EDIT is a design and technology exposition with big aspirations to change the world.
“In the Fall of 2015, 193 world leaders created the 17 Global Goals for Sustainable Development as part of a strategy to end extreme poverty, inequality and climate change by 2030. Inspired by the SDG’s, EDIT is a celebration of design’s role in combatting these challenges.”
Installed for a week (Sept 28 – Oct 8) in a huge derelict soap factory (probably why it’s much cleaner than the Hearn Generating Station, Luminato’s 2016 location), the intention was to inspire, connect, demonstrate, and share solutions to global problems.
WHAT WE SAW
This is only a random sample, a taste. The former Unilever factory is enormous, 150,000 sq. ft. with displays on several floors. It’s exciting to be allowed in to a normally inaccessible manufacturing space, but fatigue set in long before we could see it all. Many panels, workshops, and demonstrations took place throughout the week and that’s the ideal experience. The exhibits without interpreters or opportunities for discussion varied in animation and clarity of explanation. Much of Prosperity for All, for example, was simply large display boards with images and text, well-designed but with no docents or human presence to interpret or discuss; the sort of presentation that is better as a book. But some exciting and inspirational exhibits caught our attention, beginning with an art installation that acknowledged the site as a former manufacturing facility. Constantly changing shape and colour, it suggested possibilities and new creations:
Hot Process Dispersion – Channeling the history of the former industrial soap factory, this artwork by Toronto’s Christine Leu and Alan Webb combines elements of apparatus with the commodities of production to create a kinetic space of dialogue and reflection on the ghosts of manufacturing within our city.
Orenda – A city car whose design is inspired by the original Canadian vehicle, the canoe! Powered by battery and built of ash, a flexible material now in plentiful supply as our ash forests are decimated by the emerald ash borer.
The Future is Small – An algae bio-reactor scrubber. 160 litres of suspended Chlorella micro-algae provide enough oxygen for a family of four (the equivalent of two mature trees) and when mature can be harvested, dried and eaten.
Bee’s – an innovative medical diagnostic tool that uses the capacities and sensitivities of bees to detect disease.
The discussion reflected on the experience of transforming the Hearn Generating Station for Luminato 2016, and the importance of cultural institutions being flexible spaces that incorporate a variety of arts experiences and audiences, and that take advantage of the rich patina of existing vintage or disused urban spaces.
Moderator: Shauna Levy, President and CEO, Design Exchange
Jörn Weisbrodt, former Artistic Director of the Luminato Festival
Anthony Sargent, CEO of Luminato
Clyde Wagner, President and CEO Civic Theatres Toronto, formerly Executive Producer at Luminato
November Paynter, Director of Programs at Museum of Contemporary Art, Toronto
Jack Diamond, Principal at Diamond Schmitt Architects
WHAT TO MAKE OF IT
EDIT is thoughtful, democratic, and inclusive. Admission was inexpensive, thus inviting citizens and not simply industry or design insiders, broadening awareness and discussion. It reminded us all of our capacities for invention and intended to inspire us to work towards egalitarian and ecological solutions. Much of the exposition was about solving very defined design problems. It’s fun to see a chair collapse and then pull itself together and upright again, but in some ways that is the easy part. The hard part is what comes next – how to get the world to value these processes and solutions, accept them, produce them, choose them, use them.
The thing is, even if I didn’t know exactly all these specific new ideas, I did know that there are always a million new and ingenious solutions to the issues we face. And in spite of that fact poverty, climate change, and inequality remain dire realities. Brilliant inventions are created but not implemented. The idea of this exhibition is to make connections and attract investors in order to produce a new and fair reality. It wants to use capitalism to make progressive change, even though that’s the system which has enabled and increased these gross inequities across the globe in the first place.
The products, processes and ideas presented at EDIT are inspirational and, it’s hoped, galvanizing. But the means to achieve these solutions involves radical, transformative political change. Prosperity for All has never been impossible. It’s a choice – in fact a series of difficult, ongoing choices. What was clear from this exhibition is that when we initiate that political change, designers will be there ready with sustainable and equitable options.
– Schuster Gindin
Photos by Schuster Gindin
Radical, transformative political change is key. I would line up for the city car based on the design of the canoe IF I lived in Toronto that is.
Cheryl Kryzaniwsky, Port Elgin ON