lines and nodes_FB cover 01A one-day event gathering scholars and artists who study the politics and affects of human-made infrastructures. Sunday, 22 February, 2015 12-8pm, Daniels School of Architecture, University of Toronto, Room 103

230 College Street (Please use Huron Street entrance)

This symposium and screening event will bring together artists and scholars to examine the political, aesthetic and affective dimensions of extraction, infrastructure and logistics. We convene this event to interrogate the relationships between the representations of such dynamics and the larger forces that they condense: globalization, digitization, territorialization, labor migration, displacement, sustainability, security, accumulation and colonialism. The symposium’s keynote presenter will be Swiss filmmaker/researcher Ursula Biemann, who has for the past twenty years produced a respected body of essay films that interrogate global relations under the impact of the accelerated mobility of people, resources and information. She will screen three recent works alongside a program with works by CAMP, Mathieu Kleyebe Abonnenc & others. The event will also feature presentations by Brenda Longfellow, Michelle Murphy and Deborah Cowen.

This program is adapted from the recent Lines and Nodes symposium in New York curated by Brooke Belisle, Leo Goldsmith, Ben Mendelsohn, Sukhdev Sandhu, Nicole Starosielski, and Chi-hui Yang (

This event is sponsored by: Intersections Speaker Series: Department of Geography and Planning at University of Toronto, Department of Film at York University, Cinema Studies Institute at University of Toronto,  Pleasure Dome, and John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Design.

*This event is free of charge, fully accessible and open to the public. We will also be collecting donations for Groundswell Community Justice Trust Fund



Brenda Longfellow presents Offshore interactive web documentary OFFSHORE is an interactive web documentary and installation that explores the dark waters of the global offshore oil industry in the wake of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion. This presentation will take viewers through a short exploration of the key design elements of the project while reflecting on the project’s methodologies and creative evolution.


Michelle Murphy presents ‘Chemical Infrastructures’
This talk offers the concept of “chemical infrastructures” as a way to challenge the way state regulation and conventional toxicology works to narrow the politics of chemical exposure to the fetish of the harm a single chemical can predictably cause. Drawing on research about the ecological history of the St. Clair and Detroit Rivers (which run from Lake Huron to Lake Erie), the talk traces a “chemical infrastructure” entangled with the politics of colonialism, race, intergenerational survival, and temporal expressions of chemical violence.

Discussion moderated by Shiri Pasternak



Film & Video Screening:

Len Lye – TRADE TATTOO (1937, 5 min, 16mm) One of Lye’s many works commissioned by Britain’s General Post Office, TRADE TATTOO transforms “the rhythm of work-a-day Britain” into a psychedelic play of shapes and surface textures.

CAMP – CCTV SOCIAL: CAPITAL CIRCUS (2014, 27 min, video) In this inquiry into surveillance, the image and power, CAMP collaborated with Manchester Metropolitan University and Arndale Shopping Center to open working CCTV environments to a general audience. Surveillance feeds capture a man getting members of the public to sign an “image-release” form, a provision of the UK Data Protection Act, reshifting dynamics of image control.

Larilyn Sanchez – BALIKBAYAN (5 mins, video)

A migrant worker sends her mother back home bringing a taste of a ‘better life’ at all cost.  The unpacking of gifts unfolds the absurd but practical realities of mixing consumerism along with tradition in a developing nation.

Mathieu Kleyebe Abonnenc – AN ITALIAN FILM (AFRICA ADDIO) (2012, 28 min, digital video)

With metallurgical process as historical excavation, Abonnenc’s video revisits the colonial extraction and plundering of copper from the Congo.

Discussion moderated by cheyanne turions


Deborah Cowen Talk: The Logistics of Life and Death

In this talk, Deborah Cowen draws on her recent book The Deadly Life of Logistics to track the material and calculative life of logistics, from the biopolitics of the battlefield to the corporate boardroom, and back again. She examines a series of key events – from the rise of petroleum warfare, to the birth of the modern supply chain, to the crisis of the ‘Somali pirate’- to highlight the ubiquity of logistics and the profound political, economic and martial transformations that remain hidden in plain sight. Not simply a technocratic field of management, logistics is a highly political technoscience that governs the geopolitics of circulation, recasting state borders and blurring the boundaries of war and trade.

Discussion moderated by Weiqiang Lin





Ursula Biemann Screening & Talk


Forest Law/Selva jurídica by Ursula Biemann and Paulo Tavares

Forest Law is a collaborative project with Brazilian architect Paulo Tavares drawing on research carried out in the oil-and-mining frontier in the Ecuadorian Amazon— one of the most biodiverse and mineral-rich regions on Earth, currently under pressure from the massive expansion of extraction activities. At the heart of Forest Law is a series of landmark legal cases that bring the forest to court and plead for the rights of nature. One of the paradigmatic trials has recently been won by the indigenous people of Sarayuku based on their cosmology of the living forest.

