Suspended (2018)

Photographic installation, 66“ h x 78” w x 5” d, collaged imagery, inkjet print on archival paper, mylar, corplast, clear cling, magnets

Collaged photographs and drawings that mine childhood memories, reflecting the volatility of nature, community and identity. 

With a Jewish father and an Anglo-Protestant mother, as a child, Lynne Heller, a multi- disciplinary artist, felt a sense of displacement in many settings. Raised in a distinctly gentile part of Toronto where her Jewish background set her apart, her experience of Jewish community was found at the summertime family retreat Camp Naivelt (Yiddish for “New World”). Located in Brampton, it was centred on secularist, progressive socialist values, activism, and a celebration of Jewish and Yiddish culture. At one time Naivelt was frequented by up to 5,000 people on any given weekend. While growing up, the artist experienced it as a place of sanctuary and freedom. 

The installation references a poignant childhood memory. Visiting Naivelt in the spring off-season, Heller’s family came upon enormous ice floes ejected from the Credit River that runs through the camp. Unpeopled and distant from the bustle and heat of summer, the site was made stranger still by this dramatic scene. Heller’s father lifted her onto one ice mass, which was taller than her seven-year-old stature, and she observed debris and fish frozen within. From that vantage point, she looked back to the one-lane bridge, the only passageway over the river and into the property. 

This eerie landscape and recollections frozen in time echo the dislocation of Heller’s upbringing. The massive ice blocks were both organic and oddly unnatural. Similarly, Heller felt both integrated into the Naivelt community during the 1960s and 70s yet often felt outside that milieu given her mixed heritage. And this haven of radical politics was in itself outside the norms of the Jewish mainstream. The ice-covered land evoked the gradual deterioration of the site that she witnessed alongside the dwindling of the community. Naivelt continues until today albeit with more modest participation. 

In the exhibition, the terrain of memory interweaves with the textures of College Street as perennial graffiti markings on our window enter the piece, linking the past with present-day realities where the artist’s self-conception is firmly grounded. An image of the Naivelt bridge appears, signaling possibilities in connecting two seemingly distinct realms, holding out the potential for crossing into the promise of a new world. 

Photograph of installation
Photographic detail of installation
Photographic detail of installation
Photographic detail of installation
Photograph of the installation as seen at night, across the street on College St.
Thursday, March 7, 2019 - 4:30pm
Lab Member: 
Lynne Heller

Memory and Fiction in Gothic Spaces

Saturday, April 21, 2018 - 12:00pm to Sunday, April 29, 2018 - 5:00pm

Memory and Fiction in Gothic Spaces is a thesis exhibition by MFA candidate Brianne Service, examining how we look at and experience Gothic interior space. Informed by an interdisciplinary methodology, Service's art practice explores the themes of the sublime and the uncanny, conveying natural phenomenon entering the interiors, and ultimately asks the viewer to question and reflect on the real and the unreal.

Venue & Address: 
Graduate Gallery, 205 Richmond St. W
Memory and Fiction

Elders, Memory & Data Visualization: Changing Aging Cues with News Media

This project explores memory, embodiment, and the social interactions of elders and others using digital media experiences and simulated virtual reality, which targets memory. Through testing with personal images, and news video from the CBC Newsworld archives, with our current and prospective prototypes, we demonstrate the generation of new conceptual lenses, technological forms and experiences that may enrich the lives of elders and have potential benefits for their families and caregivers, and other communities of participants.

This project investigates how digital technology can stimulate the memories of older adults and improve their cognitive function by using an audio-visual dataset of historical CBC news.

