Subtle Technologies v.17

Participatory Practices in Art & Science


This year’s festival celebrates the ways artists and scientists are engaging the collective power, knowledge and creativity of the citizen. There is strong movement, perhaps in the wake of online social networks, towards greater collaboration among and across disciplines. Festival events explore new ideas around audience participation, the exploding DIY movement, open source models for society, ‘citizen science’ and much more.



Open Culture: Urban Interventions
Curated by Nina Czegledy

Tuesday, May 20 to Saturday, May 31
Paul H. Cocker Gallery, Department of Architectural Science, Ryerson University
325 Church St., Toronto, ON

Opening Reception: May 23, 7-9pm

Urban interventionism is often referred to as a form of public or participatory art. It is in this spirit that we explore the artworks in the Open Culture: Urban Interventions exhibition. The theme of the exhibition refers to sociopolitical creeds as well as realities of the present both in distant South Africa and Toronto.

Marcus Nestetter and Stephen Hobbs — The Imaginary Corpse Project (2014)
Ron Wild and Joseph Geraci — Reckoning (2013)
Willy Le Maitre — Breakdown of Origins (2013)
Donna Legault — Subtle Territory (date unknown)
Patricio Davila and Dave Colangelo — In the Air, Tonight (2014)


D.I.T. Alternative Energy Grid Workshop
Facilitated by Maria Michails, NY/QC

Wednesday, May 21 and Thursday, May 22, 2014

Maker Space, School of Radio and Television Arts
Rogers Communication Centre, Room RCC 194
Ryerson University, 80 Gould Street, Toronto, ON

Presented in collaboration with the New Media Program at the RTA School of Media, Ryerson University

DIT (do-it-together) Alternative Energy Grid is a hands-on workshop for makers 16 and over interested in learning how to make an alternative energy generating device or mechanism. This two-evening concept and skill-based workshop invites motivated makers from all backgrounds to collaboratively create a series of diverse sources of energy-generating mechanisms (human-powered, solar, wind, plants, etc.) that pool their power together to create a neighbourhood ‘grid’.

DIY Water Sensing Workshop
Co-organized by Nina Czegledy, Adriana Ieraci and Antonio Gamba-Bari

Friday, May 30, 2014, 6-9pm & Saturday, May 31, 2014, 10am-5pm

Semaphore Demo Lab, Main floor, Robarts Library
University of Toronto, 130 St. George St., Toronto, ON

As citizens, how can we better understand our water supply and help policy-makers and caretakers of our water systems prepare for future challenges? In this one-and-a-half day experimental workshop we will explore basic water characteristics, mythologies, practical facts, socio-technical issues and water-based art and culture projects.


Open Access
Curated by Farah Yusuf

Friday May 23, 2014, 7-9pm
Paul H. Cocker Gallery, Department of Architectural Science, Ryerson University
325 Church St., Toronto, ON

From citizen knowledge, DIY initiatives and maker spaces to cross-disciplinary collaborations and artists making sense of scientific data, the Poster/Demo Session features a diverse range of projects across various disciplines. They are united in the common spirit of Open Culture, which favours knowledge sharing, explorations, experimentation, and re-interpretation of specialized data.

Hacklab.TOHacklab.TO Member Projects
Maggie FlynnAnarchist Free Archive
Risa HorowitzImaging Saturn (modelling views): an interdisciplinary exploration in visual and media arts astronomy
Scott Kobewka and Sheraz KhanToronto Sound Prints
Joana MollAZ: Move and get shot
Joseph Emmanuel IngoldsbyTropical Coral Reefs in Uncertain Seas
Thomas Rex BeverlyTelepresent Storm: Rita for iPads, live electronics, and projected graphical score
Milton FriesenTRIAT—Tiny Researcher in a Tube
Marinos Koutsomichalis, Afroditi Psarra, Maria VarelaOiko-nomic Threads


Saturday, May 24, 2014, 7:30-8:00pm
OCAD University, Room 230
100 McCaul St., Toronto, Ontario

Scientists Are Doing it for Themselves:
Open Access, Open Data, Citizen Science

John Dupuis (Toronto)
Librarian Steacie Science & Engineering Library

The Web has the potential to unleash scientific creativity like nothing else since the invention of the printing press. Scientists—academic, government, industrial, even amateur—have the ability to create, measure, promote, share and research using the Web as a platform. How is the Web liberating scientific creativity, looking at Open Access, Open Data, Altmetrics and Citizen Science among other movements.


