Design ManifesT.O 2020

Recipients of 2018 OCAD University Research Seed Grant, Associate Professor Cheryl Giraudy and Assistant Professor Saskia van Kampen, Faculty of Design have just launched a two­-year research effort with the working title Design ManifesT.O 2020: creating new ideas for Toronto. The project has begun with an audit of past and ongoing proposals, movements, policies, and calls to action that evolve art, design and creative endeavours of place­making as part of transforming the city, including aspirations for greater equity, democratic reform, infrastructure, transit, amalgamation, and neighbourhood redevelopment.

The project launched with a public panel discussion as part of the 2019 DesignTO Festival at the Open Gallery, 49 McCaul. The panel of community­-based activists, writers, critics, and makers, moderated by Councillor Kristyn Wong­Tam, Toronto Centre Ward 13, shared their stories for grassroot endeavours and disruptive strategies for place­making and included Author Dave Meslin, Community organizer Sabina Ali, Manager, Community + Policy Connections Ajeev Bhatia, and Public Art Critic Sarah Ratzlaff. Research Assistants Christine Xia and Samantha Matters contributed significantly to efforts of planning, and research collection. The research team has begun planning the second forum in collaboration with potential sponsors, and aimed for Scarborough neighbourhoods, to gather/listen to citizen efforts for community-based creative placemaking.

In conjunction with faculty partners, early plans for a ‘Creative Practice as Protest Workshop’ with Colloqate.Org, an award winning community platform for racial, social, and cultural equity in city­making, are being discussed, potentially aligned with a student competition for new ideas for Toronto. Stories and information collected from all events, forums, workshops, as well as interviews, will form a rich database to explore and ideally manifest a creative artefact, be it video, book or toolkit for planning Toronto 2020 and beyond.


Photograph of Borough Posters installed in the windows of 49 McCaul.
Guest Panelists Dave Meslin, Ajeev Bhatia in discussion prior to event in front of Borough Posters
Photo of Project Launch with Panel Discussion and Open Mic at Open Gallery 49 McCaul St
Photo of Research Collaborators Saskia Van Kampen, Cheryl Giraudy and Bryan Lee Jr., co-founder of Colloqate.Org meeting
Monday, February 4, 2019 - 10:30am
Lab Member: 
Cheryl Giraudy
Saskia van Kampen

Archivism: artist archives, intergenerational knowledge transfer and hybrid art production


This research-creation project asks, how a contemporary form of archive in the Lac La Croix First Nation can be launched, based in intergenerational knowledge transfer and hybrid artistic practices? This archive will include digitized recordings of elders that will be made available to both the local community and project participants.  It draws upon documentary and literary sources produced by the Lac La Croix community and artists Judith Doyle and Ron Geyshick in the mid-1980s.


Archivism aims to disrupt traditional boundaries between inside and outside the archive, mobilizing artist’s archives as dynamic, generative production tools. (1) This research-creation project asks, how a contemporary form of archive in the Lac La Croix First Nation can be launched, based in intergenerational knowledge transfer and hybrid artistic practices? This archive will include digitized recordings of elders that will be made available to both the local community and project participants.  It draws upon documentary and literary sources produced by the Lac La Croix community and artists Judith Doyle and Ron Geyshick in the mid-1980s.

Using the archived recordings as a starting point, this research will develop site-specific art and curatorial projects and educational workshops taking place at OCAD University and the Lac La Croix First Nation. These endeavours will be well documented and the information will be disseminated as artworks, refereed articles, publications, conference participation and a project website.