Key Considerations:

  • How might a multimodal, personalized digital media application with embodied, social interaction create a form of “virtualized” reality?
  • Could this experience evoke memories and improve memory recall?
  • How might this experience enhance social connection?
  • How can we build user interfaces that optimally support seniors’ comprehension, use, browsing, and interactions with digital/mobile devices?
  • How can effective 2D/3D aesthetic visualizations be created to give non-expert users a sense of a personal relationship with the data they are observing?Can such new media and VR/AR applications assist elders by enhancing memory, and other cognitive abilities?
  • Can we produce feelings of pleasure and delight in our elder audiences, and enhance this joyful interaction by including caregivers, family and friends?


Premise and Research Question:

With an aging population, there is an increasing need for facilities, activities and technologies that support and enrich the experiences of seniors. Environments that foster mental acuity, cognition, and physical health are in increasing demand.

How might we create applications and digital/virtual experiences that can enhance self-actualisation, and support elder’s abilities, cognition, memory, and social interactions?

Experimental Prototypes:

Our researchers have created and demonstrated 2D and real and simulated 3D aesthetic visualizations to give non-expert users a sense of relationship with the data we are displaying. We have created new media applications that simulate “virtualized” realities, by stimulating memory and recall. These applications may assist elders by acquiring new technical skills, and enhancing memory, mental acuity, personal interaction and communication, and cognitive abilities.

This project is highly multidisciplinary (involving interaction design, mobile technologies, natural language processing, video search, big data, quantified self-actualisation, and data visualisation, gerontology, psychology) and employs multiple prior developments: Postcard Memories, a networked, tablet application that facilitates creative, interactive sharing of family memories, and the CBC Newsworld Holodeck, a gesture-based, immersive installation which  simulates a virtual experience using large digital audio-video multi-screen environments, a gestural interface, and content from 24 years of CBC Newsworld programming.

Participant Studies:

Through user studies and participant observations we have found that when an internalized virtual reality is created in participants, it can have cognitive and affective benefits, which are also replicated in the elderly and those with some memory loss. The analysis of results from a user study with the Postcard Memories application suggests that the application improved connection and communication between elders and their family members, friends, and caregivers. Elder participants agreed that both applications helped them to recall personal stories, which enabled them to communicate more openly with others. Participant observation studies of the CBC Newsworld Holodeck installation have similarly found an improvement in users’ social interactivity and memory recall. Participants have also reported feelings of increased self-actualization, while others have displayed increased conversational opportunities, and interests in technology, and the news content they viewed.

New Developments:

We are now developing a new geographical interface and a touch-screen environment, enabling multi-user data interactions, in collaboration with industry partner GestureTek. Our aim is develop data visualizations methods that will enhance user interaction with specific ‘drilling down’ to keyword sensitive data, to aid participants’ interaction with this multi-year CBC corpus. Our research points to innovation in novel search-and-display techniques which we will continue to refine and develop through iterations of additional ‘days’ in the data corpus, chosen by users for personal significance.

If valid evidence of positive health effects is derived, this could be a commercialisable method and product, delivering health effects to significant numbers. There is further potential to continue development of tools related to video browsing, search-and-display technologies and associated user interface-design, with committed industry partners GestureTek.


Our efforts have yielded delightful results and some valuable insights. We have and will build user interfaces that support seniors’ comprehension and adoption, assisting them to build their social interactions, technological competencies, and feelings of self-hood.

Click here to see Visual Analytics Lab's video on the CBC Holodeck

Click here to see a demonstration of the Postcard Memories Application

See more from our contributors:
Dr. Martha Ladly
Dr. Gerald Penn
Dr. Frank Rudzicz
Kartikay Chadha


Photograph of a  person's hand, using a tablet to selecting images from the CBC News Holodeck
Photograph of two screens and computers displaying the Holodeck setup
Close-up of hand making selections in the Postcard Memories app
Photograph of an individual using the postcard memories app. Their selection appears on a tablet and a large wall mounte screen
Photograph of CBC Newsworld Holodeck - several news clips from different years displayed concurrently
GRAND NCE Funding Logo
Gesturetek corporate logo: blue text on a white background
Friday, September 29, 2017 - 12:00pm
Lab Member: 
Martha Ladly
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Before I Forget

Before I Forget Invite
Wednesday, September 10, 2008 - 4:00am to Sunday, October 5, 2008 - 4:00am

How do we consume our own memories?