Saturday, May 24, 2014, 8:00-9:00pm
OCAD University, Room 230
100 McCaul St., Toronto, Ontario

Stephen Keats (Berlin)
Heather Leson (Toronto)

Included in the Places booklet of the Critical Making Zine produced by Garnet Hertz in 2012, there was a proposal to consider Juba, the capital of the recently independent state of South Sudan as “The World’s First Open Source City.” The proposal, focusing on the role that FOSS, DIY and Open Culture can play in a post-conflict development scenario has since taken root as multi-sector and cross-disciplinary attempt at fusing many aspects of critical making. This discussion will explore how citizen-oriented, hacktivist and open culture oriented forms of action are needed to support the voices of youth and civil society emerging from such crises.


Saturday, May 24, 2015 and Sunday, May 25, 2014
Ryerson University, 350 Victoria St.
Library Building, Auditorium LIB 72


The Open Access movement and arts publishing in Canada
Corina MacDonald (Montreal)

This presentation will introduce the e-artexte digital repository and discuss the Open Access movement in scholarly publishing and it use within the arts community. There has been widespread adoption of Open Access in scientific communities, however contemporary arts communities have been slow to recognize the potential benefits of this model, or to adopt licensing practices. Reasons for this uneven development will be discussed as well as some ways that Open Access is gaining ground among publishers of artists’ books, catalogues, and other forms of artistic documentation.

Open Medicine and the new culture of open access in the sciences
Carlyn Zwarenstein (Toronto)

Open Medicine is interested in sharing its experience as one of the first in a now exploding population of open-access academic journals along with insights into the evolving nature of open access research and publishing.

The Heart of Medicine: Sympathy and Pills
Billiam James, Artist, Writer, Game Designer (Toronto)

David Healy, Professor of Psychiatry, Hergest Unit, Bangor, Wales
Dr. Derelie (Dee) Mangin, Chair of Family Medicine, Associate Professor, Dept. of Family Medicine, McMaster University
David Carmichael, Media Relations Data Based Medicine Americas Ltd.

Modern medical science is a giant lab experiment. And we are the guinea pigs. Adverse events from health care treatments are now the fourth leading cause of death in America. Yes, modern medical research has produced many astounding breakthroughs, but we are still experimenting…Much of it, by trial and error. These risks are complicated by our insatiable desire for magic pills. And a culture of medicalization, where normal human behaviours—like sadness, inattentiveness or even ageing—are labeled as medical disorders.

Connecting People for Effective Participation
Liane Fredericks (London, UK)
Scott Perret (London, UK)

We talk, talk, talk. But what are the skills we need to engage in “participatory practices” so that we actually get something innovative and meaningful out of them? Together, we will learn and play with two fundamental skills for fostering connection simply, quickly and deeply. Emergence is at the heart of innovation—when something new arises out of the interactions in a system that none of the individual parts (or people) in the system contributed alone.


Design Diversity: Using Co-design for Inclusion and Empowerment
Foad Hamidi, PhD Candidate, York University (North York)

Karla Saenz, Kopalli Arte Publico, Mexico
Dr. Melanie Baljko, York University, Toronto

In a world where creative ideas are our most valuable assets, we cannot afford to miss out on the knowledge and talent latent outside academia and research communities. As researchers and designers, we are exploring methods of co-designing with “citizen designers,” including people with disabilities and marginalized children. Our aim is to facilitate intercultural collaboration and community engagement in the context of Human-Computer Interaction. We present two case studies: a culturally-informed digital design workshop for marginalized children in Oaxaca, Mexico and a co-design project of an open-source customizable communication board for a user with disabilities in Toronto.

