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.
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。
Much has changed since the City of Toronto first designated Chinatown West an “Area of Special Identity” in 1980. Forty years later, Heritage Unseen questions: can (and should) Chinatown’s heritage still be defined as “illuminated signs, street furniture and architectural detail”? The journey through the installation begins from the exterior, whose shape reflects the boundaries of Chinatown West as defined by the Chinatown Business Improvement Area. These artificial boundary walls are clad with crowd sourced imagery—all collected under the hashtag #torontochinatown—displaying the collective visual interpretation of Chinatown’s heritage. These images are strikingly reflective of the elements of heritage encouraged and protected by Toronto’s 1980 by-law and illustrate how city planning influences and shapes public consciousness.
In contrast, in the interior, we find the immaterial heritage of Chinatown—the personal experiences that are not accounted for in the City’s by-law. The interior walls feature quotes from archival documents recounting the narratives of Chinatown’s residents. The user then encounters a space dedicated to the often-untold struggles experienced by the community and local businesses, bringing to light the impact of global events such as the coronavirus and the 2003 SARS outbreak on the Chinatown community. Next, the user enters an isolated space deprived of sight, and instead, dedicated to sound, allowing them to fully immerse themselves within the sounds of Chinatown. Enveloped entirely within this sensorial experience through these diverse modes of seeing, Heritage Unseen challenges the sights of Chinatown we all know and love and hopes to recover elements of the unseen. The interior space illustrates how different modes of seeing can tell different types of stories; what is unseen through sound, can be seen through imagery, and what is unseen in imagery, can be seen through text. Within this immersive experience, Heritage Unseen asks of you to consider how even the format of seeing and the medium of recollection necessarily informs the future heritage of Toronto’s Chinatowns.
Heritage Unseen Website: https://heritageunseen.webflow.io/
Maria Tevyants (she/her) is a graduate of the Ryerson School of Interior Design. Her interests lie in more than just interior design – she is also passionate about architecture, graphic design, and photography, and believes that these disciplines work together often. Maria received the RHSA Media Arts Award in 2016 for showing promise in the preceding subjects.
Joanne John (she/her)is a graduate of the Ryerson School of Interior Design. Her passion in the fields of interior and graphic design have largely influenced the way she thinks and sees the world. Her work ethos is founded on designing spaces inspired by people, their interactions and creating a community culture.
Katherine Fazari (she/her) is a graduate of the Ryerson School of Interior Design. Her interests in the design field include interior design, furniture design, art, and architecture. She takes inspiration from observing the environment she surrounds that helped create inspiration for past and present projects.
Victoria Ruccella (she/her) is a graduate of the Ryerson School of Interior Design. Her passion for design stems from an interest in creating unique spaces that blend both aesthetics and function, while further exploring the creation of designs in graphics and material art.
Linda Zhang (she/her) is an artist, a licensed architect, certified advanced operations drone pilot and educator. She is a principal at Studio Pararaum and an assistant professor at Ryerson SID. Her research areas include memory, cultural heritage, and identity as they are indexically embodied through emergent technologies, matter, and material processes.
IG: @lindayzhang @pararaum