Before I Forget... features the work of Integrated Media students Jo Alcampo, Liam Crockard, Dylin North, and Steve Shaddick as they survey the vagaries of memory via digital technology. Through web based archiving, live video environments, interactive sound sculpture, and video installation they probe a culture of mixed messages and malleable mediums. Curated by Matthew Williamson.

Venue & Address: 
Student Gallery 285 Dundas Street West, 1st Floor, Toronto, Ontario

Scotiabank Nuit Blanche - Reasons to celebrate!

Image from Chthuluscene, by PVS
Friday, October 2, 2015 - 4:00am

This Saturday “We’ve Been Expecting You” signs that are on lampposts around Toronto should prove accurate, but with a twist. About a million people will hit the streets to expect the unexpected.

That evening until sunrise will be the 10th annual Scotiabank Nuit Blanche, a dusk-to-dawn art event that has earned a place as one of the centerpieces of Toronto’s cultural calendar.

In a city rich with experiences this year that range from the Pan Am Parapan Games to  the Blue Jays’ playoff drive, Toronto’s art-all-nighter is a special cause to celebrate. It’s a sign of a city playing at the top of its game when its public officials, its businesses and its people, recognize the importance of culture as the driving force for the economy, for tourism and social connectivity.

This year’s Scotiabank Nuit Blanche promises a wide variety of art and locations, for the first time including Toronto’s waterfront. There are curated programs by Agustin Pérez Rubio and Christine Shaw; an entire district by artist JR; and 10 for 10th — Memory Lane, assembled by Che Kothari. In this program OCAD U joins other Nuit Blanche institutional sites, including the TIFF Bell Lightbox, the Art Gallery of Ontario, Royal Ontario Museum, University of Toronto, Gladstone Hotel, Drake 150, Gardiner Museum, Bata Shoe Museum and Artscape Wychwood Barns to celebrate the Nuit Blanche 10th anniversary. 

Experience points to several reasons why Nuit Blanche is a hit. It ignites peoples’ imaginations through engaging and challenging art. It is an opportunity for a first exposure to visual art for a younger audience and out-of-town visitors. It’s a social blender, drawing individuals, families and communities from the GTA and far beyond.

Nuit Blanche draws criticism — all answerable. Some say that the event has strayed too far from its original focus on art, filling the streets with enthusiastic, rowdy young crowds that are out for a good time.

Others say that there’s too much corporate involvement and focus on cultural tourism. Or they challenge the quality of the art works; find the art inaccessible.  Most importantly, some question the episodic nature of the event, expressing the concern that resources are focused on a one-time experience that does not train and retain an audience for contemporary art.

As Chair of the Volunteer Nuit Blanche Advisory Committee, I take these concerns seriously. It is true that Nuit Blanche relies on a mix of public and corporate support — it is a model for a successful approach to arts funding.  The payback to Toronto is meaningful.  Its impact since 2006 has grown from $1 million to $40.5 million last year, a lot of money flowing into Toronto’s economy for just one night.

Rowdy? Perhaps. Nuit Blanche is noisy and boisterous but it’s also fun and engages young and old as culturally diverse audiences interact with and comment on art works. Other countries in the world rejoice in cultural events that create a communal spirit around culture. Why not Toronto?  We have embraced Nuit Blanche, an arts-based concept that began in Paris in 2002 and spread to Montreal, Bucharest, Riga, Tokyo, and now Edmonton.

If people scratch their heads about some of the art they encounter, Nuit Blanche is doing its job. Contemporary art plumbs issues and allows its’ viewers to pause and experience the world in different ways. The City of Toronto and the curators work hard to choose work ranging from the spectacular to the intimate and is of the highest quality.

