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Copyright & Censorship on Instagram: How Marie Claire Stole My Photo

God is a DJ

This was actually my first or second blog entry, which I’d written in response to Jeff’s presentation and just realized I never published.

Figuring out how to source this video and make it viewable took me way longer than I’d like to admit, but finally, I present to you this rare footage of our dear colleague in his clubbing days.

For some reason, I could only find an example from the holidays.

I stand by the legitimacy of this blog post.


Walter Benjamin: Movie Star

I got it into my head that Benjamin secretly wanted to be a movie star.  Here is his justification:


Walter Benjamin on Film and the Senses

Can I wear moccasins?

This is a question I have been asking myself a lot lately, and the truth is, it’s probably only because it’s the time of year when I can start thinking about wearing something, ANYTHING, other than my giant (men’s) sorrel boots – because come on ridiculous fashion companies – why are men’s boots certified for 20 below but women’s boots have stupid built in heels and non insulating fashion fluff.  Screw you boot patriarchy.

ANYWAY, now that it’s reasonably sized shoes season in Canada I once again return to my (as of late) irksome question -which is likely only irksome because I only ever ask myself, and lets be clear – I definitely don’t have an appropriate answer.

If I wear moccasins is it cultural appropriation?  Is there a respectful way for me to wear moccasins?  Is there a disrespectful way?  Why should anyone care about what I have on my feet // maybe they do and that question is problematic.  I don’t come from a long line of cobblers, that I know of anyway, and I know quite little about footwear aside from a bit about the history of fashion (spoiler alert – high heels were originally riding shoes for men – whaaaaat?!), but I do know this – I love wearing shoes that are designed for a foot that is walking around on ground that isn’t cement.  And I love supporting local artisans who continue the tradition of creating and innovating on traditional designs.

I think what I worry about is the misappropriation of ceremonial garb by (ahem) colonial white people.  I suppose I also worry about “spreading fashion” that encourages the cheap knock (see adaptation as theft) of traditional designs by large corporations.

I had the incredible privilege of visiting Nunavut and the Northwest Territories this summer, on a trip to Somerset Island in the Arctic Circle.  While I was (briefly) in Yellowknife, I was blown away by the incredible amount of handmade textile work (makes sense, I suppose tourists frequent the area in the summer) and by the diversity of the design work therein.  We were staying up in the Arctic circle, and at least one plane ride away from any kind of shop what so ever.

I mentioned my admiration for the local work to another woman that was on the trip with us (longtime inhabitant of the Yukon, in her 70s), whose response (maybe after twenty years in the north) was something like – yeah, I can make those.  Which took me back a bit.  Impressive, no doubt, that she had taught herself to make these traditional textiles, but to so readily dismiss those who make them for their livelihood – those who learned these skills from family members or friends?  I didn’t know what to make of it.

So many my question goes further.  1. Can I wear (ethically sourced) moccasins?  2. Can I make my own without being a total douche?

I had the privilege of attending a short “Storyboot making workshop” with Manitobah Mukluks, an Indigenous owned an operated company, at the Bata shoe museum this fall.  As a maker learning about the structure and form of these traditional footwear’s, footwear that realistically is not all that different than what my ancestors may have worn once, was fascinating.

Remember when I said I wasn’t from a line of cobblers?  I lied.  My Zeidi was a slipper maker.  In fact for years my theatre company was named after his business “Quality Slippers Productions” – they made fur slippers and vests, ook-piks (which were definitely a case of cultural appropriation or theft from inuit traditions), and coats.


So maybe my obsession with which slippers I should be wearing, or making, or thinking about aren’t unfounded.  I want my feet to be comfortable, but not at the expense of members of my community.

I am fortunate that I live five minutes down the road from Alderville First Nation, and there is no shortage in my neighbourhood of talented artists with traditional practices….. but I do wonder – do Indiginous artists ever feel shitty about making footwear for those whose ancestors stepped all over their rights?

But also – who is making my shoes, if I buy them from the store?


There’s a movie about adaptation called Adaptation and it stars NICHOLAS CAGE so you know it is going to be incredible even if it’s awful.

“Until Next Time…Keep Fit & Have Fun!”

