Urban Field Speakers Series 2006

UFSS_pigeonThe Urban Field Speakers Series centres on the role of art in transforming the experience of the city. Through lectures, screenings and discussions, it explores how creative practices can help improve the quality of urban life and planning in Toronto and around the world. The 2005-06 series brought together an array of international and local participants, including artists, architects, critical theorists, designers and historians, who are working at the intersections of technology, communications and aesthetics. Reflecting on a broad range of perspectives and practices, the events build upon each other to inspire dialogue on the role of the city in art, and art in the city.

This series was programmed by Janine Marchessault and Scott McLeod and presented by Prefix Institute of Contemporary Art in association with the Visible City Project + Archive.



Anthony Vidler
Moderated by Andrew Payne
April 26, 2006

Anthony Vidler is widely-known for his essays on issues at the heart of the most pressing debates surrounding architecture today. He is a historian and critic of modern and contemporary architecture, specializing in French architecture from the Enlightenment to the present. His installment for the Prefix Urban Field Speaker Series revolves around the Situationist’s cartographies, and focuses specifically on the work of Guy Debord. Vidler examines how Debord’s work combines cartography, photography, film and the city to create playful psychogeopgraphic perspectives on urban life.

Vidler Part1
Vidler Part2
Vidler Part3


Cuauhtémoc Medina
Moderated by Dot Tuer
March 30, 2006

Cuauhtémoc Medina is a researcher at the Instituto de Investigaciones Estéticas, National University of Mexico, Mexico City, and associate curator of Latin American art, Tate Gallery, London. His talk examines the idea of the "modern state" using the struggle of so-called Third World Mexico fighting to be a sophisticated Latin American country against the First World U.S. The aftershock of a devastating earthquake to Mexico City led to a feeling of renewed social possibilities or an “inner city communitarism" in a country dissatisfied with its political conditions. Medina describes a series of artist interventions within Mexico City that deconstruct the literal reconstruction of the so-called un-modern space of Mexico City and the displacement of people, street objects, and social centres. Urban decay is taken up in opposition to city beautification efforts which, for Medina and local artists, are examples of "gentrification aims to disguise a social experience made of a history punctuated by tragedy."

Medina Part1
Medina Part2
Medina Part3


R. Murray Schafer
Moderated by Lewis Kaye
February 9, 2006

The iconoclastic composer and notorious anti-urbanist R. Murray Schafer examines the sounds of the city in this Urban Field Speaker Series lecture. Schafer recaps his early work on the renowned World Soundscape Project, which he set up at Simon Fraser University to study the relationships between people and their acoustic environment. Using the pioneering sounds of Canada’s west, Schafer examines how the industrial development of the area not only replaced a way of life, but also the sounds which negotiated it—affecting the way work, play, and the secular were perceived and experienced. Train whistles and church bells give way to noise pollution of the city and the hum of household appliances. These keynote sounds are dissected by Schafer as examples of what he has coined the “sound ecology” of the city. His acute knowledge of musical theory is showcased along with his dedication to the importance of sound memory preservation in the world’s ever evolving cityscapes.

Schafer Part1
Schafer Part2
Schafer Part3


José Roca
January 19, 2006

José Roca is presently the Chief of Temporary Exhibitions and Museology at the Biblioteca Luis Ángel Arango, Bogotá, and is also the editor of the Columna de Arena, a monthly column on art criticism that circulates online. He has curated for the MOMA in New York, the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris and The Institute of Contemporary Art in Philadelphia. In this Urban Field Speakers Lecture, “Symbolic Actions as Public Policy: The Case of Bogotá,” Roca discusses the modernization of Colombia and how art has been brought in to decorate urban space—more specifically, instilling a political change through symbolic action by several mayors in Bogotá. The result was a change in sentiments towards public space—which Roca believes is above ownership, and more about recognizing people and communities within this space.

Roca Part1
Roca Part2
Roca Part3


Visible City: Project + Archive is supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of CanadaCanada Research Chairs, York Research, Ontario Innovation Trust, and the Canada Foundation for Innovation. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.