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Watertable (Public Art) Gardiner Expressway @ Fort York

Tuscani01

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Watertable is a new media sculpture that uses the architecture of the Gardiner Expressway to echo the natural condition of the site when it marked the water’s edge in the early days of the city’s history.
Winners of the 2005 Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts, Lisa Steele and Kim Tomczak developed Watertable as part of an International open competition held in 2007.

Watertable is a lighting and audio installation that will create the look and sound of moving water: undulating LED lights accompanied by the sound of lake waves will respond to current wind conditions at the site. This will be the first new media artwork in the City of Toronto’s permanent Public Art Collection.

- Picture from Spacing

The project was unveiled tonight. Anyone have any pictures of it?
 
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surlee

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It's up now!
Haven't seen it first hand, only had 2 friends say they were a bit disappointed.
 

SP!RE

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Sweet!! The up-close effect is brilliant. My art prof was on the the artists on this project. Props to her!

I am curious now to go down and experience this one for myself.
 

MatrixElement

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October 22 Pictures

I walked over to see it tonight and really liked it. Very bright and impressive, but tasteful and not gaudy. Pure blue or white lighting always seems to work this way. My only complaint is that it is so isolated. Hopefully this will change as more of the condos are finished. It is directly across from the existing Waterpark City condos, the ones that have been completed for a few years. Although the sidewalk was hardly crowded, there was more pedestrian traffic than you might expect along Fort York Blvd on a dark chilly October evening.


http://www.flickr.com/photos/41002894@N07/4035834117/


http://www.flickr.com/photos/41002894@N07/4035834607/


http://www.flickr.com/photos/41002894@N07/4035834339/


http://www.flickr.com/photos/41002894@N07/4035834483/
 

Tewder

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Pure blue or white lighting always seems to work this way.
You must enjoy the city's christmas lighting displays.

This looks okay but the location under the raised highway seems a bit odd to me.... how can you really appreciate it?
 

Jonny5

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how can you really appreciate it?
By going there :cool:

Per Spacing, the effects change based on the wind speed, like the light installation on top of The Met.
 

Tewder

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... I guess I deserve those comments but how many people will really get to experience it in those ways? Is there busy pedestrian traffic under that underpass?? You can put art on display in back alleys and so on too but what's the point if few will see it in passing?
 

Tuscani01

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... I guess I deserve those comments but how many people will really get to experience it in those ways? Is there busy pedestrian traffic under that underpass?? You can put art on display in back alleys and so on too but what's the point if few will see it in passing?
Well, its a permanent installation and the area is growing rapidly. While there may not be a lot of pedestrian activity now, it will definitely increase over the next few years. People driving by will also be able to see it.
 

Towered

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Opposing viewpoints:

http://www.torontosun.com/news/columnists/joe_warmington/2009/10/22/11485491-sun.html

Gardiner gets a facelift

But does it have to cost $115Gs?

By JOE WARMINGTON


How did the City of Toronto ever manage for 175 years without this?

In a world-wide recession somehow Toronto taxpayers have coughed up $115,000 to install a string of lights about 30 metres by 18 metres along the underbelly of the Gardiner Expressway.

Sorry. Let me rephrase that.

A City of Toronto press release says taxpayers have invested in "the city's first permanent multimedia art commission that transforms part of the Gardiner Expressway into an exhibition space."

"It looks like Christmas lights to me," says one heathen riding by on a bicycle.

No, no, you don't understand. It's art. Visual art to be precise -- by award-winning artists Lisa Steele and Kim Tomczak, who are professors at the University of Toronto.

"The softly glowing lights begin their crest from the southern edge and move towards the north side, directing the public's gaze toward Fort York," says the release. "The sound of recorded waves subtly echo throughout the area, triggering the public to remember that this location was once the water's edge."

Somebody has to ask the question: Do we really need this?

No matter which way it is spun, it's some LED lighting under a highway council has commissioned expensive studies to tear down -- in an area along Fort York Blvd. where very few people ever go. No need to worry it's a traffic hazard because it's in a section that covers a muddy field and nobody driving by seemed to notice it.

By the way, the accomplished artists Steele and Tomczak seem like very nice people and were telling me the great effort and danger involved in installing this visual display of LED tube lighting, which simulates waves coming in from the shore.

You certainly can't blame them for entering a competition and winning the bid. Perhaps the graffiti on the butt of the Gardiner nearby was done for free and that "artist" is thinking, "How do I get in on this action?"

Their creation is better than what was already there and I'd probably like it better if there was no cost to the taxpayer, or at least not installed after a summer where so many people did without city services.

If there was no money to settle the garbage strike that closed summer camps, parks and some Canada Day celebrations, how can anyone justify having this kind of cash for work under the Gardiner?

You may not agree. Any controversy is good for artists and discussion is positive. To be fair, a lot of people travelling by gave it a thumbs up. "I like it," said passerby Joan Laframboise.