The research engages creative participants from Lac La Croix First Nation, Northwestern Ontario and OCADU in Toronto. We focus on creating new archives, engaging intergenerational knowledge transfer. Our research asks the following questions:

  • What can contemporary hybrid media approaches contribute to making things that become repositories of knowledge and affect?
  • Is an open access form of archive most appropriate? What are the balances between community use and broader accessibility?
  • How can archival recordings of elders who may have passed away, as well as documentation of altered, lost or endangered places and activities, become starting points for new works in different media? 
  • What mutual benefits accrue when urban artists and remote communities collaborate to respond to archival community materials?
  • Can we pair excerpts of archival recordings with creators who respond to the original record, either because they remember the person who spoke it, are a family member, or otherwise respond, leading to artistic collaborations to create affective new works?

Through collaborative processes we strive to create studio spaces and practices where contradictions and complexities within the stories emerge, where the specific texture and content of experiences of the community are affective and present. We neither seek nor avoid strong sensation and difficult experience.

This project seeks to create bridges and networks between studio and community practices grounded in both traditional materials and contemporary fabrication. It supports meaningful archival development, research, and material creation by and with indigenous communities, particularly the Lac La Croix First Nation, and provides a context for artists, students, and academics to engage with practice-led, research-creation and indigenous research methodologies.

(1) Interview, Simone Osthoff, ‘Archivism (the dynamics of archiving)’, Neural ISSUE 58/Autumn 2017.

For more information and to view the original documentary, please visit

Video still from "Lac La Croix (1998)" of two men
video still from "Lac La Croix (1998)" of Ron Geyshick standing before a cloudy sky
Wednesday, March 28, 2018 - 2:15pm
Lab Member: 
Judith Doyle
Embed Video: 

Thinking Through Craft and the Digital Turn

Thinking Through Craft and the Digital Turn is an ongoing research project.

Notions of craft and working by hand are inextricably linked in the popular imagination. Yet today's craft studios feature technological innovations such as 3D printing, laser cutting and computerized textile machinery. Students, faculty and technicians, in university studio departments, develop and explore the relationship of handwork to digital technologies daily. This study focuses on questions of how digital technologies intersect and combine with traditional, mechanical and hand fabrication processes, particularly the possible affordances of digital technology through embodied learning, a pedagogy of the whole body not just the intellect. The discourse is complex, however, autonomy and agency---the control of creative methods and output through materiality, tools and process---are central concerns in craft methodology. We interrogate the concepts of re- and deskilling as they pertain to craft and the digital turn.

In 2016, a study titled Craft, Pedagogy and the Digital Challenge sought to consider the place of teaching and learning digital craft at OCAD University from the perspectives of faculty, staff, and technicians. It identified the challenges of merging traditional techniques with the digital tools within an institution and finding ways of improving the gap between students, faculty, staff, technicians, and their work. OCAD Faculty, staff, and technicians who teach and facilitate traditional and digital craft methods provided insight and their perspectives through interviews.

Project Team:

     Dr. Lynne Heller (Material Art & Design) - Principal Investigator
     Dorie Millerson (Chair, Material Art & Design) - Principal Investigator
     Claire Bartleman - Graduate Research Assistant
     Ellie Manning - Undergraduate Research Assistant and Videographer
     Enna Kim - Undergraduate Research Assistant
     Keiko Hart - Research Assistant

Summary of study:

This research was inspired by the teaching environment of the Material Art and Design program, which includes the study of ceramics, jewellery and textiles practices. Research questions included, "What is the relationship between craft making traditions and the advent of advanced digital tools, and what are the pedagogical implications of that confluence"?

A number of faculty, staff and technicians who teach or facilitate digital craft methods were asked to participate in an interview for the Thinking Through Craft and The Digital Turn project. After consenting to participate in an interview and video, participants were given a list of questions in advance. Questions asked participants to discuss experiences in learning and teaching digital craft methods with reference to how they set goals or evaluate digital processes and what they see as the future of digital craft teaching. During the interviews PIs Heller and Millerson encouraged participants to answer or expand the questions in their own ways, which led to a variety of findings.