Points of View
Zohar Kfir (Montreal)

POINTS OF VIEW is an ongoing interactive web documentary based on video footage shot by Palestinians working with B’Tselem’s Camera Distribution Project. It offers an intimate and situated look at life under Israeli occupation. POINTS OF VIEW serves as a participatory documentary, one that engages the viewer to piece together various components to make their own story. It is an exploration of non-linear narrative format, which emulates an approach of a participant observer, as it showcases actual life stories and events portraying the harsh reality of Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza.

Where on Earth Are We?
Stephen Hobbs (South Africa)
Marcus Neustetter (South Africa)

The dramatic transformation in urban and informational networks in South Africa, due to the radical regime change of 1994; set in motion myriad issues around personal and public orientation. Hobbs and Neustetter’s socially engaged, performative urban interventions strike at the heart of renegotiating one’s otherness in a society constantly recalibrating its sense of self and the collective.

Beyond the Yoda Head: Making 3D printing meaningful
Matt Ratto, Asst. Professor and Director, Semaphore Research Cluster on Mobile and Pervasive Computing, Critical Making Lab, Faculty of Information, University of Toronto

Despite the revolutionary rhetoric associated with new desktop manufacturing technologies, many of the objects created by consumer-based 3D printers remain at the level of kitsch and pop culture display. In this talk, I will explore what it would take to move beyond such tropes, including the need for “maker software” and the need for makers themselves to link up with current institutional players in areas of health, the environment and manufacturing.

Bio-Printer Development at the Baltimore Under Ground Science Space (BUGSS)
Ryan Hoover, Member of BUGSS; Director of Fabrication Studios, Maryland Institute College of Art; independent artist
Thomas Burkett, BUGSS Founder; microbiologist; educator

The Baltimore Under Ground Science Space is a citizen science center where members work collaboratively on a variety of biological projects. A primary project of the center is developing a low-cost, open-source printer for biological material. This talk will discuss the current research and material of the labs at BUGSS in the lead-up to printing living cells.

Mobile ECO-Studio: Open Source Ecology & Public Practice
Matt Garcia (Pueblo, CO)

April Bojorquez, desert ArtLAB co-founder

This presentation will explore the mobile ECO-STUDIO, an art project addressing the ecological crisis in the Southwestern United States and how artists are using public pedagogy to promote ecological restoration and desert-food-practice. The mobile ECO-STUDIO is a portable native ecology site distributing restorative desert seed mixes and cacti to desert communities within stressed urban zones. ECO-STUDIO also conducts streetside workshops—training residents to identify, plant, and harvest native desert flora.

Re:Thinking Audience Engagement—A Case for Crowdsourced Exhibits
Pierre Tanguay & Melissa Trottier (Montreal)

is a crowdsourced online exhibit conceived by Montreal graduate students in Museum Studies in 2013. What shape can an exhibit take online? What can emerge from a dialogue between the visitor and the organizers? Variations showcases the remarkable potential of new technologies for the cultural sector: with modest means, existing platforms and social media can be used to create inclusive and innovative projects.


Designing Collaboration
Greg Judelman (Toronto)

This presentation will explore the design and facilitation of participatory and community organizational processes. It will outline key principles of effective collaboration, tools and methods for process design, and elements of crafting and planning an effective group experience.

Stories of Invention: Narratives of Canadian Environmental Scientists
Stephanie Pete, Founding member, TEC Collective
Greg Blair, Founding member, TEC Collective
Tom McElroy
Rita Camacho Lomeli, Member, TEC Collective

During our presentation, we discuss ways Canadian artists, designers and scientists are addressing environmental concerns. A Toronto scientist invented the instrumentation that facilitated the discovery of ozone depletion 30 years ago. His story of technological innovation and ozone recovery demonstrates the roles of scientists, politicians and the public in addressing Earth’s environmental crisis. We will introduce the ozone data project by the WOUDC and a renewable energy arts movement.

