sustainability calls for mega-manure spreads, global nature rubs and environmentally sound projects of mass anti-prudence.

Sustainable Building Practices 

Host: Russell Richman
Assistant Professor, Department of Architectural Science, Faculty of Engineering, Architecture and Science, Ryerson University

Panelists: Lorraine Gauthier, Partner, Work Worth Doing and Lisa Moffitt, University of Edinburgh

This panel investigated some architectural projects that make use of sustainable building practices.

NOW House™ One small house. One million opportunities.
Lorraine Gauthier

One of our biggest environmental challenges is improving the energy efficiency of houses that exist now. I will describe our progress in creating environmental change through Now House zero energy retrofits, demonstration houses and community projects. We first applied the Now House process to a 60-year-old wartime bungalow. With a million similar houses across the country, they offer the potential to replicate our process and dramatically reduce Canada’s greenhouse gases. I will cover our Now House projects, our design process for zero energy retrofits, the social and economic aspects of our transformation strategy and the challenges of scaling up.

The House on Limekiln Line: Nested Scales of Rural Sustainability

Lisa Moffitt

“I spent summer and fall 2009 living on a farm in Huron County, Ontario while overseeing construction of the House on Limekiln Line, an off-grid house on a 25-acre farm lot. The process of living in rural Canada, meeting local farmers, participating in the periphery of large-scale agricultural production, seeing the local culture of resource consumption and production, learning about vernacular building practices, and understanding the infrastructural challenges of building within this vast scale raises questions about how we evaluate sustainability outside of the urban context. I will present the house in nested scales, starting with agricultural production, shifting to the farm lot, followed by the house, and finally to the detail. The presentation will focus in parallel on design strategies of the house with more general sustainable issues in rural development.” ~ Lisa MOffitt

Visualizing Ecological Literacy 

Jody Joanna Boehnert
Creative Director, EcoLabs –
phD candidate, University of Brighton

Visual communicators have an important role to play in building an understanding of complex environmental problems and creating a momentum for change. Yet before we swing into action to save the world from converging environmental crises, a new type of teaming must be embedded in our practice. This presentation explore the emergent concept of ecological literacy as a starting point for an engaged cultural producer. Jody Boehnertwill demonstrated how visual representations of ecological literacy can contribute to the development of cognitive skills, map intellectual territory and help disseminate information at a time of rapid societal change.

Requiem for a Drowning Landscape

Joseph Ingoldsby
Landscape Mosaics, Marshfield, MA USA

That narrow ribbon of marsh between land and sea is dying. What is killing the salt marsh is still not fully known. The stress of coastal development, pollution, sea level rise, warming trends and constricted growing area may develop stress related pathogens which infect, attack and kill the marsh grass and allow for the hollowing out of the marsh grass roots into coral like forms, which erode with each high tide. Scientists report sudden salt marsh dieback along the Atlantic coast. The end result is a loss of coastal protection, habitat, estuarine landscapes and fisheries.

DIY Power Generation:
from trash to electronic independence, one tiny generator at a time

Director, The Madagascar Institute

Many, if not most “green” solutions are either just another way to spend lots of money for limited results (plug-in car conversions, photovoltaic cells), or noble, but difficult and messy (moving off-grid to a yurt). This presentation will put forth a limited, accessible, scalable, cheap set of solutions: small, cheap, dedicated generators, home-built from trash.

Contaminants – Much Ado About Nothing or Serious Stuff? 

Miriam Diamond
University of Toronto

Synthetic chemicals enable us to live our relatively comfortable and convenient lives, but some of these chemicals can inadvertently escape into the environment. Problems can arise and have arisen when the chemicals have the potential to act as toxins. We traced the origins and effects of some of these contaminants, focusing on lakes and urban areas.

Microbes and meteors: putting the human experience in biological context 

T. Ryan Gregory 
Assistant Professor, Department of Integrative Biology, University of Guelph

Life has existed on Earth for nearly 4 billion years, and currently includes an estimated 10-100 million species. The history of life has included both dramatic change (as with the “Cambrian explosion” that saw the rise of many major animal groups) and long-term stability: after billions of years, bacteria remain the most abundant forms of life. It has also involved both extensive diversification and enormous losses of diversity through five (and currently, a sixth) mass extinction events. This presentation gave a brief overview of the history and current diversity of life in order to provide the full biological context for questions of sustainability and long-term human survival.