During the interviews RA Ellie Manning documented audio and visual material to create a video that was used in part to frame the presentation at the Canadian Craft Biennal (CCB) Conference on September 15th, 2017. In addition to the video, RA Claire Bartleman and PI Lynne Heller created a Research Wall in the host lab, the Data Materialization Studio. The Research Wall facilitated a visual and research-creation approach to the data collected and the theoretical stances being explored.

After the interviews, the research team chose a quote from each interview that best represented its participant. Quotes were then incorporated into posters designed by PI Lynne Heller. The posters were hung in the entrance to OCAD U during CCB conference proceedings. The intention in documenting and attributing quotes was to give a voice to the participants and draw attention to the findings of the project. The posters utilized a suffrage banner format as a framing device (based on the poster Standing Together ... by the National Women's Party, 1913-1920, as photographed in the exhibition Agitprop! at the Brooklyn Museum in 2016 by Alex Kittle).

The CCB Conference was well-attended and Hands on the Tech: Craft, Pedagogy and the Digital Challenge was scheduled for the session "Making Education: The Changing Nature of Teaching Craft", which was facilitated by PI Dorie Millerson and included papers from across the world. Heller and Millerson summarized their findings through the video, which was followed by a PowerPoint presentation. Afterwards, in a lively Q&A session, members of the audience asked questions about approaches to intersectional feminism within this context. The CPDC team described teaching practices that encourage students to investigate their own identities through their work and commented that there is an unequal gender representation in Material Art & Design that should be better understood and discussed. 

Moving forward, the Thinking Through Craft and The Digital Turn team is engaging student voices and collecting the findings, along with theoretical analysis, into an edited anthology focused on the relationship between teaching and learning digital craft. In order to expand the research across Canada the team has also applied for an Insight Grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC).

The research team realizes the world of digital craft is a complicated topic that requires more time to theorize than simply referring to the binaries of digital and analogue. The team believes in providing a voice to OCAD U faculty, staff and technicians and is looking forward to extending this opportunity to students. The Principal Investigators are developing more research with the Faculty and Curriculum Development Centre along with pursuing more funding to augment this initial pilot project.

Click here to view the Craft, Pedagogy and the Digital Challenge video recorded and edited by Ellie Manning, Undergraduate Research Assistant.

A note on the Posters: The quotes that appear on the posters below were developed from each of the inverviews undertaken and include two quotes from the Principal Investigators. The posters were an amalgam of both digital and analogue techniques. The banner image is based on the sufragette banner Standing Together ..., by the National Women's Party, 1913-1920 (as photographed by Alex Kittle in the exhibition Agitprop! at the Brooklyn Museum, 2016). The quotes were 'typeset' in Photoshop and then the posters were printed in black and white. Researchers then hand-coloured the posters using pastels.

The posters are currently being exhibited in OCAD U's Office of Research and Innovation and Faculty and Curriculum Development Centre.

Photograph of CPDC posters exhibited on a wall at OCAD U.
Photograph of PIs Dr. Lynne Heller and Dorie Millerson and Head of Instructional Services Daniel Payne in front of a poster.
Poster reading "Beautiful expensive machines are pretty useless if people do not know how to use them" - Nick Hooper
Poster reading "I like working with the malfunctioning of a computer as the focus of investigation" - Stan Krzyzanovski
Poster reading "It is rare that you just push a button and the hand is not further involved in the making" - Marie O'Mahony
Poster reading "Materiality is the message" - Lynne Heller
Poster reading "Machines do not run themselves" - Laurie Wassink
Poster reading "Whether it is digital or analogue the subjectivity of the maker is paramount" - Kathleen Morris
Poster reading "The digital privileges the design process over making" - Dorie Millerson
Poster reading "The digital calls into question the whole meaning of craft" - Greg Sims
Poster reading "The term rapid prototyping is somewhat of a misnomer" - Darrell Currington
Poster reading "How can we use this technology but make it human" - Chung-Im Kim
Photograph of Lynne Heller and Dorie Millerson speaking about their research to faculty and students at OCAD U
Photograph of viewers examining the hung posters
Saturday, January 26, 2019 - 10:30am
Lab Member: 
Lynne Heller
Dorie Millerson

The State of Blackness Database

Photo of community meeting participants by Anique Jordan.

