Colin Clark: constructing an experience.

“Is art a message packed up in a medium and then something we receive?” Colin Clark is sure that this depiction of art is too simple by far. For one, no one has the same feelings or the same thoughts when they look at an artwork. And when you try to tell someone else what you experienced, they may hear or visualize something totally different. photoworkshopFriday

The idea of translation of art may therefor be ‘a hopeless thing’ as Clark points out, but an active, participatory experience has great independent worth because it creates new artworks through the simple act of doing, of acting, of experiencing. No, we may not all have the same experience. Listening to classical music may be different for someone hard of hearing or deaf.

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Yet, we can all simply love the experience we do have; one we partly create ourselves.

Charles: “Even when you can’t hear or see, there is nothing redundant, nothing missing: a piece can be expressed by audio, video, vibration- you’re not always getting the information from one source.”

The participants in the workshop receive cards with which to make a musical composition. It is a layered experience. Making music isn’t necessarily making sound. Inaction counts as an action of some sorts. photo 4Anything, really, counts as music in this circle. You can scratch your nose, you can do a duet. You can breathe and walk around.

The cards tell the musicians to breathe three times, make their action, breathe three times, make their second action, breathe three times and so on.

Clarke tells them to read it softly, sing it, say it aloud, chant, move around… People pick up a variety of hand held instruments.

Someone asks what do we do when we can’t move most of our body?
Clark is ready for this too and Cathy explains that anyone can dance with their mind, dance with their eyes, dance with someone who *can* move and direct them. Everyone is included in the performance.

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For the last piece people are asked to pick a partner, in their mind, and act every time their partner acts. The following piece leads to much hilarity as two people have picked each other and repeat their sounds in an ever quickening pace of laughing sounds and rattling little bells. When Spencer acts, it is to drag the chair away from Mohsen as he continues drumming, and they go back and forth accompanied by hysterical laughter that stops as the musician starts to get tired.

There is no stated end to the performance, and the room slowly goes quiet as some people stop, resulting in others to lose their partners and coming to a stop themselves.
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It’s truly a performance where musicians themselves, each on their own and together with their partner, construct a lively, beautiful, surprising piece of music. It’s a fun experience and a good end to a long week.


Human Writes by Jan Derbyshire.

“One of the saddest things in life is that we have this alphabet, 26 letters in spoken english, we have this alphabet and we are afraid to use it,” Jan Derbyshire starts the workshop with a piece of white paper and the letters of the alphabet.

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She adds ‘mind, rearrange and BEGIN’ to the board and leads the group through three rounds of spoken words. First Derbyshire asks them to hold a squooshy ball and describe what they can pretend it is. Then she asks them to give it a funny voice and let it say something… anything.

The third round has people talking about what drives them mad. And that is what they start writing about. The thing that makes it easier to write for ten minutes without stopping and without allowing the editor from within to stop your voice from appearing on paper is that you are not writing from your own point of view. You keep that quiet. You write from the point of view of an object in your house that you have identified earlier. For some it is a stick, for others it is flowers or a part of their wheelchair.

The continuous writing proves to be cathartic. The group feels safe enough for people to be angry, to cry and to be funny about very private things. Derbyshire explains that in a longer workshop she would help the writers put together from the pages of unfinished sentences, cut-off words and a dearth of punctuation, a monologue that can be performed or read in quiet. Something to show that we can all write.

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Something to show that when you silence the editor within and write out your thoughts without hesitation, that when you throw 90 percent away, what is left is something that you haven’t said before or not in that particular way and that it will be something that connects people to yourself. Something that will stick people to you like the sticky papers a different group stuck to the floor in the earlier workshop; the workshop about what connects people to each other. These fresh thoughts compel the listener to immerse themselves in the world that the writer’s imagination calls forth.

These hands were made for speaking.

Artist, designers and public- look at their hands. photo 1-2

We use them to elucidate a point, comfort each other when the installation breaks down, ask for room for our wheelchair and to speak to each other in ASL.

Tonight, at the Inclusive Design Institute we see more hand gestures than ever.

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Some installations are all about user interface design, others beg to be touched. And at this exhibition you can.

Accessibility is not a word that OCADU only throws around in its second year Inclusive Design class.

Although we need more of it in every class, you can see on a night like tonight that the designers and artists of OCADU start thinking about their project with Access as a starting point.

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Not something dropped in when your project is done, but something without which your project can’t get off the ground at all.

At OCADU students- people with disabilities- design.

They are the ones making us question the constructs around disabilities.

And they have done it with humour, with electronics, with sadness, anger, with pencils, with wood, with metal and with the cool, clear knowledge that they are unique, excellent designers and artists whose disabilities and experience are a terrific source of inspiration. photo 5-1

Eye gesture based communication

Alexei Vella’s ‘Vessel’ suspended in air. This young man couldn’t leave the installation.

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An eye gesture based communication system. Sit in front of it and let your eyes guide the keys on the keyboard. The verbalized equivalent of Toronto’s Eagle-eyes eye gesture based 2-1

Opening night.

OCADU president Sarah Diamond makes a round with post-doc David Perreyra.

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Attendees mingle at the Inclusive Design Institute. Just enough room for conversation and for a close look at the art work.

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Interacting with design. Learning Chinese with the Simpsons.

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Workshop ‘Open Space’ with Judith Snow and Mike Skubic.

Workshop ‘Open Space’ by Judith Snow & Mike Skubic. Thursday 1-4:30pm.

Open Space

The construct of disability – a loved and hated context- which for so many of us relentlessly shapes our lives! Spend an afternoon in a gently facilitated potpourri of conversations where you can express yourself and be”gotten” in your own perspective.