Nuit Blanche draws a wide audience.  This is a good thing, one that institutions can build on.  To respond to concerns about the lasting impacts of the night, Nuit Blanche has established Extended Projects to ensure that some works are accessible to the public for a longer time.  Let’s take the opportunity to review and refresh our public art policies in Toronto and find ways to retain some of the imaginative large-scale pieces that are part of Nuit Blanche on a permanent basis. 

I am proud that OCAD University has been a sponsor and leader in making Scotiabank’s Nuit Blanche a ten-year success.  OCAD U is pleased to be part of Nuit Blanche and keen to champion it and show leadership. Art makes Toronto great and we are living in great times.

- Sara Diamond

Call for Submissions: Scotiabank Nuit Blanche Projects

Scotiabank Nuit Blanche logo
Tuesday, February 3, 2015 - 5:00am to Tuesday, February 17, 2015 - 5:00am

Independent Projects

The Independent program has been assigned a curator for the first time in its 10-year history.

Toronto artists, museums, galleries, cultural and educational institutions, neighbourhoods and BIAs are invited to submit their proposals to be an Independent Project under the curatorial vision of "Memory Lane."

Watch Curator Che Kothari explain his curatorial vision for "Memory Lane" in a new video , visit the FAQs, Independent Projects 2015 Application Guidelines and Independent Projects 2015 Application for more details.

New this year - "10 for 10th"

To celebrate the 10th edition of Scotiabank Nuit Blanche, the City of Toronto is engaging major cultural organizations across the city and creating a City co-produced exhibition area that responds to the curatorial vision, "Memory Lane" for the Independent Project program. "10 for 10th" is an application process within the Independent Projects program where artists can apply to have their project situated in one of the participating partner venues with funding and production support provided.

The "10 for 10th" venues are listed in the Independent Projects Application form.

How to Apply:

  • Download the event GUIDELINES (PDF) and appropriate APPLICATION form.

  • Read the Guidelines before completing the Application.

  • For the "10 for 10th" and Independent Projects you can choose to apply to one or both programs using the same Application form.

  • Complete all fields within the Application form. If you're not able to access the Word forms, please email to request assistance. (Please note that in order to be considered you must fill out the relevant Application form and adhere to all programming criteria and submission requirements).

  • Email your Application and attachments to Please label your email subject heading as "Independent Project Application" and add your ARTIST/ORGANIZATION NAME. e.g. Subject: Independent Project Application - from Art Group Name.

  • You may send email attachments including PDF, jpg, mp3 and avi files. Please do not send eps or psd files. This mailbox can only accept attachments up to 5MB in total size. Please label all attachments with your name and your project's title.

  • If your Application was submitted successfully, you will receive an email response within two business days. If you do not receive this message, your Application was not submitted successfully.

FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions

Submission Deadline - "10 for 10th" and Independent Projects:

Tuesday, February 17, 2015.
Late or incomplete applications will not be accepted.
For more information, email:

Applicants should be aware that their participation in Scotiabank Nuit Blanche's Open Call, Independent Projects and "10 for 10th" is not automatic solely on the basis of meeting the general eligibility requirements. All Applications are curated/juried against the criteria outlined in the Guidelines and selected based on artistic merit and project feasibility.

Follow: @sbnuitblancheTO Tag: #snbTO

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Strategic Foresight students' Remembrance project

Logo for Reset Remembrance Project
Tuesday, November 11, 2014 - 4:45pm

Last year, four OCAD University graduate students in the Strategic Foresight and Innovation program were stunned to discover that 16% of homeless people on Toronto’s streets and in shelters served in the military. This spark led Kelly Kornet, Krittika Sharma, Ron Memmel and William Georg to spend weeks researching this issue to try to understand the struggles that veterans face after their release from the military.

This year the team is asking Canadians - and everyone else - to move beyond remembrance and to learn about the struggle veterans face when returning to civilian life.