Forest Law/Selva jurídica, 2014. Video installation, 41’. Screening format: one-channel version digital file, 30’. Courtesy of the artists


On the Ecologies of Oil and Water

Based on comprehensive research, the artist elaborates in her video works the far-reaching territorial transformations due to the extraction and engineering of resources, drawing attention to the biological and social micro-dynamics at work in these massive physical encroachments. Engaging with the political ecology of oil and water, the artist interweaves vast cinematic landscapes with documentary footage and academic findings to narrate a changing planetary reality. Discussing her artistic practice in the projects Black Sea Files, Deep Weather and Forest Law, Biemann particularly raises questions regarding the entanglement of aesthetics, ecology and geopolitics.

Discussion moderated by Charles Stankievech


Black Sea Files

Black Sea Files is a territorial research on the Caspian oil geography: the world’s oldest oil extraction zone. A giant new subterranean pipeline traversing the Caucasus will soon pump Caspian Crude to the West. The line connecting the resource fringe with the terminal of the global oil circulation system runs through the video like a central thread. However, the trajectory followed by the narrative is by no means a linear one. Circumventing the main players in the region, the video sheds light on a multitude of secondary sceneries. Oil workers, farmers, refugees and prostitutes who live along the pipeline come into profile and contribute to a wider human geography that displaces the singular and powerful signifying practices of oil corporations and oil politicians. Drawing on investigatory fieldwork as practiced by anthropologists, journalists and secret intelligence agents, the Black Sea Files comment on artistic methods in the field and the ways in which information and visual intelligence is detected, circulated or withheld.

Black Sea Files, 2005, synchronized 2-channel video, screening format: one-channel version 43’. Courtesy of the artists

Q & A

Presenters Biographies

Mathieu Kleyebe Abonnenc is an artist, curator and researcher interested in exploring the history of the colonial encounter and its effects on memory and identity. In his work as an artist he uses video, drawings, installations and photographs, as well as interviews and archives, to counter collective amnesia and erasure of experiences and traumas.

Ursula Biemann  is an artist, writer and video essayist. Her artistic practice is strongly research oriented and involves fieldwork in remote locations where she investigates global warming and the political ecologies of oil and water. The Broad Art Museum Michigan recently awarded her with a commission for a new video work Forest Law (2014), in collaboration with Paulo Tavares on the cosmopolitics of Amazonia. Biemann is part of World of Matter, a collaborative project exposing and interlinking global resource ecologies. Her video installations are exhibited at the International Art Biennials of Istanbul, Liverpool, Sevilla, Shanghai, Gwangiu, Montreal and in museumsworldwide. She published several books, is appointed Doctor honoris causa in Humanities by the Swedish University Umea and received the 2009 Swiss Prix Meret Oppenheim.

CAMP is a collaborative studio whose projects relate to media and its history, formats and distribution. The group’s process often follows the spirit of open-source communities. CAMP is also a co-initiator of, an online digital-media archive. Recent exhibitions in which CAMP has participated include the Kochi-Muziris Biennale, India (2012); Gwangju Biennale, South Korea (2012); Documenta 13, Kassel, Germany, and Kabul, Afghanistan (2012); The Ungovernables, New Museum Triennial, New York, USA (2012); Edgware Road Project, Serpentine Gallery, London, UK (2011– ); Two Stages of Invention, Experimenter, Kolkata, India (2011); The Matter Within, Yerba Buena Center for Contemporary Art, San Francisco, California, USA (2011); Against All Odds, Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi, India (2011); Sharjah Biennial, UAE (2009, 2011); Folkestone Triennial, UK (2011); Liverpool Biennial, UK (2010); Home Works Forum, Beirut, Lebanon (2010); Asia Art Award Exhibition, Seoul, South Korea (2010), The Jerusalem Show, Al-Ma’mal Foundation for Contemporary Art (2009); If We Can’t Get It Together: Artists Rethinking Communities, Power Plant, Toronto, Canada (2009); Taipei Biennial, Taiwan (2008); The Impossible Prison, Nottingham Contemporary, UK (2008); and Indian Highway, Serpentine Gallery, London (2008).

Deborah Cowen is Associate Professor in the Department of Geography at the University of Toronto. Her research explores the role of organized violence in shaping intimacy, space, and citizenship. She is the author of The Deadly Life of Logistics: Mapping Violence in Global Trade (Minnesota 2014) and Military Workfare: The Soldier and Social Citizenship in Canada (UTP 2008), and editor of the Geographies of Justice and Social Transformation book series at UGA Press and of the journal Environment and Planning D: Society and Space.