Several years ago I made a bunch of patterns for fun that were based on Canadian nostalgia from my childhood (Mr. Dress-Up, A Part of Our Heritage, those creepy puppets from that “Don’t You Put it in Your Mouth” public service announcement, etc.). I thought maybe I’d make shirts out of them for my friends, or wrapping paper, or nothing. I’m pretty sure I’m not allowed to use these properties without permission.


tara-krebs-body-break-crop  mr-dressup-tara-krebs

I didn’t really intend for people to see them, but one day I got a call from Hal Johnson from Body Break because he’d somehow seen my pattern based on their commercial spots, and was hoping to snag a copy of it. I said I’d of course be delighted to. We talked for a while, and at one point Hal said he needed to apologize if he sounded a little strange over the phone, as he was out for a run with his dog. I’m like “HANG ON. Are you keeping fit and having fun WHILE you’re talking me right now?” I was pretty starstruck, and I learned a valuable lesson: Use stuff without permission, and your childhood will reward you by blowin’ up your phone.


Beyond Thunderdome & Before Fury Road – Tank Girl, cartoonists and film-makers circle jerk – M. Sea

After a few weeks of research it turns out there is actually an explanation for why Furiousa and Tank Girl are kinda the same. It’s not even that hard to follow. Stick with me here.


Chronology and notes

1979 – Mad Max (the first film, shot in Australia, includes dull hack saw handcuff scenario)
1981 – Road Warrior (sequel / soft reboot of the first film, shot in Australia)
1982 – FreakWave comic by Peter Milligan and Brendan McCarthy published (post apocalyptic surfing comic inspired by Road Warrior)
1984 – Super Girl the movie came out (influencing Hewlett and MArtin to start adding Girl to the end of things, such as Rocket Girl a nick name for a girl MArtin liked, also Super Girl made me trans)1985 – Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (shot in the states, soft reboot/sequel of the first 2 films)
1985/6 – Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons Published (British folk, includes the dull hack saw handcuff scenario)
1988 – Deadline magazine #1 published – Featuring Tank Girl comics by Jamie Hewlett and Alan Martin.
1991 – Tank Girl comics were republished by the American company Dark Horse.
1995 – Tank Girl the movie is produced and bombs (Jamie Hewlett quits making comics)
1996 – Jamie Hewlett moves into an apartment with Blur frontman Damon Albarn, leading to the tw o of them creating The Gorillaz, (which i didn’t realize but seems real obvious now right?)
1997 – Brendan McCarthy (Cult British Comic Illustrator, long time collaborator of Peter Milligan, and contemporary of Hewlett and Martin) is invited to a meeting with George Miller to discuss the posibility of making a Xena production quality Mad Max tv show.
2002 – Peter Milligan and Jamie Hewlitt work together to create the graphic novel Tank Girl Oddessy. (eh! eh!)
2007 – Brendan MCCarthy and George Miller have spent the last 5 years writing and storyboarding the script for Mad Max Fury Road a storyboard driven movie.
2015 – Mad Max Fury Road (shot in Africa, spent 15 years in production hell, but is a near perfect movie)


Freak Wave

Deadline featuring Brendan McCarthy and tank Girl

Encase that timeline is getting confusing lets simplify.

Martin and Hewlett made Tank Girl in 1988. They joke that the major influence for two british comic book makers to set their post apocalyptic comic series in Australia is Crocodile Dundee, and to a lesser extent the Mad Max movies. Hewlett also claims the barren deserts are easier to draw (Tank Girl ONE, page 5).

Martin and Hewlett are part of a larger,but reletively small, scene of British comic book creators. They are frequently being published along side Peter Milligan and Brendan McCarthy in 2000 AD and Deadline. Milligan and McCarthy’s Freak Wave was cited as one of Hewlett and Martin’s inspirations for telling a post apocalyptic story like Tank Girl.

TLDR: George Miller’s Mad Max films were amazing and were particularly influential in for a small scene of comic book creators in Britain. The same scene that would later create Tank Girl and Furiousa.

Judge Dredd drawn by Brendan McCarthy

Judge Dredd drawn by Jamie Hewlett


Anyhoo to tie this back into Beyond Thunderdome: Here’s  music video by the Gorillaz where they fuck around in a military vehicle and help children in a desert and also it sorta sucks. (Master Blaster, my Ass-ter)




CASE STUDY 8: Guggenheim Helsinki (Toward an Ethics of Remix and Summation (of sorts))


It is not hyperbole to state that the Guggenheim Helsinki is the most successful international architecture competition to date: there were 1,715 entries from around the world. The data is staggering, especially when the resources necessary to produce an entry is calculated. If a team was comprised of 1 Seniour Partner, 1 Juniour Architect, and 2 Intern Architects; tallying that total and multiplying it by the number of entries, The Soloman R. Guggenheim Foundation owns a body of work worth $87,011,547.48.1 That amount is extremely conservative because I know of several firms who entered and the number of team members were often double than the conjectured team size.


The Soloman R. Guggenheim Foundation is singularly credited with facilitating a unique architectural phenomena called “The Bilbao Effect”. Before Frank Gehry’s design for the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao was inaugurated in 1997, the Basque Country was precariously close to financial “bankruptcy”. In approximately 5 years after its opening, it has been estimated that the economy of the region increased up to 20-30% based on tourism and other ancillary industries. This unprecedented success where a contemporary cultural institution was the impetus for resuscitating a troubled economy generated an international hysterical demand for signature buildings. The notion of the star architect – or “Starchitect” quickly proliferated. It has embedded itself so deeply in our collective consciousness that Frank Gehry was given a cameo on the Simpsons.



Numerous cities clamored (and still do) to commission new architecture, the second  generation of this movement include the MAXXI (Rome) and the Rosenthal Center for Contemporary Art (Cincinnati) by Zaha Hadid, the Quadracci Pavilion (Milwaukee) by Santiago Calatrava, the Seattle Public Library (Seattle) by OMA, The Walker Art Center Extension (Minneapolis) by Herzog and de Meuron, and even our Michael Lee-Chin Crystal at the ROM (Toronto) by Daniel Libeskind was part of this fervour for a city with an architectural pedigrees. What these projects have in common is that they were all a result of an international competition; either open, where anyone was able to submit, or invited, where specific firms are shortlisted and offered the opportunity to propose a design.


Something that I have always been conflicted by is how context of not only the physical site, but also how it engages the cultural and historical conditions is often superficially addressed. I am rarely convinced by what I consider very perfunctory assurances by the architects and critics. For example. the sail-like forms of the Guggenheim Bilbao were lauded for referencing Bilbao’s boating heritage, yet the same assessment can be assigned to the majority of Gehry’s body of work. The formal elements in his architecture are predictably similar, regardless of the desire for them to be imbued with meaning they are simply concatenations of complex curves. A limitation that is inherent in international competitions is that it is unfeasible for most firms to have a first-hand immersive familiarity with the site. I have speculated that this must be a mitigating factor that precipitates the proliferation of formally compliant, conceptually sterile, and comprehensively inert designs. For many, the best practice is to be safe.


One must be careful in equating aesthetic flourishes like canted angles and swooshing lines with innovation. I am unwavering in my belief that truly radical design risks the potential contentiousness of questioning the precarious distinction between cultural inspiration and cultural appropriation. Every competition I have worked on has been an opportunity to establish my personal position regarding the appropriateness of integrating cultural values into the premise of the design concept. What increases the intricacy of the topic are the amorphous parameters; they modulate, reconfigure, and reinscribe with every project and each variable taken under consideration. The way I have navigated my approach is admitting my limitations and knowing that I will inevitably offend someone for a decision that I make. Rather than admonishing myself, I prefer to consider any potential confrontation as a learning opportunity. The risk of making a mistake is balanced by the necessity for design to be a discursive practice.


The first time I was confronted by a perceived difficult topic was a few years ago when I (representing the team I worked with) was invited to submit a project for inclusion in the University of Manitoba Faculty of Architecture’s student publication, the Warehouse Journal. The project was a competition entry for an organization called CityVision where every year they select a city then propose a premise. The year we entered, the city was Beijing and the topics were Evolution and Extinction: humankind can no longer sustain itself in the future because of the demands we are making on our resources so we are to imagine the elimination of the boundaries between humans and machine. Anticipating that humankind is on the path of its own destruction, a radical identity for Beijing needs to be imagined. Our proposal was called “The White City” and we envisioned Beijing as a funerary city where all the deceased people in China would be brought. We developed Reliquary Towers where the bodies would be processed using existing technologies resulting in compostable material and sterile liquid. Some of the compostable material would be 3D printed into funerary vessels that would be stored in the Columbarium. The remainder, as well as the liquid, would be brought to the Ecologarium where scientists would use them to develop hybridized plants that could eventually clean the city’s engulfing smog.







