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About the Project + VR Instructions

Official Records and Official Voids

Through the lens of architecture, we examine which aspects of Toronto’s Chinatown history have made it into official records and which aspects still remain official voids. We invite you to explore this display of official documents and records pertaining to Chinatown’s architecture from the City of Toronto Archives. Looking through these documents, we can learn about how Chinatown has been defined historically as well as how archival technologies have played an implicit role in what is remembered.

Heritage is as much defined by its voids as its records, and this could not be more apparent than in the legacy of Toronto’s Chinatowns. We know very little about the architecture of the first historic Chinese neighbourhood along York Street south of Wellington Street. At the time, in the 1870s to 1920s, photography had not yet become accessible to the public. Thus, the Toronto Fire Insurance Plans are one of the only remaining documents to officially record the site the Chinese community called home. By the 1940s, 35mm film had become affordable making photography accessible for consumer use for the first time. Meanwhile, the Chinese community had migrated to what is known as ‘Old Chinatown’ along Elizabeth Street where Toronto’s City Hall now stands. While this first official Toronto Chinatown no longer exists, we do find photographs of its stores, gatherings, and festivals in the official records of the City of Toronto Archives. Today, with cameras built into our cell phones, a plethora of images of both Chinatown West and Chinatown East circulate freely on the internet. Looking through these official records, we invite you to reflect upon what has been remembered and what has not.

New Technologies and New Records

New archival technologies are emerging: 3D scanning and 3D printing. Currently, the cost of 3D scanning is still prohibitive to the public as well as community stakeholders. Generally, what gets 3D scanned remains governed, determined and commissioned by institutional organizations. To this end, ChinaTOwn aims to democratize this emerging archival tool by putting 3D scans and 3D prints literally into the hands of the public and community to tell and record their own stories.

Six conceptual installations featured in ChinaTOwn incorporate 3D scanning and 3D printing. Placed in dialogue with official archival materials (and their official voids), they tell the story of Toronto’s four urban Chinatowns and its future heritage.

1. Memory in Suspension responds to the lack of archival records we have of the first Chinese-owned business in Toronto, Sam Ching & Co. Chinese laundry. The installation offers a new associative memory from fragments collected from archival documents and 3D scans.

2. Heritage Unseen explores what sensorial stories exist beyond the archival documents we have available. What immaterial experiences of Chinatown contribute to the neighbourhood’s unique identity? Asking these questions calls into question more traditional sight-based archival practices of text and image.

3. Spirits of Chinatown, reconstructs the ghosts of 346 Spadina Avenue to highlight both the evolution of archival technologies.
From 2D drawings to 3D scanning, we explore what is recorded and what is forgotten in the process of archiving and in official records.

4. A Vacant Chinatown East places a focus on the important cultural heritage of Chinatown’s vernacular architecture, namely its urban street furniture and street life.

5. Build Your Own Chinatown Boardgame uses 3D scanning and 3D printing to build a community-based installation that explores a future and collective vision for Toronto’s future Chinatown(s).

6. Chinatown 2050: an interactive workshop that collectively reimagined and articulated possible future(s) for communities as a result of COVID-19 through 3D scanning, virtual reality and speculative fiction stories written by community authors.

Presented by: Linda Zhang, Ryerson University School of Interior Design
Presenting Partner: Myseum of Toronto
Project Partners: Tea Base, Cecil Community Centre
Project team: Amy Yan, Georgia Barrington, Janak Alford, Jimmy Tran, Megan Barrientos, Jenna Buchwitz, Conan Chan, Katherine Fazari, Jasmenica Filice, Joanne John, Duyen Nguyen, Tammy Ou, Sally Park, Victoria Ruccella, Nicole Tetelbaun, Maria Tevyants, Robert Tin, Min Xie, Sandy Zhao, Maxim-Gertler Jaffe, Reese-Joan Young, Margarita Yushina, and Meimei Yang
Symposium Participants: Erica Allen-Kim, Howard Tam, Shellie Zhang and Chiyi Tam of Friends of Chinatown Toronto, and Biko Mandela Gray




空白对遗产的定义与记录对其所定义的一样多,这一点在多伦多唐人街的遗迹最为明显。我们对惠灵顿街以南的约克街上第一个历史悠久的华人街区的建筑了解甚少。当时正值19世纪70年代至20世纪20年代,公众尚未接触过摄影。因此,Toronto Fire Insurance Plans是正式记录华人社区称为“家”的地点的仅剩文件之一。到20世纪40年代,35mm 胶卷已经变得便宜,这使得摄影首次可以为消费者使用。同时,华人社区已迁至如今多伦多市政厅所在地的伊丽莎白街上的‘老唐人街’。尽管这第一个官方的多伦多唐人街已不复存在,但我们确实在多伦多档案馆的官方记录中找到了其往日商店、聚会和节日的照片。如今,随着我们手机中内置摄像头的出现,唐人街西区和唐人街东区的大量图片在互联网上自由传播。查看这些官方记录,我们邀请您对已铭记和未铭记的内容进行反思。

新技术 和新记录

新的存档技术正在出现:3D扫描和3D打印。当前,3D扫描的成本之高对于公众以及社区利益相关者来说仍然无法承受。通常,进行 3D扫描的内容仍由机构组织控制、确定和委托。为此,唐人街项目旨在通过让公众和社区真正运用3D扫描和3D打印来讲述和记录自己的故事,以使这种新兴的存档工具平民化。


1. 暂停记忆 是对我们在多伦多的第一家中资企业Sam Ching & Co.华人洗衣店档案记录缺失的回应。该装置将通过从档案文件和3D 扫描中收集的碎片提供新的关联记忆。

2. 看不见的遗产探讨除了我们现有的档案文件以外还存在哪些鲜活的故事。唐人街有哪些非物质经历确立了街区的独特身份?提出这 些问题将对更为传统的基于视觉的文本和图像存档方式提出质疑。

3. 唐人街的精神 重现了司帕蒂娜大街346号的传说,突出了档案技术的发展。从2D图纸到3D扫描,我们将探索在归档过程中以及在 官方记录中被记录和被遗忘的内容。

4. 空置的唐人街东区 着重介绍唐人街民俗建筑的重要文化遗产,即其城市街道设施和街头生活。

5. 建造自己 的唐人街使用3D扫描和3D打印来构建基于社区的装置,以探索多伦多未来唐人街的前景和集体愿景。

6.2050年的唐人街: 一次在新型冠状病毒背景下的集体重新构想和阐明社区可能的未来的互动式工作坊。

承办:Ryerson University室内设计学院Linda Zhang
承办合作单位:Myseum of Toronto
项目合作单位:Tea Base, Cecil Community Centre
项目团队:Amy Yan、Georgia Barrington、Jimmy Tran、Janak Alford、 Megan Barrientos、Jenna Buchwitz、Conan Chan、Katherine Fazari、Jasmenica Filice、Joanne John、Duyen Nguyen、Tammy Ou、Sally Park、Victoria Ruccella、Nicole Tetelbaun、Maria Tevyants、Robert Tin、Min Xie, Sandy Zhao, Maxim-Gertler Jaffe, Reese-Joan Young, Margarita Yushina, 及 Meimei Yang
研讨会参与者:Erica Allen-Kim、Biko Mandela Gray 、 Howard Tam及Friends of Chinatown Toronto的Shellie Zhang和Chiyi Tam。

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