Category Archives: urbanism

It’s Complicated

These days when people people ask me what I’ve been up to, the answers can get quite convoluted. So in the absence of a FaceBook account here’s a sampling of some recent projects, and just enough back story to make it seem coherent.

Followers of this site will be familiar with my researches into the Marshall McLuhan fonds, work that some intrepid Berliners have recently revived by marrying a poor quality lecture video to the hundreds of images that were the crux of the original presentation. The result is the Hybrid Lecture Player.

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We’re currently seeking support to go deeper (and go public) with this project. The hope is to make each image into a virtual slide down a documentary rabbit hole, for those who choose to explore. We were met with enthusiastic interest in recent conversations with the McLuhan family, and the Berliners have piqued the interest of universities in Europe and the US. All of this international attention may be enough to win the eventual support of Canadian institutions, including the LAC whose new director says he wants to revive the exhibitions and programming that have been conspicuously absent in recent years. With luck the promised exhibitions will expand beyond war and hockey.

In addition to that archival work I’m getting back into museums, by way of the academy and the internet. I’ve researched, catalogued, taught and curated in museums for much of my career, which took a downturn in summer 2011 when I was one of five curators laid off from the struggling National Gallery of Canada. The abolition of my position as Curator of International (i.e. non-Canadian) Art brought the total to seventy lost positions by the time I was out of the picture. That’s a conservative estimate, since it doesn’t count moribund positions like the curatorship of Modern Art, a role that I subsumed a few years prior to that. I found it rewarding to acquire 20thC works such as a unique Warhol print donated by a couple in Toronto and this crazy thing which I found at auction and paid for with repatriation monies from Heritage Canada.

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I also developed a deep respect for minimalist art while creating a glorious gallery for Judd, Andre and Flavin works that has since been dismantled. Continue reading

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Meta Post: Slow Ottawa

Did you miss me?

I’ve been busy trying to scrounge a living over here with my most ambitious and elegant web project to date, a guide to sustainable living in Canada’s capital. I’m five days in, and already I’ve made $40. I’ll be adding blog and audiocast profiles of local initiatives in the coming weeks. If you know anyone who’s into righteous poverty and/or saving the planet, kindly spread the word.

As ever,

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Meta-Post: The New Urban Uncanny

Click on the image below for a link to the ol’ Tumblr blog (Boring from Within) that predates the site you’re reading. The boundary between blogs #1 and #2 is porous and may prove untenable, but as a believer in multiple technologies (and multiple selves) I’m maintaining them both for now.

"The New Urban Uncanny" (Boring from Within)

Planning Toronto in 1915

In preparation for my impending visit to the big city I’m posting some good, bad and ugly maps and data graphics–many of them far too colourful–from volume 2 of the Report to the Civic Transportation Committee on Radial Railway Entrances and Rapid Transit for the City of Toronto (1915). The sheer variety of techniques of data representation bespeak the anxious wonderment of this Winsor McKay moment in history.

Click on any image for a link to a huge version of the whole, courtesy of the U of T Map & Data Library.

Diagram showing in isometric projection the 1914 population density per acre for the built up portion of each block within the city limits.

Diagram showing in isometric projection the 1914 population density per acre for the built up portion of each block within the city limits.

Distribution of Population at 1914 and increase from 1909.

Distribution of Population at 1914 and increase from 1909.

Distribution of Population for 1889, 1904, 1899, and 1909.

Distribution of Population for 1889, 1904, 1899, and 1909.

Plan Showing Recommended Radial Railway Entrances

Plan Showing Recommended Radial Railway Entrances.

Diagram Showing Volume and Distribution of Daily Passenger Traffic on Various Street Car Routes in the City of Toronto under normal midweek conditions during August 1915.

Diagram Showing Volume and Distribution of Daily Passenger Traffic on Various Street Car Routes in the City of Toronto under normal midweek conditions during August 1915.

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