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FESTIVALS / MYSEUM INTERSECTIONS 2021 / Spirits of Chinatown

MYSEUM INTERSECTIONS 2021

Spirits of Chinatown

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.

唐人街的精神重现了Spadina Avenue 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的内容和被遗忘的内容


One thing is certain about Toronto’s Chinatown: it’s always changing. Spirits of Chinatown tells this story through the evolution of a single building site, 346 Spadina Avenue, highlighting the intersections between the Chinese community in Toronto and the diverse communities and inhabitants of our shared land. Once a bustling center for the Chinese community, 346 Spadina Avenue was the former site of the Hsin Kuang Centre/ Bright Pearl Restaurant. Today, it has been stripped of its Chinese elements and replaced by gentrification with the futuristic sight of a modern cube sitting vacant since its reopening in 2018. Yet, long before it was a part of Chinatown it was the Jewish Labour Lyceum, established in 1913, in a building which can be traced back as early as 1890 according to the City of Toronto Fire Insurance Plans. It wasn’t until 1971 that the building was sold and the Labour Lyceum moved to 33 Cecil Street. Yet, even further back these lands were settled as in the name York, the capital of Upper Canada in 1793 and even prior yet these lands were the home of the Wyandot people followed by the Iroquois as early as 1000 AD.

Grappling with these multiple and diverse pasts, