Michelle Gay is an artist, designer and researcher. She is currently working on a PhD in the Environmental and Urban Change faculty at York University, focusing on Artists as Urban Theorists. She holds an MFA from NSCAD U and a Master of Information Science from University of Toronto. As an urban planning activist, she lobbied for 14+ years affordable live & work-spaces for research & creation; public spaces; and for urban design which is forward thinking and inclusive. She teaches in the Graduate Studies department at OCAD U. She is developing an artist-designed metadata system for a collaborative project called archiveThing (with Barbara Rauch) to design an open access space for artists to share complex artworks.
Artist work - Huts for Future Living
This work grows directly from my experience as an urban planning activist with the local community group Active18 in Toronto’s West Queen West precinct. I spent a decade thinking about: urban planning, city design, communities, participatory design methods of engaging people in wicked problems, artists’ roles in community engagement. Community members worked together to shape this contested neighbourhood. As practicing artist, this research project is a result of years of complex discussions, readings and thinking about these larger issues – turning to making art objects, digital artefacts to continue to ponder these wicked problems.
These new works focus on urban environment, urban planning and speculate on infrastructures or structures for future living. Excess packaging, trash and found materials are collected then transformed into low-fidelity assemblages and models. These speculative structures are meant to become a method of critical making & thinking around the impact of human-choices on our collective futures and a mediation towards our built environments and city infrastructures. The forms play with new infrastructures - sleds for clouds, a movable beehive, a fishing system, biosphere-maker, water filtration systems, rolling forest, etc.
The original project arc was to simply craft these low-tech, low fidelity models and digitize them. Once digitized, the models, made from found materials, would be recycled. The concept being that the new digital ‘artefacts’ would stand in for the physical models. At this writing I have tried a few modes of documenting these sculptures (photogrammetry, documentary photography, animation and drawing). All models are still hanging out in my studio – as I have not yet found the perfect method of documenting objects for future viewers. For more information, please click here. Gay will be presenting work at the Embassy Cultural House's Hiding in Plain Sight virtual exhibition, October 30th, 2020