Category Archives: data visualization

N.E. Thing Co., Circular Walk inside Arctic Circle, Around Inuvik, N.W.T. (1969)

grid of photos of a walk

Circular Walk inside Arctic Circle, Around Inuvik, N.W.T., 1969 silver prints, ink, paper, foil seal, offset lithograph on paper; 44 x 44 cm Collection of the Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery, University of British Columbia. Gift of Iain Baxter & and Ingrid Baxter, 1995 [credit]

“The concept of everydayness does not therefore designate a system, but rather a denominator common to existing systems including judicial, contractual, pedagogical, fiscal, and police systems. Banality? Why should the study of the banal itself be banal? Are not the surreal, the extraordinary, the surprising, even the magical, also part of the real? Why wouldn’t the concept of everydayness reveal the extraordinary in the ordinary?
—Henri Lefebvre

By making life more interesting for others, we may indirectly help to alleviate the human condition. We up your aesthetic quality of life, we up your creativity. We celebrate the ordinary.
—N.E. Thing Company

“To change life-style,” “to change society,” these phrases mean nothing if there is no production of an appropriated space.
—Henri Lefebvre

Throughout their collaboration (1966–1978), Iain and Ingrid Baxter utilized the N.E. Thing Company—their incorporated business and artistic moniker—as a vehicle through which to investigate artistic, domestic and corporate systems in relation to their everyday life. Like typical West Coast and Canadian artists, the Baxters made landscapes, though theirs were expanded to include the sites of work and leisure, and urban and suburban spaces. They were uninterested in painting pictures of Canadian wilderness as a hostile, unexplored territory full of myth, mystery or awe-striking grandeur—all that is other to the obvious and banal spaces of the everyday. Instead the Company’s landscapes investigated how information technologies, corporate relations and institutions such as the art world and the nuclear family interact to redefine “landscape” as a product of human interest, an element of subjectivity and charted its relationship to forms of identity and national positioning. NETCO’s reversals, reflections, inflatables, mappings, punnings, and measurements, disrupted unidimensional, unidirectional hegemonic annexations of space. The Company actively appropriated and transformed these spaces to allow for creative possibilities and critical potential. At the same time as the Baxters’ landscapes attempt to map out a coherent picture of fragmented realms, in a move that is characteristic of the contradictions explored in their work, these landscapes stake out a social topography in the emerging, geo-politically peripheral city of Vancouver in the late sixties.

Although the Baxters were contemporaries of the Situationists (who were among the first to incorporate Henri Lefebvre’s analysis of everyday life into their practice), it is necessary to distinguish NETCO from its French counterparts. Lefebvre and the Situationists saw everyday life as a site of revolutionary potential to be liberated through aggressive reversals and combative tactics of negation—a space from which to undermine the corporate state through dialectical analysis of and critical intervention in consumer society that revealed the stakes capital has in maintaining a separation between the realms of work and leisure, the political and the everyday.[1] Although the Baxters attempted to integrate the spheres of work and leisure, they aimed to open potential spaces of creativity within existing economic and political constraints by breaking down habitually assumed modes of perception in order to up the quality of life—a life that took account of family, business, and art activities. The Baxters proposed an agency that was expansive, inclusive and celebratory in place of the Situationist’s disruptive and radically motivated interventions. They playfully questioned their roles as entrepreneurs, artists, educators, parents and spouses, collapsing and infecting systemic boundaries in order to reinvestigate the elusive and taken-for-granted. …

As urban and corporate explorers, the Baxters set out on many sightseeing expeditions. In Circular Walk Inside the Arctic Circle Around Inuvik, NWT (1969) the Company presidents wore pedometers to scientifically mark the seven km or 10,314 steps travelled around the circumference of Inuvik. … The Arctic work, as well as other landscape pieces, were accompanied by standard road and geographical maps that the Baxters marked with instructions and drawings. In doing so they transformed official maps from representations of regulated and unidimensional space into dynamic and contingent space. By inflecting mapmaking practice with their actual experience of and activities in Inuvik, the Baxters transformed abstract and instrumentalizing concepts into the realm of the everyday, disrupting the objectivity of the rationalized grid that presupposes a homogeneous subject, and a static space that ignores time and history.” [credit]

Influenced by business studies and the theories of Marshall McLuhan, N.E. Thing Co. Ltd., and its treatment of art as “Sensitivity Information, ” has left a lasting impression on Conceptualism in Canada and abroad. Founded by Iain and Ingrid Baxter in 1966 and dissolved in 1978, N.E. Thing Co. began in a blur of short-lived corporate monikers. …

… the Baxters first used the alias N.E. Thing Co. in 1967. Following the company’s formal incorporation in 1969, they named themselves co-presidents in 1970. In this way, it was equally through the form of their practice—as co-presidents of a corporate structure—that made NETCO an instructive example in collaborative artmaking. However, as Marie Fleming suggested in her survey of the Baxters’ early work in 1982, it is difficult “to assess clearly the nature and development of the collaboration and to distinguish the individual contributions of Iain and Ingrid Baxter to work produced under the various rubrics. The issue has become sensitive since their separation in 1978.”2

By making use of technologies previously reserved for businesses – such as the telex and telecopier—the Baxters capitalized on their relatively peripheral situation.”

2N.E. Thing Co. (Vancouver: self-published, 1978), not paged.