When the draft of the publication was submitted to the University’s Diversity Office, our project was flagged by the consultant as potentially problematic because it dealt with another country, another culture, and the topic was death and funerary rites. Thankfully the Warehouse Journal editors assuaged their concerns by informing them that we made earnest attempts to ensure cultural appropriateness and sensitivity through exhaustive research of traditional and contemporary funerary customs. So far, it is the only project where I had to “play the race card” and mentioned that I was part Chinese because I thought it would diminish the concern of having a colonialized interpretation of a foreign country. It also suggested that my ethnicity granted me permission to access difficult, non-Western centric content.


I don’t think it should have been necessary to substantiate our competition entry based on my partial ethnicity; it should have been determined solely by the merits of the idea and the rigour of the research. I was uncomfortable with a Caucasian women having the authority to determine what is culturally appropriate and what should be considered difficult subject matter. I hesitated with her question of whether someone in China would be offended by our project because it insinuates a singular, monolithic, and immutable cultural identity. The divergence of our positions, especially the discrepancy in opinion of who is permitted to determine the appropriateness of subject matter, is why I value this friction. It necessitates a more nuanced discussion about where the threshold is between diversity and sensitivity and unequivocal censorship. The reward for testing the boundaries of contestable content is incontrovertible because we become the active protagonists in galvanizing the agenda of future discourse.


1. Kyle May, ed., CLOG: Guggenheim (New York: CLOG, 2014), 125.

The average salaries and wages as determined by the American Institute of Architects.


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THESE boots are made blogging and that’s just  what they’ll do, one of these blog are going to BLOG ALL OVER YOU!!!


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IF you liked it then you should have put a BLOG on it!



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CASE STUDY 7: CLOG: Rendering (The Question of Fidelity)

One of my favourite design publications is CLOG, it is published usually 2-3 times per year and each issue explores a topic from multiple viewpoints. Submissions solicited from the website can be comprised of images, words (500 word maximum), or both. Some of the subjects that have been addressed include Prisons, Landmark, Brutalism, Sci-Fi, and Data Space. It is an antidote to the transient content that fleets by every day in blogs and social media. The deluge of design projects published on most sites each day has a numbing effect which makes it difficult to determine its relevancy. It is exasperating to stand far back enough to formulate a parameter because everything is periphery. The issue that is most notable for me is Rendering because it was the first instance where I encountered a critical reflection on the topic that was equally astute and droll. In the introduction, the editor, Kyle May states,


“advances in software and hardware have enabled renderings to be made faster and more realistic than ever before. This presents an opportunity and a challenge. On the one hand, design concepts can now be tested and conveyed with an unprecedented degree of visual accuracy. Conversely, whether through omission, extreme dramatization, or even intentional fakery, architects now have the ability to realistically depict the impossible.”1



(image 1) Hoarding for AURA Condominiums

We are all familiar with digital architectural renderings in Toronto, it is challenging to walk more than 3 blocks without hoarding around a construction site providing salacious computer generated images of a new office building or condo development. The views of the exterior are often generically heroic and the interior is typically an inventory of “good taste” with palatable contemporary furnishings and young professionals in hilariously contrived poses of sociability. In the profession, these are “entry” level renderings; the ones that get published in distinguished design journals, coveted websites like Dezeen and ArchDaily, and big “A” and “D” Architecture/Design monographs are a completely different genre. The easiest analogy would be the difference between an advertisement for clothing on a flyer and a campaign from Chanel. One is geared towards mass consumption, the other is attuned to the predilections of the design cognoscenti. Like any well executed visual contrivance, it aims to seduce, inspire, astonish.