"It's neat."

It's the kind of thing you may need to see yourself to make your own judgement. One person's Christmas lights is another person's artistic masterpiece.

But now that the City of Toronto has spent $115,000 for aesthetic improvements under the Gardiner Expressway, will they now consider fixing the cracks and holes on the asphalt atop it?

Of course, there won't be a photo opportunity complete with a taxpayer-paid catering tent, apple cider and tiny party burgers, avocado and brie for that completion.

Meanwhile, some homeless people were hoping they were going to leave the rented tent down there so they could have a warm place to sleep.

"It's more wanton waste of taxpayers' money," said Councillor Doug Holyday of the whole thing. "There are a lot of things we could have done with that $115,000. We are under pressure to reduce library operations and skating rinks and this money could have helped there."

"Who on council voted for this?" added penny-pinching Councillor Rob Ford, who thinks this is right up there with bunny suits and popcorn machines out of councillors office budgets. "Where did this $115,000 come from? This is unbelievable."

But Councillor Joe Pantalone, on hand at the unveiling as deputy mayor, said this project represents the very beginning of Toronto as it is located at what will become the new front entrance for historic Fort York.

"It's an excellent way of recognizing our history and is part of the upcoming bicentennial celebration of the War of 1812 because without that there would be no Toronto."

All that being said, did it have to cost $115,000 when the city is $3 billion in debt?

"The cost is very reasonable ... it would cost Torontonians 1 cents a year," said Pantalone, adding, "man does not live on bread alone. We need soul and culture."

Soul and culture under the Gardiner Expressway. What's next? A sewer pipe beautification competition?




http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/article/714698--hume-a-watershed-for-toronto-artworks

Hume: A watershed for Toronto artworks

By Christopher Hume Urban Issues, Architecture
Published On Fri Oct 23 2009


Whether it's a case of making a silk purse out of a sow's ear or gilding the Gardiner is hard to say. Either way, the city's first permanent multi-media public artwork tries – and succeeds – in making the best of a bad situation.

Created by the veteran Toronto art duo of Lisa Steele and Kim Tomczak, the piece, titled Water Table, hangs beneath the Gardiner Expressway just south of Fort York, west of Bathurst St. Consisting of multiple strips of LED lighting strung across the rusty underbelly of the raised highway, its blue hued patterns are programmed to resemble the motion of waves as they hit the shores of nearby Lake Ontario. The sound of these waves has also been incorporated into the work, an aural clue, should one be necessary.

And as the title implies, the site was chosen because it marks the location of the shoreline before hundreds of metres of landfill were added, starting in the 19th century.

More than this, the piece is a unique presence in the city, an intrusion of civilization into a dark and forgotten section of the urban landscape. Until now, the wasteland has been little more than the price we must pay for the convenience of a downtown highway.

But with the growing interest in the public realm, perhaps it was only a matter of time before the city got around to addressing this swath of neglect that runs through the lower end of Toronto.

Whatever the reason, the city's decision to launch an international competition for an artwork on the Gardiner shows a new willingness to risk the disapproval of those who think the cash – $115,000 – would have been better spent fixing the potholes above.

To hell with them. Or, as we say in Canada, to heck with them. Given that it seems the talk about dismantling the dinosaur highway will go nowhere, maybe it makes more sense to turn it into an artwork.

If that's the case, this piece marks an excellent start to a process that still has a long way to go. The Gardiner stretches the width of the city, from the Don River in the east to the Humber River in the west. All we need is a few hundred more Water Tables.

Still, an outpouring of gratitude is unlikely; more probably, the city will be criticized for wasting taxpayers' hard-earned money on a frill such as art. Tomczak and Steele, prize-winning artists and teachers recognized around the world, will fare better.

Regardless, standing in this newly colonized space watching and listening as the blue lines undulate back and forth is a magical experience, especially at night. Culture vultures, who descended on the site for the opening Wednesday evening, witnessed this firsthand.

The sheer spectacle of these moving lines of blue light in such an unexpected location can't be denied. The historical references add another layer of interest.

Above all, Water Table serves as a reminder of the power of human imagination to transform our surroundings. Imagination is what got us into this mess in the first place, and now, Steele and Tomczak want us to know, it can get us out.
 

ProjectEnd

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I do like it, but the otherwise completely insane Warmington does make a point (let me explain!!).

I'd prefer to see the underside of the Gardiner retained for guerrilla art installations - a similar piece could have been created for a fraction of the cost were it left to the artists themselves. Of course, there would have to be some regulations concerning safety etc., but I think it would be forward thinking (for the left) and cost-effective (for the right) to allow local artists to stake out a piece of pillar and go to town. Over time, such pieces would be replaced, vandalized, reworked, enjoyed, hated, debated etc., all in keeping with the evolutionary nature of art as a reflection of where we stand as a society.

Best of all, it would shut the Fords of the city up by being freeeeeee...
 

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