Subtle Technologies- Open Culture: Participatory Practices in Art & Science

It is that time of the year: Subtle Technologies Festival is back for a week-long ride to explore Open Culture in Art and Science. The theme this year is particularly timely: DIY-bio labs, hacker spaces and hacklabs, maker spaces etc… are popping up everywhere, new forms of sharing ranging from tools, to skills, to networks of solidarity to eliminate debt, to avoid eviction, or just to share a meal together are no longer rare. This year we celebrate this new movement hoping that it will become increasingly common. Only in Toronto, in one year, we have seen the flourishing of new groups and communities deeply interested in making and combining art, science and technologies. In addition to the ubiquitous maker spaces (like the tool library, the Make Lab, Maker Kids) and hacklabs, new groups that produce, experiment with and discuss the interrelation between art, science and technology are growing as I write (DIYbio Toronto, Action Potential Lab and ArtSci Salon, the latter a spinoff of Subtle Technologies are only a few examples).

As the Subtle Technologies Symposium officially takes place during the week end of May 24-25 , a number of initiatives have already started in preparation for the opening of the two exhibitions Open Culture/Urban Interventions curated by Nina Czegledy and Open Access, curated by Farah Yusuf, both taking place in the Faculty of Architecture at Ryerson University. I accompanied South African artists Marcus Neustetter and Stephen Hobbs to a subjective tour of a neighborhood of my choice. I was one among several individuals who agreed to do the same. As I was walking with the two artists showing details of the neighborhood surrounding Christie Pits and narrating its controversial historical significance, we had conversations with people and I discovered myself parts of the neighborhood that I had not noticed. Neustetter and Hobbs had never been to Toronto, but they were able to decipher parts of the city using their very own experience from South Africa. At the Urban Intervention exhibition, the two artists will present an installation based on their experience of the city filtered through the narratives that we, as the host, were able to transmit, and they, as the attentive visitors, had gathered through their personal experience.