The project attempts to inform and walk the public through the military journey in order to shed light on the reality of what military personnel experience in the field. The team has worked on a potential solution to help veterans transition back from military life to civilian life and provides a visual map that shows the journey of soldiers transitioning from civilian culture to military culture and back to civilian culture again.

The project and campaign can be accessed though:


Perceptual experiences of memory loss focus of media installation at Baycrest Health Sciences

Monday, February 11, 2013 - 5:00am

(Toronto—February 11, 2013) What does it feel like to have amnesia? How does one relate to space and place when robbed of the ability to create new personal memories? Can today’s hyper-connected, technology-driven world help people with serious memory impairment re-engage in the community and regain their voices?

Pathfinding, a media art exhibit which opens at Baycrest Health Sciences this week, sets out to answer these reflective questions. Inspired by Judith Doyle, a senior filmmaker and new media artist who is chair of the Integrated Media Program at OCAD University, the installation was created by two participants of Baycrest’s Memory Link program, both of whom have a severe type of amnesia. They worked on the project with Doyle and her assistant Emad Dabiri, well-known for his VJ live video mixes produced with Videodrome.


Robin Len, 48, and, Kang Il-Kim, 23, have anterograde amnesia. This type of amnesia inhibits the ability to create new memories, although long-term memories prior to injury remain intact. Robin suffered his brain injury in a cycling accident; Kang from a brain tumor and subsequent surgeries. Both were participants in Baycrest’s innovative Memory Link program which uses specialized, cognitive training to help clients with severe amnesia learn to use smartphones, the iPod Touch and other handheld technologies as assistive memory aids.

With backgrounds in television and film study, Robin and Kang were interested in collaborating with Doyle on the Pathfinding project. The process involved shooting clips of imagery, editing and combining the clips, and devising an installation for exhibition of the video.  Pathfinding evokes aspects of the experience of memory and memory loss. Robin and Kang participated in all aspects of the project – videotaping, editing, planning, equipment sourcing, image composition, developing the installation setup, and contributing to printed matter. The collaboration has continued for over a year and combines real-world interaction as well as online and phone support.

“Baycrest embraces strategies for integrating creative expression into a client-centred approach to care,” says Bianca Stern, director of Culture, Arts and Innovation at Baycrest.  “Our ongoing partnerships with faculty and students from OCAD University, as well as collaborations with artists from across Canada, are providing Baycrest with new ways of exploring the impact of artful engagement on the wellbeing of adults with mental and physical impairments.” OCAD University received Baycrest’s Proud Partners Award in 2012. 

“The four of us worked closely in the digital studio of the Social Media and Collaboration Lab (SMAClab) which I direct. We filled it with vintage TVs for our experimentation, attracting many curious onlookers,” said Doyle, who received an OCAD University award in 2012 for Distinguished Research and Creative Activity. “For Pathfinding, we created a new form of media arts-based collaboration that tapped into preserved memory and embodied knowledge. Outcomes were positive for Robin and Kang. This is a central focus of my art practice.”

Pathfinding is on display at Baycrest Health Sciences
3560 Bathurst St., Toronto
from February 14 to March 1, 2013 
*Opening Night reception for media is Wednesday, February 13, 5 to 7 p.m.

The project received support from the Ontario Arts Council (Artists in the Community/Workplace), Brain Injury Services of Hamilton, and the Integrated Media Program and SMAClab at OCAD University.

About Baycrest
Headquartered on a 22-acre campus in Ontario and fully affiliated with the University of Toronto, Baycrest is a global leader in innovations in aging and brain health.

About OCAD University
OCAD University, founded in 1876, is dedicated to art and design education, practice and research and to knowledge and invention across a wide range of disciplines.

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Kelly Connelly, Senior Media Officer
Baycrest Health Sciences

Sarah Mulholland, Media & Communications Officer
416-977-6000 x327 (mobile x1327)