Friday Feature: Dancers Among Us

Today I wanted to share this really cool project by photographer Jordan Matter called Dancers Among Us and features people joyously interacting with the city around them. The series was conceived by Matter after watching his kids play with their toys – creating worlds that were full of life, excitement, and exploration.

The inspiration for this project came to me one afternoon as I watched my son play with his toy bus. I was trying to follow the fantasy racing through his three-year-old mind, as he intensely played with a yellow plastic box and armless figurines. At least that’s what I saw. He saw a thriving community rushing to catch the 77 local bus to Australia. He frantically jumped in place, mouth agape and slapping his knees, joyously reacting to a world I couldn’t see, but one nonetheless powerfully present for him. As we get older and wiser, what happens to this enthusiasm, this ability to be wholly present in the moment? Why are these pure moments of passion so often replaced by cynicism, boredom, and indifference? As I played with my son, I thought about creating photographs that would show the world as if through the fantastical eyes of a child. The people in the images would be alive and in the moment, celebrating all aspects and emotions of everyday life….The essence of the subject material parallels the current state of our society, where people are finding an appreciation of smaller, simpler pleasures. The images are infused with a humor and joyfulness that make the viewer feel good. The carefree nature of the work is a welcome antidote to the persistent anxiety that defines many people’s lives. – Jordan Matter

The photographs are so charming and really capture that sense of wonder, imagination and bliss that can be found in everyday life. I originally wanted to say so much more about them, but I feel the excerpt above really captures it all and highlights the importance of looking at the world with new eyes and not allowing yourself to be overwhelmed by cynicism.

     

I’m drawn to these photos because they capture exactly how I feel when I’m truly inspired by a city, whether it is a new place I’m visiting for the first time or a street I’ve walked hundreds of times and I happen to notice something new. It’s an unbridled excitement and an eagerness to take it all in. It is a good reminder to take the time to really enjoy and be inspired by your surroundings – allow yourself to relish a little in the possibility of it all!

Have a great weekend!

** mouse over images for credit info.

Friday Feature: Dancers Among Us

Friday Feature: Optical Kinetic Crosswalks

Just a quick post today to show some great crosswalk art by artist Carlos Cruz Diez whose work largely centers around colour phenomena. All of his ‘Intervention in Urban Spaces‘ work (spanning from the late 1960s to today) is quite captivating with the bright colours, but I can’t resist how cool his crosswalks are! It’s just another great example of adding interest to the urban landscape while encouraging people to interact with art everyday (here it is optical kinetic art).

I’d love to see something like this project at the Museum of Fine Art in Houston installed near the RPL Central Branch and Dunlop Art Gallery! And don’t worry – they always incorporate the reflective white stripes as per transportation safety regulations.

There’s also a Cruz Diez app! Check it out: “Interactive Random Chromatic Experience

** mouse over images for credit info. (top photo; bottom photo)

Friday Feature: Optical Kinetic Crosswalks

Friday Feature: LED Backpacks For Cycling Safety

We’re doing something a little different here at RUE for our Friday Feature this week. We often take Friday to showcase cool urban interventions, art projects, and programs/initiatives that people have started to increase citizen engagement. But I realized that we’ve never really showcased ‘gear’ on the blog – products that are useful when living and working in the city.

I came across these LED backpacks the other day and think they are fantastic! Many of us who’ve cycled at night know that it can be a little nerve-wracking. Even if you wear reflector strips on your clothing and have a light on the front of your bike, you never really know if the cars zooming past actually see you. What’s more, it’s also a lot harder to communicate your movements to drivers – those hand signals seem to get more obscure as the sun goes down.

 

Designer Lee Myung Su responded to this situation (and the overall need for better communication between cyclists and drivers in general) by creating the SEIL bag – it stands for Safe, Enjoy, Interact, Light. The cyclist can control the messages and symbols that read across the back including right and left arrows for turning, the word “stop”, and even emoticons and messages! And since it’s a backpack it is also super functional for carrying your daily needs as you traverse the city streets.

I appreciate when design blends purpose/utility, style, and a sense of fun – these backpacks certainly do a good job of that in my books. I’d love to see a barrage of cyclists wearing these with fun messages take to the streets!