Weiqiang Lin graduated from Royal Holloway, University of London in 2014 and was awarded a PhD in geography (funded by the UK Commonwealth Scholarship). His supervisors were Tim Cresswell and Peter Adey. His research interests converge around issues of mobilities and infrastructures, air transport, migration and transnationalism in the Asian context. Recently, he has embarked on a one year postdoctoral engagement with the University of Toronto, with sponsorship from the National University of Singapore.

Brenda Longfellow has published articles on documentary, feminist film theory and Canadian cinema in Public, CineTracts, Screen, and the Journal of Canadian Film Studies. She is a co-editor (with Scott MacKenzie and Tom Waugh) of the anthology The Perils of Pedagogy: the Works of John Greyson (2013) and Gendering the Nation: Canadian Women Filmmakers(1992). Her documentaries have been screened and broadcast internationally, winning prestigious awards including the Audience Award for Best Experimental Film for Dead Ducks at the Santa Cruz Film Festival (2011); A Bronze Remi Award for Weather Report at the Houston Film Festival (2008); Best Cultural Documentary for Tina in Mexico at the Havana International Film Festival (2002); a Canadian Genie for Shadowmaker/ Gwendolyn MacEwen, Poet (1998) and the Grand Prix at Oberhausen forOur Marilyn (1988). Other films include Gerda, (1992), A Balkan Journey(1996) and Carpe Diem (2010).

Michelle Murphy is Professor in the History Department and Women and Gender Studies Institute at the University of Toronto, She is a historian of the recent past and feminist technoscience studies scholar who theorizes and researches about the politics of technoscience; sexed, raced, and queer life; environmental  and chemical politics; biopolitics and necropolitics; as well as economics, capitalism and finacialization particularly in contemporary, cold war, and postcolonial conjunctures associated with the United States is a. She is the author of Seizing the Means of Reproduction: Entanglements of Feminism, Health, and Technoscience (Duke University Press, 2012)and Sick Building Syndrome and the Problem of Uncertainty: Environmental Politics, Technoscience, and Women Workers (Duke University Press, 2006).  Her current book project is  The Economization of Life.  She serves as a co-organizer of the Toronto Technoscience Salon and the director of the Technoscience Research Unit.

Shiri Pasternak is a writer and researcher currently based in Toronto and New York City where she holds a SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Middle Eastern, South Asian and African Studies at Columbia University. She holds a PhD from the Department of Geography at the University of Toronto, where she wrote a dissertation on the Algonquins of Barriere Lake’s resistance to the federal land claims process in Canada from the perspective of Indigenous law and jurisdiction. She is a founding member of Barriere Lake Solidarity, a member of the Indigenous Sovereignty and Solidarity Network in Toronto, and an ally in the Defenders of the Land network.

Pleasure Dome Since 1989 Pleasure Dome has been presenting year-round experimental media arts screening programs, and supports expanded forms of presentations, installations and other non-traditional formats

Charles Stankievech is an artist whose research has explored the notion of “fieldwork” in the embedded landscape, the military industrial complex, and the history of technology. His diverse body of work has been shown internationally at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Copenhagen; Palais de Tokyo, Paris; Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin; MASS MoCA, Massachussetts; Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal; Canadian Centre for Architecture, Montreal; and the Venice Architecture and SITE Santa Fe Biennales. His lectures for dOCUMENTA (13) and the 8th Berlin Biennale were as much performance as pedagogy, while his writing has been published in academic journals by MIT and Princeton Architectural Press. His idiosyncratic and obsessively researched curatorial projects include Magnetic Norths and CounterIntelligence—both critically acclaimed as the top Canadian exhibitions of 2010 and 2014 respectively. From 2010 to 2011 (and again from 2014 to 2015) he was hired as a private contractor for the Department of National Defence where he conducted independent research in intelligence operations under the rubric of the Canadian Forces Artists Program (CFAP). He was a founding faculty member of the Yukon School of Visual Arts in Dawson City, Canada and is currently an Assistant Professor in the John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Design at the University of Toronto. Since 2011, he has been co-director of the art and theory press K. in Berlin.

cheyanne turions is an independent, Toronto-based curator and writer who holds a degree in Philosophy from the University of British Columbia. From the farmlands of Treaty 8, she is of settler and Aboriginal ancestry. Most recently she co-curated the series Canadian Ecstasy with poet and performance artist Ariana Reines at Gallery TPW and reviewed the Kuwait Pavilion at the Venice Biennale of Architecture for C Magazine. Her exhibition Other Electricities was presented the inaugural award for Innovation in a Collections-based Exhibition by the Ontario Association of Art Galleries in 2014. She is also the director of No Reading After the Internet(Toronto) and sits on the Board of Directors for Fillip Magazine. She was the Shop Manager/Curator at Art Metropole from 2012-2014 and is now a part of the organization’s Lifetime Membership. Currently she is a member of the co-creative team for the Art and Society theme within the Cities for People project and works as a Curatorial Assistant the Justina M. Barnicke Gallery.

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