Friday, 21 October 2011

The Three Tongues in the Broken City

We'll be speaking about the Three Tongues knowledge exchange project today in Windsor! Broken City Lab invited us to talk about the project for their Homework conference, which will share perspectives on infrastructures and collaboration in social practices. You can find out more about the conference and its concurrent residency here: And if you don't happen to find yourself in Windsor today, you can catch the whole thing on Livestream.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Back to Free: The Public School

It's back to school time, already, so quickly. And this means it's also time for "Back to Free", an ongoing series of regular posts that offer introductory profiles of free schools, courses and other education opportunities. Since the first chilly days of September always remind me of heading back to public school fresh and ready for the potential that the year ahead holds, I've decided to officially begin the Back to Free series with The Public School, as a nod to the exciting possibilities for learning that these posts will share.

The Public School is comprised of several internationally based schools with educational programming driven by dynamic participation and public interest rather than a set curriculum. The project was initiated in 2007 by Sean Dockray, director of the Telic Arts Exchange in Los Angeles. School locations are not necessarily fixed, sometimes shifting between semi-permanent spaces and itinerant locations - such as the school in New York, which this month moves into an exciting new multidisciplinary contemporary arts space at 155 Freeman Street in Brooklyn, shared along with Triple Canopy and Light Industry

So what do they teach? Well, what would you like to learn? The way the school programming works is that someone proposes a class they would like to attend or even teach, and, if it successfully makes it through moderation, gets posted on the host Public School's fantastic website, where the process of confirming enrolment, scheduling the class and commenting on classes pretty visibly plays out. Upon posting a proposed class, members of the public then indicate that they, too, are interested in participating in the class. If a class gets enough interest, the school finds a teacher, a location, confirms the class's scheduled date and boom! You're going to school and learning what you want.

Classes are often free (though not always) and range from one-time discussion-based seminars on Art Criticism to hands-on super technical workshops held over several weeks. From what I've seen, the range of classes, while intellectually and creatively stimulating, can skew to the academic end of the public interest spectrum, but there are more practical, casual and downright playful classes available too. (See the vaguely amusing proposal for a lesson in civil disobedience here.) One workshop coming up that looks pretty great gives an introduction to urban field recording. Happening in New York a few weeks from now, the course includes well-qualified instructors, equipment, plus the sounds recorded will be showcased as part of the Ear to Earth Festival. And it's free!

Happy back to school, everyone! And here's to a happy Back to Free, too. 

If there is a free school you would like to see profiled, please email us: threetongues [at] gmail [dot] com.

Monday, 5 September 2011

Ellen Dykes to teach Contra Dancing

Stacey and I know some truly lovely folks, and Ellen Dykes is one of the loveliest. When I first met Ellen at a brief gig working for a theatre, I knew that smiles as bright and kind as hers were rare, and decided that I had to get to know this pleasant new girl. Genuinely kindhearted, her friendliness is matched by sharp intelligence and a ridiculously intoxicating sense of fun. This is definitely *the* girl to go dancing with. An accomplished graphic designer and recent graduate of the visual communication design program at South Carolina's Winthrop University, Ellen has lived in Toronto for almost a year and we hope she will soon make Canada her permanent home! 

Prior to our Decision Making skill swap at the White House this Thursday, she responds to some of our questions about how she makes decisions here:

TT - Do you consider yourself a good decision maker? 
ED - I would say no, unfortunately I am a terrible decision-maker. I like to consider possibilities from all angles, get lots of advice, and I tend to agonize over decisions big and small, from "what should I do with my life" to "what should I eat for lunch?"

TT - What decision making strategies do you use? 
ED - I am a big fan of pro-and-con lists, so I can get the list of possible outcomes out of my head and onto paper and see everything visually. I also seek advice from lots of different people, which helps me see things from other perspectives.

TT - What is the hardest decision you've ever made? 
ED - Right now I am a typical 20-something struggling with what to with the next chapter of my life...

TT - What's your favourite tool of the undecided: Rock paper scissors, Eenie Meenie Minie Moe, or a coin toss? 
ED - Eenie Meenie Minie Moe is always fun!

