Last Thursday, some friends and I unveiled a special interactive exhibition for Culture Days’ 1st National Congress on Culture. Featuring the common paper clip as an emblem of Culture Days’ role in facilitating knowledge exchange as well as artistic development, the interactive exhibition was created to engage Congress participants with the Culture Days themes of “create, participate, celebrate.”
Delegates at the Congress were invited to make art out of paper clips – and this invitation they took up in droves! Everywhere you looked, people were twisting, assembling, designing paper clip art. Many of them took their work home with them (the jewellery pieces especially!) but you can view their works on Instagram by searching #CultureDays and #paperclipart. You can also add a photo of your own creation – wherever you are! The Culture Days “Art My Paper Clip!” online gallery shows some of the most recent uploads.
As with all my Marginalia projects, this exhibition was one of several components of an integrated effort to animate the main event’s themes and intentions. One of the other components was a bit of a performance – by me! During the Congress, I was the online host for the Live Stream (i.e. simultaneous webcast) which meant I was watching, reflecting & commenting on what was happening on stage and in the room while I was reading, retweeting, replying and contributing to the conversation on Twitter and the chatroom that accompanies the webcast. Yes, it was a bit confusing.
I felt as if I was occupying about 5 different micro-timezones and people in the Twitterverse were zooming back and forth in time — well mostly from the present to the past, not sure if anyone went to the future… except they did! Everyone’s stream of the live Congress was a little bit different in lag time – some got the video & audio about 20 seconds after the real thing happened on stage (standard lag) while some others might experience a little bit more lag than others, if their Internet connection was not as fast. Compound that with the different typing/tweeting speeds of each individual — tada! Construction of micro time zones. Some folks seem to be prophetically talking about the future, while others seem ever so slightly behind the times.
All things relative. And I am probably the only person who noticed. Very fun, very odd, very very strange. After spending a whole day living across micro time zones, I actually had some difficult re-adjusting back. Sitting at the dinner table with the other artists seemed strangely… contained. All of us in one time zone. In one space. “Error, error. Does not compute.”
Has something like that ever happened to you?
By the way, here’s the official artistic statement for the exhibition:
“Art My Paper Clip” – An Interactive Exhibition for Culture Days
In the foyer of the Culture Days National Congress, you will encounter a small interactive exhibition of art made by local artists and members of the public using paper clips.
You are invited to participate.
144 display boxes await your creativity. Twist, connect, combine, and unfurl your imagination to fashion a fantasy creature, sculpture, wire art, message or hieroglyph.
In the 200+ years since its popular appearance, the paper clip has been reinvented, redesigned, and repurposed for many ends – from lock-picking to rescuing jewellery lost in the sink drain, from holding back hair to assuming the role as an animated avatar for Microsoft’s controversial Office Assistant (now retired).
An item you may find in homes as well as businesses, in schools as well as hospitals, serving the young, the old and everyone else in between… From holding sheets of paper in the desired sequence to being used to reset digital devices gone awry… The lowly paper clip has quietly facilitated cultural progress and knowledge exchange from the Industrial Era to today’s Information Age.
In the same vein, relating to Culture Days’ themes of “create – participate – celebrate,” this interactive exhibition invites you to contemplate and continue the common paper clip’s metamorphosis.
Stack them, unwind them, sculpt them, glue them, magnetize them, photograph and animate them. Arrange the works into a tableau scene or narrative. Take rubbings and make prints. The sky’s the limit.
All paper clip art made during the Congress will be photographed and added to Culture Days’ Instagram gallery, where more people may view, comment and discuss the works.
As well, everyone is welcome to add a photo of their paper clip art directly to the gallery by posting the photo to Instagram using both hashtags: #culturedays #paperclipart
Art My Paper Clip is a project by artist & community engagement specialist Helen Yung. Since 2009, Helen has been creating “Marginalia” – responsive installations, interactions and interventions she designs for the “margins” of events – as a component of her interdisciplinary practice. www.helenyung.com
Concept & Direction: Helen Yung
Display Case Design & Construction: Foundation Creative Studio
Paper Clip Exhibition Artist-Animateurs: Anita Agrawal, Alison Gledhill, Danielle Guevara, Judy Verseghy, Marjan Verstappen and Han Zhang
Additional Paper Clip Art by: Humboldt Magnussen, Martin Stewart, Chantal Watkinson, Takis Zourntos… and you!
Special thanks to: Culture of Cities Centre, Toronto Laser Services