Have a great weekend everyone (and go for a nice bike ride)!

** video and photo via Lee Myung Su Design Lab

Friday Feature: LED Backpacks For Cycling Safety

Friday Feature: Pothole Gardens

We are nearing the end of April – well into the swing of spring (save a few small weather hiccups here and there) and that means that it’s pothole season.  People like to joke annually about what to do with these gaping crevices: sail tiny ships, go fishing, take a sponge bath… maybe not the last one – in fact, CBC Saskatchewan just ran a contest a few weeks ago on this exact topic.

This week I came across the work of installation and print designer Pete Dungey who creates Pothole Gardens in the UK. They’re such a delightful way to draw attention to something most people find irritating and complain ad nausem about.

Pete’s website describes the Pothole Gardens as “A series of public installations highlighting the problem of surface imperfections on Britain’s roads.”… indeed. I say when life hands you surface imperfections you create perfect joy! Now that’s what I call true urban gardening.

‘If we planted one of those in every hole, it would be like a forest in the road’

- Pete Dungey

Have a great weekend everyone!

** Mouse over images for credit info.

Friday Feature: Pothole Gardens

Friday Feature: My Excitement!

That’s right… the feature this week is my excitement over our collaborative project with Regina Downtown BID and the U of R Arts CARES program – it’s hard to believe that it kicks off next week! I can’t wait to see what our student volunteers put together after chatting with local business owners, artists, and community groups.

I put out the call for potential projects that RUE could undertake with some U of R students waaaaaay back in NovemberShortly after that I was contacted by the folks over at Regina Downtown about the possibility of collaborating on a project and, after some chatting about the possibilities, we decided to focus on a project related to the re-use of vacant store spaces within downtown Regina. I’ve blogged about some different projects that activate vacant space, and have provided a few updates along the way as well. But next week this all gets real!

This week we’ve been putting together materials for the students and recruiting the last few community representatives, artists, and local businesses. Next week Martin is going to be checking out the project, chatting with the students, and providing RUE readers with some updates and thoughts coming out of the discussions – I look forward to your comments and feedback. It’s been a fun project to work on thus far and hopefully the one week intensive will provide some information on how to continue the momentum and interest moving forward.

For this last update before we get rolling, here is an interview with Marcus Westbury of Renew Newcastle in Australia about how these sorts of projects can dramatically change neighbourhoods. You can read more about Renew Newcastle here, or check out this great video of a talk he gave to Projects for Public Spaces – in particular, go to 28:00 to check out some great transformations!

*Also – go show the Novia Cafe a little bit of love today. Between 10:30-1:30pm today they’ve got some live acts playing (you can also head down just to enjoy the food and atmosphere any day).

Have a great weekend!

** photo by Aaron Hase

Friday Feature: My Excitement!

Friday Feature: Musée Des Possibles

Today’s feature is a really fun citizen engagement project that took place last summer in Montreal – the Musée des Possibles (Museum of Possibilities). The project was created by Melissa Mongiat, Mouna Andraos and Kelsey Snook.

The Musée took place for one day in a new public space that was created as part of the Quartier des Spectacles district in downtown Montreal. It offered citizens a chance to imagine and share their thoughts for what the space could be and what might happen there. As the name suggests, the possibilities were endless! Continue reading “Friday Feature: Musée Des Possibles”

Friday Feature: Musée Des Possibles

Friday Feature: Interactive Infrastructure

Today’s feature is all about interactive infrastructure, and features three videos of just that – a playful bench, musical stairs, and a fun concept for a trash bin.

This post was inspired by a short discussion in the comments of last week’s feature on the National Infrastructure Summit. Paul Dechene from Prairie Dog noted that he thought the NIS (a major gathering of mayors and policy makers) went by largely unnoticed by the larger population. Surprising considering the level of frustration on behalf of citizens with respect to property tax increases the City just set to deal with infrastructure issues. The trend of people wanting to receive more services while demanding fewer taxes is common – but when politicians try to support this scary form of entitlement, infrastructure and public services suffer. Continue reading “Friday Feature: Interactive Infrastructure”

Friday Feature: Interactive Infrastructure