TT - And finally - Heads or tails? 
ED - Tails!

Thanks Ellen, we are looking forward to contra dancing with you on Thursday!

Friday, 2 September 2011

Maria Golikova to Teach Pendulum Dowsing

Maria is a genuine lovely person with an incredible healing sensibility. She is also a skilled writer and has recently completed a degree in English and Professional writing at York. She will be teaching Pendulum Dowsing at the Three Tongues event on the 8th of September at the White House and we are so excited!
We micro interviewed her as an introduction:

Three Tongues- Do you consider yourself a good decision maker?
Maria Golikova- Yes, when it comes to big decisions; no when it comes to small, everyday things.

TT-  What decision making strategies do you use?
MG- I try to use my intuition when I am really unsure of something, so I go with my initial inclination. I also assure myself that whatever decision I make will end up being the right one for me at that particular time.

TT- What is the hardest decision you've ever made?
MG- Leavin' my last job! I found out from a Native American shaman though that a hawk helped me make that decision. Thanks pal!

TT- What's your favourite tool of the undecided?
MG- Definitely a coin toss. And I'd say tails.

See you on the 8th!

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Maggie Flynn Interview

Curator, Artist, and Knowledge seeker Maggie Flynn visited me in my studio this week to talk about Three Tongues related things: collectives, collaboration, and books. She is involved with a lot of community/knowledge sharing organizations including Working Women Community Centres, Creative Works Studio, and she has been involved with Centro de Intercambio y Solidaridad (San Salvador, El Salvador), Winters Community Art Club, and the Anarchist Free University. She also has a vested interest in dance so maybe you can cut a rug with her sometime.
The following is an interview/conversation with her.
- Stacey Sproule

Stacey Sproule- You are involved with a number of collectives, can you talk about one- your favourite one?

Maggie Flynn- I'll start by talking about Border Town. That's very much where my mind is right now. I don't know if we are technically a collective. We are a bunch of people that meet once a week and we talk about borders, border towns, towns that are cut in half by borders and all the crazy things that happen around those instances. We are people from different backgrounds who will meet for eleven weeks and at the end of that time we will each produce a project that comes out of our time and learning together. So that's been a really amazing project. Its brought together by Tim Maly and Emily Horne and they have pulled together a really good group of people with really different backgrounds, from architecture, design, writing, and visual art. It started out as something that was very much lead by Tim and Emily but now they have found a lot of foreign correspondents for us to be in contact with. So those people are sending us reports about where they are and what things are happening around the border. One person is in Palestine, we are also in contact with people from Detroit, there is someone in China and one person who travels all over. And this week our readings were things that the foreign correspondents had written about the places where they are. Its a really exciting way to be learning about these things. I think of it kind of as a free school scenario though its a bit more structured. But its a really interesting model. I've never done anything like this before: independent learning with the goal of creating something at the end.

SS- It seems like you have access to a lot of people you wouldn't normally have access to in any other circumstance.

MF- YES! Oh fuck, do we ever! I mean other than ourselves which is amazing. We took a field trip to Niagara Falls, and the guy from the bridge transit authority stayed late after work to show us around. He showed us all around the office and all of the security things they deal with and told us stories about stuff that goes on with the bridge. He gave us pretty detailed information about how the bridge transit authority interacts with the border authority. Its been pretty exciting to have people tell us things we felt like we shouldn't know!

SS- I wanted to talk about your art a little bit. There were two pieces that I saw on your website that I felt related to Three Tongues kind of ideas, which were the caged books and the key cutting project. Can you talk about the caged books?

MF- That was called Academic Trade. At the time I was really frustrated with being in University, since then I have come to realise that its probably alright that Universities exist and they have their place in the world. But I was really frustrated with academia and the way knowledge was guarded. I thought it would be funny if to access the knowledge in a book you had to go through another learning process which is how to use a hacksaw to saw metal. So it puts two different ways of interacting with things together and you need to use one to get to the other. I welded these cages with steel rods around individual books the cages were tight around the books so you definitely couldn't open the book unless you sawed open the cage. I had a space at the University of Toronto with a big work table and 25 or so books in cages and a couple of hacksaws and a sign that read- Free Books Crack One Open! There were a lot of students that came who had never interacted with a hacksaw before so there was a learning process to watch. And sometimes people would give each other tips on sawing. Its not that hard- it takes a bit of time and energy to cut through six or eight metal rods, but if you don't know how to hacksaw you might press too hard and waste a lot of energy or one girl was holding a book between her knees and trying to saw it that way- so painful to watch! But I think people were really excited to interact with this material in a stodgy university setting.