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Walter de Maria, Mile Long Drawing (1968)

“For “Mile Long Drawing” (1968), the artist chalked two parallel lines 12 feet apart for the length of a mile in the Mojave Desert in California. This was one of his first land art pieces which saw him transport his minimalist ideas from the gallery to the outdoors. Obviously, the markings didn’t last long as they were drawn with chalk, and so the temporary nature of the work draws attention to the passing of time and the idea is that change is constant.” [credit]

Paul-Henry Chombart de Lauwe, Trajets pendant un an d’une jeune fille du XVIe arrondissement (1957)

map with many paths

Situationists’ maps combined objective with subjective. This idiosyncratic map is based on the movements of a single individual studying at the school of political science. A triangle emerges — the vertices are the residence, the university and the home of a piano teacher.

Robin Hewlet and Ben Kinsley, Street With a View (2008)

Google street view photos

Hewlett and Kinsley invited the Google Inc. Street View team and residents of Pittsburgh’s Northside to collaborate on a series of tableaux along Sampsonia Way.

Technicians captured 360-degree photographs of the scenes in action and integrated the images into Street View.

Richard Long, A Walk of Four Hours and Four Circles (1972)

Medium: Presstype on cut-and-pasted paper on printed map with pencil
Dimensions: 9 1/2 × 12 5/8″ (24.1 × 32.1 cm)

Consists of a map with said concentric circles indicated, along with the title. Writer Rebecca Solnit observes, “On the maps the route of the walk is drawn in to suggest that the walking is drawing on a grand scale, that his walking is to the land itself as his pen is to the map, and he often walks straight lines, circles, squares, spirals.” – Wanderlust: A History of Walking. Penguin Books, 2000. Page 270.

Dennis Oppenheim, Ground Mutations – Shoe Prints (1969)

Ground Mutations – Shoe Prints, November 1969, printed 2013

Black-and-white and color photographs and text on two panels

“Shoes with 1/4” diagonal grooves down the soles and heels were worn for three winter months. I was connecting the patterns of thousands of individuals… my thoughts were filled with marching diagrams.”

Michael Belmore, Coalescence (2017)

“Michael Belmore’s Coalescence was conceived as a single sculpture in four parts, [as part of LandMarks2017/ Repères2017 invites people to creatively explore and deepen their connection to the land through a series of contemporary art projects in and around Canada’s National Parks and Historic Sites from June 10-25, 2017.]. Sixteen stones, ranging in weight from 300 to 1,200 pounds, are fitted together and inlaid with copper, then situated to frame the vast distance between the southernmost boundary of the Laurentide Ice Sheet near Grasslands National Park in Saskatchewan, to one of its points of drainage into Hudson Bay in Churchill, Manitoba.

stone with copper

Sites in Riding Mountain National Park and The Forks National Historic Site, both in Manitoba, punctuate the stones’ migration. Together, the four locations mark meeting points between water and land: ancient shorelines, trade routes and meeting places, sites of annual mass migrations of animals, as well as the forced displacement of peoples.

Belmore uses copper as a way to invest the stones with labour and value. The stones come against each other to create a perfect fit, while their concave surfaces move apart slightly to reveal the warm glow of copper to reflect light. Each crevice is filled with a fire that will be extinguished with age, turning brown, then black, and reaching a luminous green hue as it settles into the landscape. They are a marker of how everything comes from the ground and returns to it, and how these processes stretch far beyond human understanding of time.

Belmore has created a moment of connection between deep geological time of stone and the linear human time of labour. On the occasion of the 150th anniversary of Confederation, this connection acts as a reminder of how the timelines of national celebration do not take into account the timelines of the land on which they take place. The stones were going to traverse a land familiar with rising and falling waters to reach their locations, but spring 2017 brought a record snowstorm and a spring melt that washed out the rail line that serves as the main transport artery between Churchill and southern Manitoba.

The political negotiations that followed have left the responsibility for its repair unresolved — part of the continued legacy of colonialism, the challenges of northern transportation and migration, and the importance of international trade routes that go back to Canada’s first trading posts. Belmore’s piece remains intact in Churchill, its splitting and migration halted by the processes that reach out from its conceptual core.” [credit]

Los Carpinteros, Sandalia (2004)

two scuptural flip flops

Two cast rubber sculptures
Each sandal: 12-3/4 x 5-3/4 x 2-1/2 inches

Edition: 60

“The sculpture multiple Sandalia is an edition of 60. The object is produced from a rapid prototype model and cast in rubber. By producing a limited edition of rubber sandals with relief maps of Havana neighborhoods on the soles, the artists adapted an ordinary object of mass production into a customized and poeticized icon that speaks of place, identity and culture. Sandalia derives from a series of watercolor drawings of sandals with maps. The right sandal depicts Old Havana, the left Vedado.”

“Over the past decade, Los Carpinteros (Marco Castillo and Dagoberto Rodriguez) have collaborated to develop their own poetic direction that functions in the imprecise boundary between art and craft traditions. Their carefully constructed works use humor to exploit a visual syntax that sets up contradictions among object, function and language.

Los Carpinteros have emerged as a vital force in the new, expanded terrain of global art. They live and work in Havana and Madrid and continue to travel and exhibit globally. For example: a major wall drawing was included in Drawing Now at the Museum of Modern Art-Queens, New York; their Transportable City was exhibited at the 7th Havana Biennial and at PS1 Contemporary Art Center in New York, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and the Contemporary Art Museum of Hawaii in Honolulu. In March, 2004 they exhibited a new body of work including drawings and large-scale wood sculptures at Anthony Grant, Inc. in New York City. In 2005 their exhibition Inventing the World premiered at the USF Contemporary Art Museum.”

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Lenka Clayton, The Distance I Can Be From My Son (2013)

The Distance I Can Be From My Son (Back Alley)

2013 / video series / 1:53 min

A series of videos that attempt to objectively measure the furthest distance I can be from my son in a variety of environments; a city park, a back alley and Shursave supermarket.

Made during An Artist Residency in Motherhood. [credit]