Timeline of Currency, Doors Open Toronto 2012, 1 King West inside its historic safety deposit box room
Q. Hi DoUC, tell us a bit about your practice and introduce yourselves for those who might not be familiar.
Department of Unusual Certainties is an experimental research and design studio based in Toronto. DoUC is Christopher Pandolfi and Simon Rabyniuk, with a shifting cast of collaborators. Each of us come from diverse backgrounds. We have solidified a collective identity around the analysis and visualization of complex structures (i.e. city systems, or the history of currency are two examples). We operate with the intent to make these things accessible to a broad public through the creation of information-based images, installations, and events. We sometimes use the term public art to describe what we do. In doing so we emphasize ideas of art for the public or art with a mandate for public good.
Q. You have been working out of the Gladstone for a while now, what have you been up to since you moved in?
We’ve been at the Gladstone since June. Over the last five months we have been apart of a series of festivals, an expo, and a biennale.
For the Art of the Danforth festival in June we created the project Art of the Danforth Innovators’ Fair: a series of programless pavilions. The project sought to create a parasitic fair within the large festival, one that explored questions of agency of the individual and the flexible design of public spaces.
We also participated in the Brickworks and Institute Without Boundaries MOVE: Transportation Expo at the Brickworks. IWB hosted a charrette process last winter. DoUC’s Christopher Pandolfi led one of the charrette groups as lead designer. Over the last year the Department with Kar Yan Chung have been refining the charrette groups proposal for a reinvigorated food distribution system that caters to the needs of farmers within Ontario’s Greenbelt for the final exhibition. MOVE: Transportation Expo is open until Nov 18th.
Q. You were part Migrating Landscapes, the project Canada presented at the Venice Biennale of Architecture. Tell us a bit about your involvement.
Since last October we have been strategic partners with Migrating Landscapes Organizers the curators of the 2012 Venice Biennale of Architecture. For MLO we undertook a research project looking at how migration has shaped different Canadian cities. Through this we’ve had the opportunity to send our work across the country as well as to the Canadian Pavilion at the Venice Biennale. In Canada we presented a series of eight graphic timelines 16′ to 55′ long. For Venice we synthesized those eight timelines into a single poster. The front has 2700 facts about migration in Canada. Each fact is numbered, in chronological order, and graphically pinned to the city it applies to. The back presents 17 maps showing shifting borders from pre-European contact to 1999 when Canada became 10 province and 3 territories. The narrative surrounding each of the maps is further expressed through a small collection of numbers connected to specific facts on the front. The poster is a kind of analogue data-base. You really just need to see the thing to understand how this works. It is available for purchase at Art Metropole (1490 Dundas St W, Toronto) for $10.00.
Q. While you are here you will be planning a series of debates. Why a debates series?
Our motivation for this is coming from a few different places. Generally, at all three levels of government in Canada we see a faltering commitment to the presentation of factual information. Canadians rarely hear the facts, they hear other people’s opinions expressed as talking points. We see New Discourses for a Tired Century: A debate series as an opportunity to create a public forum for the expression of factual arguments regarding the issues that are and will shape the present moment and future scenarios. DoUC has authored, for the series, four statements which bring to light issues not being properly considered. Over the course of the series 16 young voices will have the opportunity to speak to and with each other, responding to the topics at hand – hence new voices for creating new discourses. On October 23rd at 7:30PM, right here at the Gladstone, debaters are responding to the statement “Be it resolved the future is hopeless.”
For information on this debate go here
For ongoing information about the debates go here
Q. On the topic of debates any thoughts on the Presidential debates?
This week the conservative government introduced a new Omnibus Bill that has the potential to change aspects of the Indian Act, the Canadian Labour Code and very interestingly the Canada Shipping Act which will see the amount of Canada’s navigable waters seriously downgraded. In Ontario we also have experienced a current shutdown in our legislature with the prorogation of the government by the Liberal party. We also heard that Romney had a binder full of women which we thought was kind of weird. I hope this answers the question. Also here is a joke: If a fallacious argument is made during a nationally televised debate does anyone hear it?
Hope to see you at the Debates.