SS- What about your piece- Key Cuttin' Shit Shootin'?

MF- It was in a group show with a lot of people and I had a worktable, a light, and a box of blank keys in the middle of the room. The invitation was open to people who came to the show to talk to me while I cut them a key they could keep. I filed the keys with metal files as  we had a conversation. And the conversation would continue until they thought their key was finished. I had some really memorable conversations that night. It was in a really busy space but I felt really focused on the person sitting in front of me. I felt that when I was cutting each key it would be a record of that conversation with that person. I was thinking about early sound recording technologies like records, or wax cylinders.  And using keys for me was very fitting because my dad is a locksmith and it was absolutely inspired by him and the conversations he has with his customers. I'm interested in those environments where people just converse- where there's a comfort to conversing and its interesting to think about what makes people just want to sit and chat.

SS- I love that project! So wonderful and simple but really effective. Ok, so let's talk about the other collective you work with- Tongue and Groove.
Who's in Tongue and Groove?

MF- Simon Black, Meghan Scott, Kailey Bryan, Jeanette Hicks, Tasha Turner, Robert Clements, Brian Hobbs, and Me! We've done a few projects now together- everyone in the collective comes from a really strong sculpture and installation background. The last project we did was called Fix em Up Free Market.  So we had the storefront at Whippersnapper Gallery in Kensington and we invited people to bring things they didn't want or broken things and we would fix those things or take parts from them and offer them for free for anyone to take or trade. It was a high traffic area at Dundas and Augusta and as soon as we opened we had a bunch of people who would come by regularly to see what was new. We also had people offer their time to help us fix things- some just wanted to help because they loved the project and some people helped because they wanted to take something. But we did emphasize  that it was a free store and you could just take things. At a certain point too we had so much stuff that we needed people to take it!

SS- All the pieces of yours we've talked about today have shades of collaboration in them, and you seem to work in that way a lot. Why, would you say, you collaborate?

MF-Collaborations sometimes happen for logistical reason but I guess the reason I am drawn to collaborating is the outcome. Doing things alone is fine and you can push yourself and take outside influences or try to do new things with your own scope of reasoning but when you work with somebody else then you immediately have a space between you where you have to negotiate things  and communicate in some way with them. So its simple things but through that I feel I am so much more challenged and I think that I am generally more excited about the results when I've worked with somebody because its something that has come from outside of me - its something new. You arrive at things you would never get to if you were just working alone.

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Three Tongues at the White House New Date

Due to a scheduling conflict we had to postpone our August 11th skill swap at the White House Guess What?!? Lecture Series to Thursday September 8th at 7pm.
Stay tuned for more details on the skills and teachers for that day.

Monday, 1 August 2011

Three Tongues Trial Run at Trinity Bellwoods

 On Thursday July 28, we gathered at Trinity Bellwoods for a trial run of the first Three Tongues knowledge exchange. The skills taught all make use of the tongue. 
 Alex Samaras taught us a skill of Chance: Throat Singing.
Using cherries and beginning with an explanation of how babies use their tongues to eat, Jenna Robertson taught us a skill of Beauty: Mindful Eating.
 Stacey Sproule taught us a skill of Truth: How to Make Sun Tea, using tea leaves, rose hips, lavender and chamomile. 
After learning the first skill from the teachers, participants went out and exchanged their new knowledge with one another.
Each participant earned a different coloured stripe for each skill learned. Stacey got all three!

Thanks to everyone who came out for the first Three Tongues knowledge exchange, and to Alex, Jenna and Stacey for passing along these lovely skills. 

Special thanks to Alex and Rob for concluding the evening by serenading us with a wonderful performance of a Meredith Monk song!