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The Green Blackboard April 27, 2010

Posted by Maxyne Baker in : Check it out , add a comment

beyond the cavemanObsessed admittedly, I returned to the AGO to take a photo of the piece that has stayed in my mind since our visit. Of course, I didn’t think I was responding to this assignment,  hence I had no camera, and made no notes friday before last.
I refer to the green chalkboard on the 4th floor. It  was a preservation  of  the lecture notes from a visiting artist at NASCAD. NASCAD had the vision to cover it and call it art. Without notes I hesitate to say it was made in the 80’s.  I found it interesting that it reflected the format and purpose of our Chaortic Collaboratorium. Beyond this, the content  brought to mind cave drawings, or battle strategy  plans  in particular.
I have recently been reading a wonderful book about Asian Art titled ” The Unknown Craftsman” written by Soetsu Yanagi. In this book of essays Yanagi expands on the simple happiness in “doing” without seeking perfection and expands on how some of the finest Asian Art was made in this manner. One story in particular stands out as he describes how Korean children , illiterate, would be employed in the making of tea cups. Although they couldn’t even read the characters on the cups they where painting these cups are esteemed as some of the best examples of Asian art simply because of the children’s purity within the simple act of “doing”.

The green chalkboard was covered with a combination of words, gestures and shapes used to communicate, hurried and efficient, implying movement, hierarchy, concepts. Perhaps not unlike an ancient cave or cliff drawing, our simple drawings made with sticks in the sand, similar in that they are all  a diagram/storyboard,  and like the tea cups mentioned above, the maker was passionately distracted by the auditory accompaniment of their own voice, therefore using simple imperfect marks and gestures. The strategies of a hunt, or the plan of a village have been eternally defined and explored in the same way since time began. Still used essentially  in the way we design today. And that is really, exciting. Technology and time have brought us many more tools to use as well , and they are greatly appreciated, yet this simple mark making  seems to be part of our fundamental, eternal needs as humans.

Consciously, un-consciously I could look at cryptic ambiguous images such as these forever. The Chalkboards mysterious nature me has completely sucked in .  What was said in that lecture.? Again admittedly obsessed, reflectively processing.
Observing this piece and it’s initially unconscious act of mark making by the lecturer, followed by a very self conscious elaboration by the good folks at NASCAD does make it conceptual art. Yet I can’t think of another piece in the gallery that began with the unconcious act of mark making as the chalkboard did . Mark making used to expand the art of communication.

I think I prefer in some ways not knowing the name of the person who initially made the marks on that chalkboard at NASCAD. It seems fitting that the “Unknown Craftsman” helped me see the beauty in a contemporary Western piece of art, a simple green chalkboard that I will personally always refer to as  “The Unknown Designer”.

AGO’s Best & Worst April 20, 2010

Posted by Magdalena Malik in : Check it out, Exer5 (makeup): Experiencing AGO, Exercises , add a comment

The Toronto AGO gallery attracts many people around the globe every day. The subject matter distributed within its walls carries history and foretells wisdom by the work of unique artists. More than 79,000 creations of artwork are kept and viewed by various collections. These collections range from pieces of European Art to Contemporary, Canadian, British, American, and French work. This list is endless and grows quite rapidly. There is a grand diversity in which people are naturally drawn to. No wonder AGO is so popular!

I have had the pleasure to visit the AGO gallery many times throughout my first year at OCAD. I have studied its paintings, photos, sculptures, styles and various mediums used throughout the artist’s collections. In doing so, I have learned plenty of information and come to establish my opinions as to what I like and dislike about the AGO gallery.

In my point of view, the best aspects of AGO must include the following: magnificent architecture, spacious rooms, classy décor, and of course the artwork itself. The architecture is very intriguing and creative such as one of the staircases located in the center of the gallery. The staircase spins towards the top as a cyclone. Very cool! Majority of the rooms that hold artwork are very grand in scale and create a very airy atmosphere. The gallery itself is very taken care of and clean. Visitors appreciate cleanliness. I admire the fact that multiculturalism is respected. The art stored in this gallery is made from many aspiring and talented artists all around the world! I adore looking at it. The social and cultural diversity amongst visitors is also perceived.