The State of Blackness Database project is a searchable, web-based, annotated catalogue of key visual art productions, analytic essays, oral history interviews, research papers and colloquia presentations – produced by and about black Canadian artists, critics and curators from the late 1980s to the present.  The database seeks to provide visibility, and make accessible, information pertaining to black Canadian visual arts productions.

The State of Blackness Database will create a centralized site to house scholarly information and works by and about black artists and cultural producers. The database will provide access to material created by black artists, curators, and critics who, because of racial difference, have historically been at the margins of Canadian art production. It will centralize and disseminate knowledge from a cross section of disciplines including fine arts, design, and curatorial practice. The database will be made available in multiple modalities (text, image, and audio).

The database will provide insights into transcultural and transnational knowledge production in the context of Black Canada, highlighting its relationship to art education, the politics of representation, and inclusivity.

Content of The State of Blackness Database will include:

  • A listing of curators, contributors, and Black artists
  • Headshots, bios, and links to curators’ and artists’ website
  • Artworks
  • Past and current exhibitions projects curated by and about Black Canadian artists
  • Digital versions of exhibition catalogues
  • Essays, interviews, and papers on black Canadian visual art

This project will provide access to scholarly information on Canadian black visual art productions. It will also increase the visibility of black visual art and develop the Canadian discourse on Canadian black visual art. The project was inspired by discussions held at The State of Blackness: From Production to Presentation Conference.

Phase I (completed October 2017)

Vtape supported Phase 1 of the State of Blackness Database project. Vtape is a distributor of historical and contemporary media arts work by local, national, and international artists. It houses a research centre that caters to curators, scholars, educators, and the public. Vtape is also a world leader in the preservation and archiving of video art. The organization is committed to education and provides technical and research training to undergraduate and graduate students, cultural workers, and community groups through their internship programs.


Guided by Andrea Fatona, and Vtape’s Artistic Director Lisa Steele, researcher Elisha Lim compiled data on Black Canadian video production and presentation activities that have taken place between the early 1980’s through 1999, cataloguing key visual and media arts curatorial projects, analytic essays, oral history interviews, research papers and colloquia presentations — produced by and about black Canadian artists, critics and curators from the late 1980s to the present. The research included an exploration of the programming archive at A Space Gallery and the Vtape holdings.

A community meeting was held in late October to discuss and vision ways in which end users of the information- black artists, cultural producers and community members -  can contribute to the processes by which new categories are developed to describe the materials. Preview access of the Vtape catalogue and a list of holdings by black artists were given to all attendees.

Other Resources:
The State of Blackness Website
 The State of Blackness on Youtube
The State of Blackness: From Production to Presentation Conference


Group photograph of attendees at T.S.O.B. Vtape meeting
Wednesday, December 6, 2017 - 10:30am
Lab Member: 
Andrea Fatona

State of Blackness: From Production to Presentation Conference

The State of Blackness: From Production to Presentation Conference brought together artists, critics, and curators to develop art education practices as a way of rectifying the invisibility of Blackness in Canadian art curriculum.  It engaged participants in dialogue about the history, current state, and future of black diasporic artistic practice and presentation in Canada.

The State of Blackness: From Production to Presentation Conference focused on developing networks of engagement and knowledge exchange while developing methodologies and practices that inform the future of black Canadian artistic production and teaching.  The conference addressed:

  1. The role of post-secondary art education in perpetuating the invisibility of Blackness
  2. Broadening conversations and scholarship on the state of pedagogy in relation to blackness in Canada
  3. Making and strengthening connections across disciplinary fields including fine art, design, and curatorial practice
  4. Developing working education strategies that serve as resources for multicultural educators, curators, and researchers


The State of Blackness: From Production to Presentation was a two-day interdisciplinary conference held at OCAD University and the Harbourfont Centre of the Arts in February 2014. It brought together 42 artists, curators, academics, students, and multiple publics to engage in dialogue about the history, current state, and future of black diasporic artistic practice and presentation in Canada. The conference included closed working sessions and public events.