These digital renderings are not necessarily produced to align with how we perceive architecture, rather, they can be deployed as a wish fulfillment; a utopic reverie of how we think it should be. The topic of image fidelity and verisimilitude was discussed extensively during one of our seminars. The role of the image was explored, especially in how it has the capacity to skew our expectations of reality. We have the propensity to imbue an image of high enough resolution with authority. Since we are accustomed to associating image with veracity, we have faith that that it reflects at the very least an intention for truthfulness. Despite inherently knowing that images in advertising have a predisposition for a highly engineered augmented reality, we do not apply that jaundiced skepticism as immediately to images of our environment. This discrepancy is what I find compelling as an extension of the conversations in class.


What these architectural visualizations offer is something that is not quite real but is definitely not untrue; it is a new category within the taxonomy of reality – the hyper-real or the “hyper-rendering”, which can be defined as “a dramatic, sexy, and ultra-real architectural representation on display both for multinational design competitions and for the highly visual social media sphere. The pervasiveness and ubiquity of the hyper-rendering is contemporary architecture is undeniable because of its visual strength and mass appeal.”2 What these architectural rendering do is confound our expectations because despite being so stylized that they are akin to the CGI special effects that assault us in Michael Bay movies or the latest installment of the Star Wars Franchise, not all of us will summarily dismiss them because of their inherent seductiveness.


These architectural visualizations so compelling is that the content of the image is not tethered to the obligation of providing fact. The primacy of what is depicted is the architecture’s intangible and ineffable qualities – its atmosphere, ambience, and attitude. The accomplices to these artifices are tropes that include foggy environments, torrents of rain, staccatoed lens flares, and the proliferation of happy children with balloons. I hesitate to call these false depictions because of the impossibility to dispute how one perceives the phenomenological aspect of a design. They are highly personal and inherently subjective, yet for every individual there is a resonance of truth, regardless of how elusive.


(image 2) Laulasmaa by Coop Himmelb(l)au (rendering by Luxigon)


(image 3) Tower by Morphosis (rendering by Luxigon)


(image 4) Nuuk courtyard by BIG (rendering by MIR)


(image 5) St. Petersburg Pier by BIG (rendering by MIR)

As spatial designers, digital renderings are simply another method of representation that we manipulate, not unlike the demands we made of constructed linear perspectives. Yet, as Luca Silenzi identifies in his contribution to CLOG: Rendering, “[w]e let others believe [digital rendering is] the most objective method to replicate architecture. But we know that is not true. There is a difference between real and plausible.”3 One of the best contributions is from one of the two most revered visualization firms4, it is titled “Reality Filter” and identifies the ridiculous discrepancy between the optimism of the speculative reality and the eventual banality of the lived reality.


(image 6) Reality Filter by Luxigon

luxigon_reality-filter_post(image 7) Reality Filter

The advances in technology that has enabled us to visualize our world establishes a challenge where a univalent reality is confounded because it seeks liminality. We are not being offered the choice of either/or, instead we are accepting the parameters of both and neither. Our association with architecture and architectural history hinges not solely on our familiarity with physical structures; it is equally determined by  their representations through images. How we position our understanding of our built world is mitigated by the depiction of the reality that we accept.

1. Kyle May, ed., CLOG: Rendering (New York: CLOG, 2015), 6

2.Benjamin Halpern and Joel Wenzel, “Hyper-Rendering: The Illusion of Architecture” in in CLOG: Rendering, ed. Kyle May (New York: CLOG, 2015), 73.

3. Luca Silenzi, “Real vs. Plausible: On Reality and its Representation” in CLOG: Rendering, ed. Kyle May (New York: CLOG, 2015), 39.

4. The one used as an example is Luxigon which is based in Paris, France and the other is MIR from Bergen, Norway. Both offices have been instrumental in establishing the international profile and visibility of firms like BIG, REX, and Snøhetta by producing highly coveted renderings that possess a pronounced visual impact.


image 1

“Aura Condos”, Aura Condos in Toronto. Accessed April 11, 2017.

image 2

“Laulasmaa by Coop Himmelb(l)au”, Luxigon. Accessed April 11, 2017.

image 3

“Tower by Morphosis”, Luxigon. Accessed April 11, 2017.

image 4

“Nuuk courtyard by BIG”, MIRAccessed April 11, 2017.

image 5

“St. Petersburg Pier by BIG”, Luxigon. Accessed April 11, 2017.

image 6

“Reality Filter”, Luxigon. Accessed April 11, 2017.

image 7

“Reality Filter”, Luxigon. Accessed April 11, 2017.

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