In the contrary, an issue I do have is that many artworks do not exemplify an explanation as to what a certain object, painting or picture are presenting. The deep meaning or message is probably the viewer’s obligation to figure out or think about using personal knowledge. But honestly speaking, some artworks are really tough to figure out. An example would be a metal spoon and chair I viewed at the AGO a couple days ago at the structure department. I really had no clue as to what the display meant. A handy solution would be to place a small description as to what the artist was trying to convey in their art piece. With such statement the viewer can think about what they themselves thought, the artist’s message and the public’s opinion.

Also, I agree with Christina Dery, the gift shop is way too expensive!

The AGO gallery holds many memories and future experiences that are very important to me. It’s a place of history, education, tradition, confession, story-telling, survival and most important, adventure!

Written by Mag M.

Best and Worst of the AGO April 20, 2010

Posted by Christina Mary Dery in : Check it out, Exer5 (makeup): Experiencing AGO, Exercises , add a comment

AGO logo

Having been to the AGO many times, this trip in particular opened my eyes to the positive areas of the ago as well as those that need to be improved on. My first impression when i entered the AGO (entrance) was that they have a quite attractive design in the lobby with clear signage for each area and where each thing is located. They have the signage in both English and French (which most likely excludes many people in Toronto, since it is so multicultural). The one thing that I really like about the design is that the ramp is designed in a fun, unique way (but may be annoying for people in wheel chairs because it has a winding path). Another thing i like is that they use nice bright colours for the signs above the areas. Although the lobby is always quite busy, this visit was extra busy with all the various school trips.


AGO ramp

Inside the AGO there are various architectural  elements that are really quite fascinating. The winding wooden staircase is my favorite part of the architecture. It not only looks nice but also doubles as an attraction where on the upper levels the staircase goes outside the building and offers an incredible view of Toronto and OCAD of course. This provides a reflective reaction in that the participant in the environment reflects on the view and creates an emotional reaction.


AGO staircase

The main part of the attraction to the AGO of course is the art. Art itself in a gallery form mostly provides the viewer with a reflective reaction as the viewer reflects on the meaning of the art, the reasons it was done, what the artist was thinking, how it relates to them and culture/society, etc. Many pieces also trigger visceral reactions as well because art has to do with the way we perceive things based on look, feel and sound.  Some pieces of art provide us with behavioural reactions but very few do since it has nothing to do with appearance, it has to do with function and use. Some pieces that are interactive may trigger this but it could also be applied to the elevators and listening devices and other technology that the AGO use within the building (universal design: meeting needs, providing feedback, and functional).

I think the worst  part of the AGO was that sometimes i found myself lost like i was in a maze, so it is hard to navigate especially if it is your first  time being there. The areas are kind of all over the place and sometimes you end up in areas that you have already seen. With this problem there is the possibility that you may miss some art.

Another thing i did not find particularly appealing was the gift store because everything is extremely expensive (i know this is where they make a lot of money, but many things are over priced and you can pick them up at the book store for much less.)

Going on this trip through the AGO and being more aware of my environment and experience actually was quite interesting and made me notice things that i never really thought about before. Overall I think the experience is quite good and provides a positive learning experience as well. 🙂


AGO building

BEST AND WORSE: AGO April 20, 2010

Posted by Jacob Alexander Prapavessis in : Check it out , add a comment

Having visited the AGO before, I had clear idea of what to expect. Upon arrival however there were various schools trips going on and the lobby of the building was quite busy and appeared unorganized. The addition of King Tut I feel has attracted many more visitors to the normally quieter AGO. If I was to talk about the Gallery in terms of best and worse aspects to the experience I would have to say that the worse experience for me isn’t the art work itself, its Frank Gehrys Architecture.