Making Connections 

Jill Anholt
Principal, Jill Anholt Studio

“Sustainability has become an all-encompassing term that allows us to view the whole world through its lens. Its definition has expanded from our influence on the natural environment to include social, cultural and economic structures of the human condition, tying us together within a vast network of relationships. It is this cloud of multivalent connections that inspires the conceptual development, form and material expression of my art in the public realm. This presentation will focus on a selection of my recent built and in-process public art projects that aspire to create dynamic experiences and allow the public to connect to the world in meaningful new ways.” ~ Jill Anholt

Pollination Ecology Expressed through Art:
The Collaborative Creation of “Resonating Bodies Bumble Domicile” Integrated Media Installation

Sarah Peebles
Sound and installation artist, composer, improvisor

Laurence Packer
Department of Biology, York University

Rob King

“‘Resonating Bodies – Bumble Domicile’ was the first of a series of art installations and projects focusing on biodiversity of bees indigenous to the Greater Toronto Area. Bumble Domicile highlighted distinct features of local bumble bees through an observation hive, garden, visual and audio transformations, scent, touch, and biological information. Created by artists Sarah Peebles, Rob King, Rob Cruickshank and Anne Barros in collaboration with Canadian and U.S. biologists, the installation premiered at Toronto’s *new* gallery in 2008. We will discuss our collaborative process, how research on bee biology, pathogen transmission and pollination ecology informed the project, how bumble bee health issues presented us with challenges, and ongoing Resonating Bodies works (”

Exhibition Panel

Panelists: Matthew Biederman, Noel Harding, Chris Hardwicke, Marko Peljhan, Rod Strickland
Moderator: Graeme Stewart

This interactive discussion explored the connections and ideas from the Festival exhibition, contingent ecologies :: investigations at the edge, with the exhibition artists.

Kids’ World of Energy Activity Centre

A TREC program (Toronto Renewable Energy Co-operative)

June 6, 9:45 AM – 4:30 PM
Location: Innis Town Hall

TREC’s “Kids’ World of Energy” team will be offering a variety of hands-on activities for kids of all ages! Drop by our Activity Centre to learn about wind and solar energy by making Pinwheels and Solar Ovens and try out our “Energy Scramble” to test your knowledge of the energy consumed by typical household appliances!


Seed Bombing 

Adam Zaretsky

June 6, 11 AM to 4 PM
Location: Innis Town Hall

Design Your Own Creative, EcoArt, Outdoor, Ecoventionist, Seed-Bomb Sculpture. Create an installation in the open outdoors that explores anarcho-expression around issues of Ecology, Foreign Species Release, Kitsch Ornament, Public Art and Rewilding. Use clay, manure, soil and seeds (all provided free of charge) as a medium in a public, collaborative, live-art, sculpting studio. Stroll with us on an active installation walk. Savor moments of outdoors lab/action appreciation. Consider this an open invitation for a hands-on, non-directed, lesson in sustainability arts, bioremediation arts, arts that address GMOs and all other foreign species politics. Interrogate your conceptions of naturalism while expressing your politics in the media of the wild. Look at your manicured environment of urban landscape architecture for guidance on issues of kitsch and the decorative. Rework, upset and muddy the given concrete with some growing, ephemeral, seeded sculptures.

Drama & Sustainability Workshop 

Mark Tovey 

June 6, 10:30 AM to 12:30 PM
Location: Innis Town Hall

Experience theatre as a low-impact art form. A few people and a room are all that are required. This workshop had us experienced theatre as an activity that can be enjoyably done anywhere, by anyone, without any equipment or special training. In engaging our emotions, theatre is also a way of engaging mportant ideas, like sustainability, viscerally. This workshop, through simple theatrical experiments, helps js to explore this territory.


Growing Food for Growing Minds: Reimagining Urban Space with the UofT

Campus Agriculture Project
Date: June 6
Time: Tours depart from 11:15 AM, 1:45 PM, 2:45 PM

Exploring urban agriculture means refashioning connections between people, nature, and the built environment. Beyond delicious, local food, agricultural practices within the city support the cultivation of new ideas along with the (re)discovery of forgotten traditions.

At the University of Toronto, food production is being embraced by students, staff, and researchers for its complex pedagogical potential; gardens, beehives, and mushroom logs promise new ways of engaging withthe spaces in which we live and learn.

Join students from the UofT Campus Agriculture Project as we tour some of these growing initiatives, and join in on our continuing efforts to create a greener, healthier future for our cities.

Presented in Partnership with Hart House & the UofT Campus Agriculture Project. 

The Way Forward: Building Social and Ecological Resilience through Social Innovation

Frances Westley
Social Innovation Generation, University of Waterloo

At times the possibility of responding to the complex challenges of today’s world – climate change, famine, poverty, species loss, pandemics- seems overwhelming and remote. But in fact we find ways to innovate every day, in our own lives and our communities. The key is to capture and build on the creative ideas and the brave initiatives we see around us and to find ways to “scale-up” such innovations so that they become part of the water supply, part of business as usual. In this talk, I will explore how entrepreneurs, those who invent new ideas and those who work to change the broader beliefs, resource constraints and rules, in order to allow those new ideas to take root and flourish, offer us all insights about
how the world is changed.

Artful Interventions 

Adding art, fun, or clever interventions to our daily lives: From makers to ecolabelling to green design to urban intervention. This panel explored what cognitive science, thought-provoking design and massive collaboration have to say about interventions that make our lives greener.

Philip Beesley
Philip Beesley Architect Inc
Associate Professor, University of Waterloo

Jill Anholt
Principal, Jill Anholt Studio

John Lewis
President, Intelligent Futures

Mark Tovey
Institute of Cognitive Science, Carleton University

This even was produced in partnership with Worldchanging Canada