Marc Böhlen (Buffalo)

Airkami and WaterBank create an urban intervention into compromised water resources in the Terban district of Yogyakarta in Java, Indonesia. Airkami (Bahasa Indonesian for ‘our water’) delivers biosensor-based pathogen analysis data on private and public water wells in Terban while WaterBank creates a public well and sharing system that makes clean water available to residents.

The Amateur Scientist
Tom Sherman, Professor of Transmedia, Syracuse University

Jan Pottie
Inka Milewski
Bernhard Loibner
Friends of Port Mouton Bay

I have been making video in support of citizen science for many years. Recently, this work has taken the form of speculative fiction, extending scientific research into characters that highlight the conflicts between government, corporate science and the citizen-based knowledge of communities. As an artist, I have license to close the gaps between data and anticipated realities


Indeterminate Hikes and Wilderness Collider
Cary Peppermint (Rochester)
Leila Nadir, University of Rochester

This is an interactive event in which participants will join Cary and Leila on a 1-hour hike in the neighbourhood of the festival site. Grab a quick lunch before you go.

Indeterminate Hikes+, a mobile media app, transforms everyday landscapes into sites of bio-cultural diversity and wild happenings through a series of walking tours. IH+ re-appropriates smartphones, generally used for rapid communication and consumerism, and turns them into tools of environmental imagination and meditative wonder, renewing awareness of biological, cultural and media ecologies. the app works by importing the rhetoric of wilderness into virtually any place accessible by Google Maps.

How It’s Made:
A hands-on survey of tools and processes in transmedia and technological art

Jacob Niedzwiecki (Toronto)
Vanessa Shaver (Toronto)

This session will teach the use of tools appropriated from particular industries/disciplines for use in artistic and scientific practices as well as wisdom around useful processes for creating multidisciplinary, technical art. In short: “What useful tools can I steal from other disciplines?” and “How do I coordinate the creation of technically complex work?”

The Mutable Archive
Patricia Olynyk (St. Louis)

The subject of human mortality is one of considerable interest in contemporary art and science. Correspondingly, The Mutable Archive project depicts a collection of photographed skulls from Mütter Museum in Philadelphia, for which only a minimal amount of verifiable information exists. The project enlists scientists, artists, historians, ethicists, philosophers, spiritual mediums and laypersons, each of whom creates a fictional biography on a subject of their choosing.

Open Paths: Empowering Personal Geographic Data
Brian House (Providence)

OpenPaths, created by the New York Times R+D lab, is a platform that demonstrates the collective value of personal data sovereignty. It was developed in response to public outrage regarding location data generate by Apple iOS devices. OpenPaths participants store their encrypted geographic data online while maintaining ownership and programmatic control. OpenPaths expands the notion of the tracing to address the components of an ethical implementation of crowdsourced geographic systems in the age of “big data”.

Views of Dance:
Audience participation in community engagement practices in contemporary dance

Karen & Allen Kaeja (Toronto)

A presentation about the evolution of Kaeja d’Dance’s experiences with audience engagement/participation, involving audiences as both performers and creators from 1989 to the present including a case study of our Porch View Dances initiative.

Back to your feet:
theatrical success stories in audience participation

bluemouth inc. (Toronto)

Richard Windeyer
Lucy Simic
Stephen O’Connell
Ciara Adams

What would you do if you went to the theatre only to discover that you’d been entered in a dance contest?! Would you panic and run for the doors? Or would you defy the odds and persist until you reached the victory podium? Since 2009, Toronto-based performance collective bluemouth inc. has been challenging audiences with DANCE MARATHON, an immersive event which situates audience participation and competition at the core of its experience.

Subtle Technologies graciously acknowledges support from:



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