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Daniels Faculty Introduces a New Experimental Gallery

Photo by Scott Norsworthy.

The John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design is launching a 7,500-square-foot experimental gallery with a metaphoric cave installation, located in the lower level of the Daniels Facility.

Curated by Professor Richard Sommer and New York-based designers, Pillow Culture, the Architecture and Design Gallery’s inaugural installation, New Circadia (adventures in mental spelunking), prompts participants to ask: What would happen if we disconnected from standard time and external stimuli within a dream-like space specifically designed for relaxation, reflection, and repose?

New Circadia (an approximate translation from Latin for “New Day”) has been conceived to engage the city and the University of Toronto community alike in an underground, cave-like, soft utopia.

“Architecture today is inextricably bound up in the urbanization of the planet, and it needs to pay as much attention to the marking of time, as it traditionally has to the shaping of space,” says co-curator, Richard Sommer, Dean and Professor at the Daniels Faculty. “With New Circadia, we are acknowledging architecture’s complicity in an increasingly stressful and zombie-like world by presenting an antidote to the over-mechanization of everyday life and our plugged-in, 24/7 culture. Might it be time to put architecture to sleep?”

The interactive installation will be made up of three zones. Beginning at the east entrance of the Daniels Building, visitors will enter a subterranean space through a Transitory Zone or “mouth of the cave,” illuminated with an artificial skylight created via digital technology.

Moving through a felt envelope, participants will enter the main cave space, an uncanny Dark Zone, with a large yet soft rock-like lounge-scape, animated with responsive sound and light.

Oneiroi will invite visitors to anonymously record their personal dreams and listen to those recorded by others.

Throughout the installation, visitors will be encouraged to make use of the cave’s soft infrastructure, including its felted floors and walls, to engage in self-directed rest and meditation.

Inspired by both the 1938 Mammoth Cave, and the synesthetic happenings of the 1960’s and 70’s, this haptic installation will offer visitors a variety of experiences, including a series of thematic lectures, multidisciplinary performances, dialogues, film screenings, and nocturnes.

New Circadia’s events and programming will be organized around six time-based themes: story time, deep time, wasting time, break time, marking time, and dream time.

“We have transformed the new Architecture and Design Gallery into a soft utopia to conjure a greater sense of geological, mythical, mechanical, and biological time, and to explore how we might nurture a more sustained interior life by incubating dream-like states of rest, reflection, and reverie,” say co-curators Natalie Fizer and Emily Stevenson of the firm Pillow Culture.

Both the space and programming of New Circadia is aimed at demonstrating that idling, whether by sleeping, dreaming, napping, or meditating, is not lost, unproductive time, but rather an essential state of mind and body, connected to experiences vital to our survival and evolution.

The New Circadia launch event is on November 7, 2019 at 7:30pm. The installation and affiliated events will run until April 30, 2020.

For more information visit daniels.utoronto.ca.

Photo by Scott Norsworthy.
Photo by Scott Norsworthy.
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