I Find the New renovation of the AGO to be extremely confusing and not necessarily even aesthetically good-looking. Sure there are some Beautiful parts; standing in the front wooden glass room for example is quite amazing, however, I feel like the rest of the gallery was almost an after thought. Due to having viewed much of the artwork before, during our visit I found myself looking at the architecture more inquisitively. Upon further investigation one can easily find unfinished corners and weird, awkward angles and connections. The whole building to me seems cheap…maybe due do the type of laminate and the colour used for much of the wood. I also find the actual lay out of the building quite poor. The different spaces aren’t cohesive and one is forced to concentrate while moving the various displays.

Not one of Gehrys finest…..

As for the actual Displays I feel this is the AGOs strongest attribute. The diversity among the type of art displayed is quite evident. For the casual art enthusiast I feel the Ago is perfect as im sure everyone can find something they really enjoy. The contemporary Sections especially are actually quite good and have some big name (and current) artists displayed. For the person who wants to look deeper the AGO also has a great collection of prints and other pieces in the basement and if you ask nicely they will even let you hold them like I did! With the addition of the recent King Tut exhibit (unfortunately I haven’t seen it) I feel the AGO is doing a great job marketing to a wide audience…..Its just too bad about the architecture!

Make Up 4 Activate – Canadian Tire Explained April 12, 2010

Posted by Jenkin Chu in : Check it out, Exer4: Best and Worst of ACTIVATE!, Projects , add a comment

As a Canadian living in Canada, most of us has gone to Canadian Tire for whatever reason. In terms of the building’s design for the countless locations they are placed, they all give the customer a very roomy feel. The entrances are large with products as far as you can see all lined up. This also gives the customer the impression that Canadian Tire will have what you need which is very reassuring. When there are a lot of people, most normal stores will have long line ups in the cashier areas because of the limited people or lane open. However, in Canadian Tire each major section (example: bikes/rec) has their own booth for customers to pay which reduces the crowding for people who buy the smaller things. The employees are all in uniform creating a more professional appearance even though their skills may not always be up to par. Also, when employees see someone looking for something, most of them will come up to the customer and ask if they need any assistance which can be very helpful for those who are shy to ask.
If you have been to canadiantire.ca you’ll notice the site is well organized so looking for stuff is a breeze. A great feature they have in the site is the product review and ratings. These ratings aren’t done by Canadian Tire workers but rather the customers who like to make a say about what they bought. This helps Canadian Tire to know what people liked or disliked about something and other customers can see what others thought so they can make a better decision when making a purchase.
In my personal opinion, Canadian Tire has done a great job in terms of their system but their products lack the proper maintenance. For products out of the box, it doesn’t really make a difference but for things like bikes they have room for improvement. The assembly team in the background do a very rushed meaning the bikes on the shelves are not properly tuned. Even though the quality may be decent for it, lacking the required tuning causes customers to mistaken it for bad quality/design. This applies to the Bike/Rec, Automotive, house decor and a few other sections of the store.

The good and the bad April 9, 2010

Posted by Meena Alcozai in : Check it out , add a comment

During Activate I tried a number of projects done by other classes. Some of them stood out for me while others didn’t really get their message across.


Thought Pop was one of the projects that stood out for me. Walking towards it, I was instantly greeted by a host who was friendly and approachable. The host clearly explained the process of the experience and then gave me a paper to try it out for myself. The reason I think it succeeded is because it was both anonymous and random. You can write down whatever you’re thinking and then pop the balloon and read the results of someone else’s thoughts. The project also had user feedback through the use of the other thoughts provided. If the thoughts of other people connected to you as a person, you would feel ‘special’ in a way. For example, my friend’s paper read ‘Dance on!’ and she really was happy because she loves dancing. So the thought she picked on random was kind of a special choice. The environment of the experience was friendly and fun overall. There were DJ’s playing old time classics like ‘N’sync’ and ‘Spice Girls’ and the balloons were situated in giant foam flowers, giving them a ‘hippie’ and ‘happy’ feel. Over all Thought Pop had a very nice ‘fortune cookie’ aspect to it.