Since the demise of Canada’s national black arts service organization, CAN: BAIA, in the late ‘90s, there has been little public effort to engage the multiplicity of communities and discourses that define blackness and its expressive manifestations in the Canadian context.  The State of Blackness: From Production to Presentation conference was therefore a much-needed forum, as it placed issues of race and cultural difference at the center of a discussion with regards to the marginalization and simultaneous excess of Blackness in the realm of popular culture.

The State of Blackness: From Production to Presentation conference created an interdisciplinary approach to teaching practices and curriculum content development in both universities and galleries. It allowed scholars and curators to network and share pedagogical strategies for disseminating the works of black artists. Documentation of the conference via podcast (include link here) archives the activities of the conference and provides research data for academics.

This project served to enhance the visibility of black cultural production in the context of multicultural Canada, and broadened critical knowledge about art practices and products. While attending The State of Blackness conference, several delegates successfully proposed to further the discussion by holding another forum of Black curators during the professional preview of the 56th Venice Biennale. The conference was also the inspiration for the State of Blackness Database project.

Other Resources:
The State of Blackness Website
 The State of Blackness on Youtube
The State of Blackness Database project
Expanded Context: Black Canadian Curators at the 56th International Art Exhibition, the Venice Biennale 2015

Conference participants included: Karen Miranda Augustine, Deanna Bowen, Sandra Brewster, Charles Campbell, Mark V. Campbell, Wayde Compton, Julie Crooks, Erika DeFreitas, Pamela Edmonds, Dominique Fontaine, Honor Ford-Smith, Richard Fung, Sylvia Hamilton, Jérôme Havre, Ebony L. Haynes, Johanna Householder, Camille A. Isaacs, Michelle Jacques, Alice Ming Wai Jim, Betty Julian, Olivia McGilchrist, Anna Jane McIntyre, Megan Morgan, Charmaine Nelson, Abdi Osman, Michèle Pearson Clarke, AboubakarSanogo, Adrienne Shadd, Dionne Simpson, Rema Tavares, Camille Turner, Gaëtane Verna, Rinaldo Walcott, Genevieve Wallen, Syrus Marcus Ware, and Natalie Wood.

Photograph of conference participants by Ella Cooper.

The State of Blackness Logo - text and a gradient in stacked rectangles from black to gray
Group photograph of participants at The State of Blackness Conference
Ontario Arts Council logo
Wednesday, December 6, 2017 - 10:00am
Lab Member: 
Andrea Fatona

Vernacular Volumetric

Vernacular Volumetric is a research-creation project that uses speculative design to explore how volumetric video recording might look as a mundane future technology. It is part of a larger research investigation into the techno-social entanglements surrounding hybrid captured images.

The project seeks to envision and investigate the future of digital capture technologies in the creation, understanding, and use of everyday images. The project considers:

  1. How social and vernacular practices may impact volumetric capture
  2. The key affordances of a volumetric image
  3. The opportunities and challenges for this technology in relation to broader adoption and use
  4. How this technology may be appropriated and subverted by amateur practitioners

Vernacular Volumetric is a pilot project intended to develop into a broader scale research agenda exploring digital capture.

Hybrid image capture practices, including volumetric capture, are becoming increasingly common. Such projects showcase the incredible potential for this mode of computationally-enhanced capture, but also present a number of emerging issues. These technologies are, for the most part, restricted to technologically-savvy and well-funded art technologists, with the most common path of exploration being high-end production. Additionally, the rapid adoption and development of this technology has not been accompanied by a substantive reflective practice or analysis. Important questions remain with regard to our understanding and relationships to these images, and what this technology might look like upon wider consumer adoption.

