The Bentway Helps You Remix Public Space with Directions to Nowhere in Particular

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The new participatory web-based project uses technology to remix how you experience public space

Recently launched to the public, Directions to Nowhere in Particular is a creative platform that alters the ways you sense, make, and navigate public space. A joint project from The Bentway – a public space, and cultural programmer, located underneath a downtown expressway in Toronto, CAN – and From Later – a Toronto-based foresight studio – the participatory web-based platform explores how people and places relate, and form publics, through everyday software.

The platform contains over 60 creative prompts that challenge people to use technology to unlock layers of urban space they might usually ignore, cuing attention to subtle sounds, sights, and smells that are often overlooked. Many of the prompts playfully direct participants to (mis)use digital tools to produce new kinds of socio-poetic moments. Play itself becomes a technology for testing and transforming our very conceptions of a public.

In the process, people will give new names to areas and objects, invent location-specific stories, ascribe personalities to inanimate stuff, draw new connections, remember untold histories, and imagine possible futures. Directions to Nowhere hopes to tie intimate relations within our networks. Attuning to local ecologies and attending to the available digital affordances, hopefully this kind of play can weave a more textured public fabric — online, offline, and all between the lines.

The Bentway has been working with a diverse group of creatives to explore the platform, including: Bianca Weeko Martin, Toronto, CAN; Simon Robinson, Melbourne AUS; Ingrid Burrington, Brookyln USA; Kofi Oduro, Montreal CAN; Lauren Lee McCarthy, Los Angeles, USA; Mayumi Lashbrook, Toronto, CAN; Willi Dorner, Vienna, AUT; Hombre McSteez, San Francisco, USA; Deaf Spectrum, Calgary, CAN; Alyssa Alikpala, Toronto, CAN; iNdigitalYouth Collective, Toronto, CAN; Vivian Rosas, Toronto, CAN; Olivia Mckayla Ross, Queens, USA; Carmen Aguilar y Wedge, London, UK; Alison Creba, Toronto, CAN; Howard Tam, Toronto, CAN; Marcus Brittan Fleming, New York, USA.

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Anyone can participate. All you have to do is go outside, pull up directionstonowhere.com on your phone, pick a prompt, and follow the directions to begin interacting with your surroundings. The public is encouraged to share their creative journeys using the hashtag #DirectionsToNowhere or through the “Journeys” section of the website.

Directions to Nowhere in Particular is part of The Bentway’s Digital and/as Public Space initiative, and is meant to be a fun and accessible way to explore ideas, stray thoughts, and questions surrounding hybrid digital/physical publicness that emerged from the larger initiative.

Special thanks to the Balsam Foundation and the Canada Council for the Arts.


ABOUT THE BENTWAY
The Bentway re-imagines how we build, experience, activate, and value public space together. Of the city; about the city; for the city.

The Bentway Conservancy is an independent charity, a not-for-profit profit powered by vital partnerships with the City of Toronto, residents, supporters, artists, creatives, city-builders, and dreamers.

Our work is anchored by a new and growing site located under Toronto’s Gardiner Expressway, which we operate, maintain, and program as a platform for creative practice, public art, and connected urban life. As a new model for public space in Toronto and a forum for social engagement, The Bentway continues to evolve amidst the changing landscape of the city, developing opportunities and partnerships that address the key issues of our time.

ABOUT FROM LATER
From Later is a foresight studio. As a transdisciplinary team of artists and foresight strategists with backgrounds ranging from arts and engineering to law and finance, they monitor and make sense of change, developing clear-sighted and judicious futures perspectives. From Later’s collaborative (arts) practice involves defining new territories for focused research; mapping consequences and imagining possible futures; and critically interpreting ideas through speculative prototypes and artifacts.

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The Bentway
250 Fort York Blvd. Toronto ON M5V 3K9
hello@thebentway.ca
416-304-0222

thebentway.ca
@thebentway

The Bentway is an open and accessible space.

Photos: Directions to Nowhere in Particular, 2021, designed by Nomadic Labs