Lazy year end post – Sayonara 2013!

Well good people, the end is nigh and it’s time for bloggers to post their top whatever lists of whatever the hell to wrap another year. One such list is Co.Design’s 22 Videos We Couldn’t Stop Watching in 2013. Some really great vids/time killers on there so do get to it. It’s in the same spirit of sharing and reflection that I write this post.

But, since this is a lazy year end post I present not a list of agreeable things I’ve seen in 2013, but just one thing that I remembered. Filmmaker Marc-Antoine Locatelli’s Nuance. The first time I saw it I was totally mesmerized. Beautiful choreography, understated photography, and a totally blissed-out soundtrack. Let’s all agree to end the year and ring in the new one like a living version of this video — with nuance, poetry, beauty, and of course music.


Speedwalking Through the VAG’s Grand Hotel

If you know me then you’ll know I’m not good at sitting still. You’ll also know what a relief it was to finally deplane after 5ish hours of sitting in the middle seat from YYZ to YVR. The saving grace of yesterday’s journey, aside from the ramen and izakaya eats, was my whirlwind visit to the Vancouver Art Gallery (VAG).

For a museum planner I’m notorious for getting museum fatigue really really easily. Maybe this makes me super sympathetic to museum-goers, especially the 5 year-old kid who’s bored to tears at any given moment at any given museum in this wide world. My capacity for boredom and fatigue also accords with my inability to sit through a plane ride. Anyways, I had 30 minutes to breeze through the permanent galleries which is often plenty of time. Needless to say I was astonished when I found myself wanting more time to explore the Grand Hotel: Redesigning Modern Life exhibition that is currently showing.

Road Trip Gallery detail

Road Trip Gallery detail

Road Trip Gallery Detail

Road Trip Gallery Detail


I won’t go into details here (though I really want to) simply because, as I said, I breezed through the show and it really deserves a proper write-up. However, it’s a super engaging theme and the curators were pretty expansive in their approach to the topic touching on such sub-themes as culture, the social, travel and design. I’d say the show broadly addresses the question: How is modern life understood differently through the phenomenon of the modern hotel?

I found the ‘culture’ exhibits particularly interesting — it’s a lot of text and poring over documents, mixed with screen-based experiences of movie clips and music from the period. For me it was super interesting because it explores the hotel as hub or retreat for cultural creation (think Ginsberg and the Beat Hotel in Paris). Normally the amount of reading involved would be a deal-breaker (it’s really not that much text, but it’s me), but everything in the show is assembled with care and purpose so I want to give it a proper go.

If I can swing it in between meetings and client dinners I will definitely go back and take my time.

Sitting in my hotel room right now, trying to deal with a fit of insomnia, I feel a tinge of regret. Regret because I didn’t have more time at the VAG to immerse myself in the world of modern hotels. Even more regret because the the hotel room I’m sitting in as I write is bland and it’s doubtful any sudden bursts of creativity will be forthcoming.

Grand Hotel: Redesigning Modern Life runs from April 13 to September 15, 2013.

Confectionary Consensus? Nope!

My friend Vesna turned me onto the work of Polish Artist Artur Żmijewski recently. The particular piece she recommended was called, Them (2007), which was shown at Documenta 12 in Kassel, Germany so it’s pretty old.

Still, it’s an interesting piece especially in light of all the participatory, relational aesthetics-y, socially engaged arts-y stuff you typically (constantly) hear about. It made me think about all the things I’m learning in my Negotiations and Communications class. What happens when people approach each other based on positions (mine versus yours), rather than an openness to shared interests?

What if, in the end, you and I, us and them, are ultimately incommensurable? And with that thought, I bid you good evening. Here’s to another week!




Dollop of Foucault. Dash of Gramsci.

Wow, haven’t posted in a while. Too many things going on! Top of mind right now — environmental scan of best practices in museum displays of ethnographic collections! YAY!

Here’s a short excerpt from an article called, Exhibiting Indigenous Heritage in the Age of Cultural Property, by professor Michael F. Brown of Williams College. It’s perfectly pithy which really brightens up the whole research process.

