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Taien Ng-Chan

November 01, 2017

Taien Ng-Chan is a poet, media artist, and professor at York University. Her interactive video installation Stratigraphic City just opened at the Art Gallery of Windsor’s 2017 Windsor-Essex Triennial of Contemporary Art. She is also the inaugural Artist-in-Residence at Ryerson University’s Faculty of Community Services for 2017-2018.

1. Mapping

Stratigraphic City at the AGW Triennial

A lot of my recent (and not-so-recent) work is about mapping. Stratigraphic City is an interactive map made from Google Maps and Google searches as well as hand-drawn poetic maps. My last video, Superhighway Suspense Movie, was made from over two thousand Google Streetview screenshots of driving down Highway 403. My PhD dissertation was about creative practices of mapping while commuting. I like looking at maps, making maps, thinking about maps.... maps, maps, maps, maps, maps. Has the word lost its sense of meaning yet?

2. Walking

Walking ties in with mapping, because they are both fundamentally about moving through space and place. Plus, as one of the founders of Hamilton Perambulatory Unit (HPU), walking with my co-conspirators Donna Akrey and Sarah Truman is the best kind of research.

3. #allwhitepanels

Mr. T doesn’t work as well for the All White Panels tumblr as David Hasselhoff does for the "Hoffsome" All Male Panels site (though there is so much overlap), but they were both hilariously and brilliantly created by Dr. Saara Särmä of the University of Tampere in Finland. Anyone can add to the visual archive of the many, many #allmalepanels (and frequently #allwhite as well) that are documented here to poke fun at and internet shame the organizers of the panels. #allwhitepanels, like the one pictured above, are, for some reason, closer to sad than funny, so I guess Mr. T is fitting after all. We laugh so that we may not cry. Ha! Ha!

But in all seriousness, diversity/equity/inclusion is a bit of a problem in Hamilton. My adopted city is currently in the throes of an #allwhiteculturalrenaissance. For instance, nearly every new restaurant that opens on "hip" streets like Locke and now James is white people food or fusion or white people appropriating POC food. Some of it is really good food – don’t get me wrong. But really? More pizza/burgers/kimchisomething? Thankfully there are a few restaurants/people that buck this trend, like #NoodleMe (hand-shaved noodles, omg). The culture/arts scene leans towards all white as well, even though the city itself does not. The NEW Committee at the Hamilton Artists Inc., of which I am currently a member, was started as an artist-action-committee to address this within the Inc. – as a starting point at the very least. We need to keep highlighting and working against the all white panel/exhibition/board/etc. We need to laugh, too, so we don’t take ourselves too seriously. NEW: Not Everything’s for Whitey. Ha! Ha!

4. Montreal bagels

I lived in Montreal for twenty years, but I never appreciated the bagels so much as when I could no longer have them anytime I wanted. Stumbling down a dark alley, half-drunk, with a hot bagel in hand… Ah! I miss them so much. (P.S. I did the taste test and I couldn’t tell the difference.)

5. Thing poetry

My newest project for my Ryerson artist residency is The Trajectories of Things. It is based on “thing poetry” (as practiced by poets such as Francis Ponge and Pablo Neruda) and what I’m calling “object-oriented storytelling” as a participatory and experimental exploration of anti-neoliberal values. Do you have a thing that has no practical use, but you keep for its memory value or poetic worth? Answer the questionnaire at



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Posted by Simon Glass, on 2017-11-30 12:29:53
Bageltime on the Danforth in Toronto makes good Montreal style bagels.