Another project that I really enjoyed was the Diary Project. It had the same anonymous feel to it. The hosts were very calm and nice and explained the project in a very serene way. The experience was that the user can come and pick any diary they want and read it or contribute to it if they wish. There was no ‘push’ to actually having to write something down. At the front of each diary was a topic. I got a very artistic diary with random scribbles and doodles.  The reason I felt this experience as well as Thought Pop did so well was because they were both secretive and anonymous. The user could put down any idea or thought that was in their head and they wouldn’t feel constraint based on the fact that other people would trace it back to them somehow.


The only project I didn’t get or relate to was Designers against Art .  After joining the facebook group for the event, I had a lot of expectations. I thought that it was clever that while the poster did say ‘Save Art’ and tried to attract artist, then completely did a 180 and bash art in the actual event. And I thought that the event was properly publicized. But on the day of the event I was kind of let down by the actual experience. I didn’t really know what to do when I went to the DAA space. To me it was just like a protest. I wasn’t sure if I should join or just stand back because no one came up to me and gave me a poster to join in or explain the event. I think the experience would improve if they had a stand type stage set up and they got the users to go up and say something about art or design. Or to make up some weird and fun story of how art burned down their house, or how art divorced them; just some random and radical stories that aren’t really believable but more fun. Or the team could have recorded videos of random people in Activate saying the random stories and then projected them on the wall like a giant movie screen. Also I would give out ‘down with art’ pins or t-shirts for prizes to whoever could come up with the wackiest stories on stage, to get more user feedback.

Over all Activate was a really fun experience. And I thought the different projects were informative and fun.

BEST AND worst April 8, 2010

Posted by Jacob Alexander Prapavessis in : Check it out , add a comment

Hey Everyone! Just wanted to thank everyone who helped with our Chaordic Collaboratorium experience! I think overall it was a success and I know everyone worked hard

Anyways, out of the 4-5 projects I experienced the best project for was the Design Against Art one. Although I am not completely convinced that their project was within the guidelines of the assignment I enjoyed it the most. I thought their branding and marketing was excellent and it was the only project one could experience without consciously making a decision to do so. I thought the actual experience part was engaging; at times I found myself watching them for minutes, fully immersed in sound and movement. As the event went on I did find the project slightly irritating, however, it never lost its effectiveness. I do think that they could have gone about protesting in a smarter way. I think the noise was fine, but the protesting itself was quite chaotic and confusing to someone who had just entered the room. There was also no beginning middle and end to the experience, more just a constant level. I know most people might find this project one of the worst, but I do think it caused an experience and more importantly and experience for everyone in the room…..maybe that’s the most important part.

The worst project for me was the white box. Although after being told later about the concept I still found it to be uninteresting and unoriginal. There was no beginning middle and end and I don’t think anybody found the interaction clear and nobody who I personally talked too even knew they were being watched. If I were to recommend suggestions I would ask that they made the people stalking the participants more easily visible so that the concept would become clear sooner or later.

Chaordic Collaboratorium
Overall I feel our personal project was a success. I think our project had a certain presence (our big colorful box) and this got people interested and lining up which is important. I think our greeters at the front door were excellent and that couples with waiting created suspense. Once the participant entered the first room however, I think our project became quite week. Our chaos zone didn’t really have the effect we were looking for. I think this was because of the visuals and also the audio/video( My bad). The majority of people who entered the space became confused and not really overwhelmed like planned. Once out of the space and into the next section I think our project regained its feet again. The 2 random problem couples with the time element immediately got people participating and was actually quite fun and interactive. People who didn’t know each other before were working together to solve the problem and I think this was very successful.

To conclude I feel that Activate as a whole was a success. I enjoyed watching other projects and meeting new people and learned a lot about how hard it is to put together a project and then have a real world audience test it. Things never go quite as you imagine and this is extremely valuable.

