Making a Network of Relations Visible: Where are the margins of the local? What are the ethics of data/representation?

An online conversation with Deanna Fong, Ryan Rice, Constance Crompton, and Tomasz Neugebauer as part of the speaker series Desire Lines presented by the Art Gallery of York University (AGYU) in coordination with Artexte and Spoken Web

Curated by Felicity Tayler and Michael Maranda, with assistance from Faith Paré
Friday, August 6, 2021 @ 2 – 3:30 pm
To register for this panel, please visit:


The Desire Lines series began with the proposition that we could see communities formed around print production in Toronto, between 1978 and 1988, by drawing network visualizations from the metadata describing magazine issues. This final panel in the series brings together different perspectives on the ethics of working with collective mapping practices and metadata to make visible relationships in archives and periodicals, which may or may not resonate in human hearts. What are the ethics of working with metadata? Do these algorithmically-derived relationships resonate in human hearts? How do we address the absences in these networks?

For Making a Network of Relations Visible, we bring together four people whose work is intimately tied to the quantitative (metadata analysis) and qualitative (oral histories) methodologies we have explored over the course of this project. Tomasz Neugebauer, a librarian from Concordia University with a particular interest in data visualization, has been central in the creation of the network maps that are at the core of this project. Constance Crompton, Canadian Research Chair in Digital Humanities at University of Ottawa researches the ethical and methodological potential for code to represent queer cultural histories. Deanna Fong, a postdoctoral fellow at Concordia University and member of the SpokenWeb, works at the intersection of oral histories and social metadata, with a particular interest in the ethics of listening for gender relations in recordings of cultural events. Ryan Rice, curator and professor at OCAD University, has been involved in ongoing work tracing absences and presences in contemporary OnkwehĂłn:we visual art exhibition and publishing histories, and he brings to this series a vital reminder of different research modes for exploring the textures of relations in artistic communities of Tkaronto/Toronto.

This final Desire Lines panel will be a thinking-through what we’ve learned along the way from all our speakers and listening audiences. Can these networks be perceived as hopeful social movements, or are they the product of the computational algorithms of oppression? Is listening with care to oral histories a way to get closer to respectful engagement with the humans behind the data? And why the absences? The absences, what you cannot see, are just as important as what is visible to you in the data.

Presenter Bios:

Constance Crompton is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication at the University of Ottawa and Canada Research Chair in Digital Humanities. She directs the University of Ottawa’s Labo de données en sciences humaines/The Humanities Data Lab and co-directs the Lesbian and Gay Liberation in Canada project. She is part of the Linked Infrastructure for Networked Cultural Scholarship and Implementing New Knowledge Environments Partnership research teams. She serves as VP English of the Canadian Society for Digital Humanities / Société canadienne des humanités numériques and an associate director of the Digital Humanities Summer Institute (uVictoria), North America’s largest digital humanities training institute. She lives and works on unceded Algonquin territory.

Deanna Fong is a SSHRC-funded Postdoctoral Fellow at Concordia University where her research project, “Towards an Ethics of Listening in Literary Study” intersects the fields of Oral History and Literature through an investigation of interviewing and listening practices. She co-directs the audio/multimedia archives of Fred Wah, for which she was recently awarded a SSHRC IDG grant to pursue research on social metadata. Her critical work appears in the recent publications Canlit Across Media (MQUP, 2019) and Pictura: Essays on the Works of Roy Kiyooka (Guernica Editions, 2020). With Karis Shearer, she co-edited Wanting Everything: The Collected Works of Gladys Hindmarch (Talonbooks, 2020).

Tomasz Neugebauer is the Digital Projects & Systems Development Librarian at Concordia University, where he participates in the design, development, and implementation of various research and library applications. His current research interests include information visualization, linked open data, metadata interoperability, open-source software systems used for digital curation, preservation, and the building of digital repository infrastructure. Tomasz has developed software for the visualization of bibliographic metadata, DNA data, and a number of software plugins to the EPrints digital repository platform. In 2013, he helped to launch the e-Artexte open access digital repository. He has been collaborating with the SpokenWeb research project since 2016. Tomasz is the editor of the PhotographyMedia, containing a blog and a selection of his data visualization and photography.

Ryan Rice, Kanien’kehá:ka of Kahnawake, is a curator, Associate Professor, and the Associate Dean in the Faculty of Arts and Science at OCAD University, Toronto. His institutional and independent curatorial career spans 30 years in community, museums, artist run centres, and galleries. Rice’s writing on contemporary Onkwehón:we art has been published in numerous periodicals and exhibition catalogues, and he has lectured widely. He is currently working on three solo exhibitions including Jordan Bennett: Souvenir for Onsite Gallery and Pageant: Natalie King for Centre [3], while his touring exhibition Bait: Couzyn van Heuvelen recently ended in Summer 2021. Rice was recently appointed Curator, Indigenous Art at Onsite Gallery (OCAD) and is currently developing two public art projects as the Indigenous Public Art Curator with Waterfront Toronto.

Desire Lines: the series:

The trajectory of arts magazine publishing in Toronto from the 1970s onward has always been a space criss-crossed by lines of desire. This speaker series takes an algorithmically produced network diagram of publishing metadata as a jumping off point for story-telling around personal memories.

This series is organized by Felicity Tayler, Interim Head, Research Support (Arts and Special Collections) at the University of Ottawa Library and Michael Maranda, assistant curator. New generation respondents are curated by Faith Paré, made possible by an RA-ship from the SpokenWeb partnership. The background to the series comes out of a metadata analysis of three magazines from the seventies and eighties, Fuse, Border/Lines, and Fireweed, that Tayler put together with Tomasz Neugebauer of Concordia University.

Video recordings of the series, transcripts of the speakers’ voices, and commissioned responses by a new generation of writers will be published online, inscribing their depositions into the archives of local art histories. The series is functioning as a prequel of sorts for the physical exhibition Lignes de désire // Desire Lines: Displaced Narratives of Place, to be held at Artexte in Montreal. Because the exhibition is in perpetual pandemic delay, this speaker series will work as an engagement in the present, which simultaneously acknowledges a continual deferral.

Again, to register for this panel:
And for more on the series:



The Art Gallery of York University (AGYU) is a public, university-affiliated, non-profit contemporary art gallery supported by York University, the Canada Council for the Arts, the Province of Ontario through the Ontario Arts Council, the City of Toronto through the Toronto Arts Council, and by its membership.

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