Vernacular Volumetric is an initial exploration into hybrid image capture technology, specifically volumetric video recording, as it might look as a mundane future technology. The project examines the future of everyday hybrid image capture in the shift from professional to consumer adoption, with a specific focus on future vernacular (everyday) practices in the context of post-photographic discourse. This work project is also contextualized within discourse surrounding image creation, reception, and everyday use.

Using speculative scenarios, Vernacular Volumetric creates a series of small-scale image prototypes using volumetric capture. This series serves as a prompt for further discussion and research development in hybrid image capture technologies and practices. The project utilizes speculative design, a discursive approach which focuses on using the design process as a tool for envisioning and interrogating potential design futures. 

This research caters to a growing interest in the impact of emerging technology on approaches to non-fiction media production. It forms the basis for a broader examination of how digital technologies impact capture practices, and helps ensure that the development and conceptualization of hybrid image technology is not limited to high-end approaches and can instead be engaged by diverse socio-cultural practices.

Image prototype using volumetric capture: two views from different angles of a figure standing in a rectangular prism
Photograph of the team working in the lab, two people discussing content of a large computer screen amidst notes
Friday, November 24, 2017 - 12:00pm
Lab Member: 
Cindy Poremba

Visualization of Complex Medical Data Using Next-Generation Holographic Techniques

PHASE Labs intends to make medical imaging more accurate and accessible by developing a  viewing/work station that translates 3D medical data into holographic form for printing, at a vastly reduced cost.

PHASE Labs will accomplish this goal by:

  • Developing techniques and processes for printing 3D scan data in digital holographic form
  • Creating a software application that allows the user to compose the MRI data in standard compositions, preview what the final hologram will look like and send the data, via a secure server to corporate partners for printing


Medical professionals currently rely on 2D viewing methods to interpret medical information gathered from 3D scans of data. Unfortunately, this system results in a loss of spatial information. Anatomical information could be better represented for purposes of analysis, diagnostics, forensics, and healthcare records if medical professionals were provided with another dimension of information to work with. This could be achieved through holographic technology, which would allow 3D medical data to be viewed in 3D.

While the technology to create medical holograms exists, it is rarely used due to high cost and inconvenience. PHASE Lab proposes to create a software application that will readily, accessibly, and affordably create print-ready holographic medical images from MRI scanners and other 3D imaging devices. These images will be sent directly and securely to PHASE Lab’s industry partner for printing, eliminating the need for time-consuming rendering and image processing.

Current research in field of medical holography is focused on using data sets derived from anatomical data banks created by artists and designers instead of medical visualization experts. Holograms created from this data are only a representation of human anatomy as a visualization. In contrast, PHASE Labs intends to make holograms of actual human anatomy by using 3D medical data obtained by medical professionals.

PHASE Lab’s software application will included a file format definition and a network communications protocol data viewing software. It will permit the user (a medical professional anywhere on the globe) to compose 3D data sets (for example, from an MRI scan) and preview a detailed holographic simulation. When ready, the print ready data will be transmitted, via a secure server, to PHASE Labs corporate partner's site for printing. The resulting holographic output may then be shipped out to the end user on the same day it is submitted.

When used for diagnosis, this new output for data may well provide additional information about the subject that cannot be understood by viewing it in 2D. In addition to improving the experience of medical professionals this project has the potential to make patients more familiar with their own medical data, as a 3D visualization is more intuitively intelligible than a 2D representation. Next-generation digital holography will change how medical workers look at certain complex 3D data, and the knowledge base gleaned from this new research, can help develop other pipelines to other imaging modalities from the art & design, architecture and gaming industries.

View related Phase Lab projects here: 
Responsive Brain Holograms
The Haptic Holography Project



Image of a holograph of live brain scan, showing different active regions of the brain in red, green, and blue
Monday, November 20, 2017 - 1:45pm
Lab Member: 
Michael Page