Best and Worst overall Project from Activate. April 8, 2010

Posted by Maxyne Baker in : "Hosts" team, A/V: projection, audio, etc, Check it out, Other sections, Process/Blueprint team, Proj3: ACTIVATE!, Promotion+Documentation, Set+props: CHAOS, Set+props: ORDER , add a comment

Yikes, What a Whirl Wind of Frantic Activity. Every time I thought I had a handle on the situation, it was but a fleeting moment. I experienced, Art vs Design, The Beer Box, Walk the line, The Friendly Giant Reading Corner and the White Box. Reading some of your experiences make me regret having not made a bigger effort to try them all.

I learned a lot, and my mind has been filled with more questions as each day passes.

Tie for Best

Beer Box/ Walk the Line

What was that talking 12 pack of Labatt’s 50 all about ???????

I visited the box twice, and had the pleasure of introducing him(?) to Alisha. Although the experience had no branding it’s Entrance was enticing. How often do you find a lonely 12 pack of beer sitting out side of 100 McCaul.?  The box was egging people on to talk with him, it’s voice amplified slightly to draw attention, obviously. Initially, I thought the beer box with the voice represented a little person who was perhaps living in the box, I guess because, there was a voice coming from within it.  I began quizzing him(?) about life in the box. Did he mind the lack of windows? He said he didn’t because there was always beer in his crib. I asked, Did he get out? No his friends came over because there was always beer. I’m now wondering if the word beer was in every sentence he spoke. This box definitely wanted to talk about beer. This limited our conversation in the end,  and sadly because of the redundancy of the conversation and fear of our set toppling over I left, without answers. But for 5 minutes it was intriguing, fun and un-threatening. I returned later to see how the box was faring, (This would have been about 2 oclock) and by this time he was a little more lewd. I think he’d been drinking. Mind you, wouldn’t it be nice if all drunk obnoxious people fit in a little box like that.

Beyond these thoughts I am still perplexed by what it all meant. I think confusion would be it’s reflective quality in my opinion. It was fun, simple and ambiguous. I liked it’s ambiguity, just because. But as a mode of communication I don’t think it was successful. It was more of an installation than a piece of experience design. Visceral, I’m not sure, the beer box on the table was intriguing, no doubt. And this made it’s mode of interaction clear. I should mention, the box had several body guards rather than hosts. I don’t think the experience has changed my behaviour. At least I hope I haven’t been having conversations with other inanimate objects.

Best 2

Walk the Line

This experience had great extension. All morning I had been wondering what was going on with the tape on the stairs. I was invited while, already walking the line ( with a friend, on the stairs) to walk the line further….inside. In this way  the user is practically engaged before they know it. This seems really smart psychologically. The branding was clean, you can use the 3 words literally, or metaphorically, meaning…”take the chance”. The host was fun and persuasive. Pretty simple script. I think it consisted of Come Now Walk the Line! and No you have to…..

The experience itself was simple in construction and well executed visually. Viscerally intriguing for me because it was much like a game of twister, consisting of 4 erratically zig-zagging lines painted in primary colours complicated by crisscrossing ropes at waist height stretching from side to side. The challenge was to choose any one of the 4 lines and together with a partner ” walk the line”. Here it is important to understand that one of the participants has been blindfolded. I liked the whole experience’s openness. I felt much more comfortable putting on a blindfold, having been able to see everything already. Here I think the stakes need to be higher. The interaction between friends is nice, and promotes trust and working together, but perhaps it’s a bit too “kiddy ride”.  After discarding tightrope walking  as an option,  I decided I would  incorporate the use of cell phones, and earbuds, having a bigger distance between the partners. A little like a remote controlled car, only voice activated human instead. Although I love all things tactile, this experience might be heightened by removing human contact other than voice. Some how I think the users would bond more deeply. Behaviorally, yes I do feel closer to my partner in “Walking the Line”after sharing the experience with her. This experience has stayed in my mind, as a fun memory of the day, so in that way I’ve reflected.