“Postcolonial scholarship on museums suffers from exasperating
flaws. Its language is often overblown, depicting curators as foot soldiers
in the trenches of colonial oppression. Its rhetorical strategy is tiresomely
predictable: comb the archives for objectionable, racist declarations by
long-dead museum employees, mix in a bit of authorial hand wringing
about a troubling exhibit label or two, flavor with a dollop of Foucault and
a dash of Gramsci, shake vigorously, serve. From the sinister confines of
the museum and the grasping hands of its expert staff, heritage-everyone’s
heritage, it seems-must be “reclaimed” and “liberated.”

Stay tuned for my next post — which will be beer related. Cheers!

EDIT: The above, taken out of context, may sound a bit snarky, but it’s a thoughtful article and I do recommend it for those interested in the subject at hand.

Bikes and MOOCs On My Mind

Alright, Sunday heralds the end of another productive weekend. I (mostly) got over a flu, exacerbated my illness by cycling in -14 weather, then recovered by the power of sleep and whiskey.

I also attended the Toronto International Bicycle Show. This is exciting because it means the start of another cycling season (get thee behind me devil/TTC!). Spring is neigh people – there, I said it.

Seat I covet.

Seat I covet.

Bikes I covet.

Bikes I covet.

The other thing on my mind is the Coursera MOOC course on the Foundations of Business Strategy that is live NOW. I’ve taken distance learning courses in the past, but never a “massive” one. Things I’ll be looking out for as a learner include: content delivery mechanisms, how the social aspects of learning are integrated, quality of content in a massive learning environment/context (ie., differentials in previous knowledge, language barriers etc.), and generally reviewing the “worthwhileness” of the course (ie., would I recommend it or take another course).

I’ll also try to critically examine my own position as an educated North American and full-time working professional. How does my specific context impact learning outcomes and my expectations? In principle, I’m 100% for free and open online learning and I’m hyped about this experience. More to come.

Adhocracy NOW!

In the course of my morning routine of moping around until I find the perfect Songza playlist (today is Sunshine Indie Pop) I came across a new (at least for me) word – Adhocracy. Not only does it sound awesome, but there’s actually substance to its meaning. Once you read the wiki page for adhocracy, you’ll probably recognize a lot of its principles repeated in countless HR blogs and stuff you’d read about management and innovation on a daily basis on LinkedIn.

While the word is often used in theories of organizational management, I came across it because it was also the name of an exhibition for Istanbul Design Week (October 13 – December 12, 2012) that was showing at Galata Greek Primary School.

Exhibition view, Adhocracy. photo: flickr_Fablab Torino

Exhibition view, Adhocracy. photo: flickr_Fablab Torino

The spirit of adhocracy really resonates with me because it’s also what compelled me to start this blog and to revisit my creative practice. It’s process-driven, self reflexive, against bureaucracy and rigid structure, craft-based (as in artisanal, quality, opposition to mass produced), fluid and open. It’s an approach to work, and in the case of the exhibition – design, that while not altogether new is worth naming.

As Joseph Grima, co-curator of the Biennial notes, “Design is an act of observing, internalising, questioning and rethinking the prescribed responses to these queries, and thereby giving form to everyday life and collective space.”

So yes, adhocracy will be on my mind for the rest of the day…and hopefully something the Directors Collective will think on as we build something together.

The Art of Talk

The day has just begun and already I’m mourning the end of this long weekend. But, it’s OK because tomorrow night is the first meeting of Misha Glouberman’s negotiation and communications course entitled, “How to Talk to People About Things”.

As an artist there’s nothing more comforting than taking a time-out from the constant banter of the world and locking yourself up in the studio. As a consultant, sometimes I have to talk whether I feel like it or not. I’m not often at a loss for words, but I’m def. looking forward to meeting some new people and learning some new ways of taking the art of conversation (and negotiation) to the next level.

The Globe and Mail recently interviewed Misha about the upcoming course. Check it out here.