White Cube ( Cube)

Completely creepy top to bottom.  The concept of following people, and almost treating them like prey is disturbing. Was this experience designed to open our eyes to the possibility of being stalked? Having our information pirated ? Their intent is really foggy. I’m personally tired of being both stalked and living in a culture of fear, hence  it held absolutely no attraction. I’m not sure where the engagement ended in this one (are you engaged if your being stalked) There is an un pleasant reflective quality to this experience. I think alot of women would be really sensitive to this experience, particularily if they’ve ever been stalked . Here I must say their concept wasn’t clear, just creepy. Perhaps explaining the process to the user before they engage would be a more sensitive approach.


Posted by Magdalena Malik in : Check it out, Exer4: Best and Worst of ACTIVATE!, Exercises , add a comment

I found Activate! to be an event where many unique and talented people came together to establish a fun yet interesting experiment. The sense of partnership in our community brought out excitement, motivation and intrigue into the project. Support and initiative played an important role in managing such a collaborative booth which I must say looked awesome!

In my point of view, the best and not-so-good qualities of our Activate! show must have included the following…

The attractive colorful design of the Chaordic Collaboratorium booth was visually appealing. The visceral effect of the neon colored papers created interests that pulled viewers in. The cycle of the experience itself was a bit confusing. The users did not quite understand the linkage of Chaos to Order. The topics in the booths were narrow. I believe that if the topics were much grander in the sense of allure then the users would come up with stronger ideas. The magazine cut-outs were engaging and questioned the audience. Inside of our booth the components of light, sound and touch were visceral aspects that intensified the atmosphere of chaos leading to order. Attraction, engagement and creativity played an important role in making this process work. I am very proud of our booth and ambition we all contributed to making it great.

One of my favorite booths would be the one named “WTF?” The slogan or phrase was very catchy and automatically made you think and wonder what the point of this was. This was very successful in engaging an audience.  The circus-like fun colored tent consisting of red and yellow inspired me to go and check out the experience. The “What the Fact” phrase made me laugh!

The Mood- Cubed Box Booth made me a bit confused and the process was infinite. It took a while. The visceral points should have been more clarified and exciting in my opinion. The brown box underneath the die was visible and lacked a certain sense of sophistication. The design wasn’t that good. I am 5’9 and trying to get underneath the box was a bit of a struggle. It did not make me feel as excited as I probably should have been.

Generally, The Activate! project was very amusing and I had a great time working with our class. I never did this type of project before and now must say that it was a totally great experience! 🙂 🙂

the best and worst of Chaordic Collaboratorium April 8, 2010

Posted by Christina Mary Dery in : Check it out, Exer4: Best and Worst of ACTIVATE!, Proj3: ACTIVATE! , add a comment
First I would like to compliment the publicity team for their great job at creating nice contrasting and colourful posters. Of all the projects I think our poster stood out the most (although there could have been more put up). Not only the posters but also the awesome job at documenting the entire event from set-up to takedown through photographs and video. The Collaboratorium itself with he bright paper with words created a nice touch to the brand and it attracted people to the booth.
Overall i think our booth design with transparent walls with magazine cutouts really appealed to people and created a sense of wonder.
The experience cycle for the participant was lacking in terms of the experience itself until the end and the reason for this could have been because many people did not fully understand the link of the first room (chaos) to the second room (order). Most people just walked into the chaos and right away wanted to walk through to the order room, not noticing the message that was being conveyed through the images and the chaotic lights and sounds.
In terms of the challenge to challenge other people, the experience was successful because once people found out that the previous group had given them the words, they realized that they wanted to top it and create a more difficult experience for the next group. In terms of extension, this could have been more successful if  the words were chosen by us and they had specific links that they had to figure out because many of the phrases people came up with were not very interesting in my opinion. I think if there was a definite answer to each linkage of words then people would have tried harder and their minds would have been more engaged.
Overall I think the experience was no the worst because certain areas really worked while others not o much, but i think people had fun and enjoyed the game type experience. Personally i think the only reason it did not work so well in certain areas was because we did not have control over our environment such as lighting and also our time limit. All taken into consideration i think we pulled it off and put on a good show; after-all we did have a line-up most of the day! 😀 Hosts did a good job aattracting people and once the show got rolling we were able to explain the challenge effectively so that people understood.
Good job everyone! it was a great experience 😀

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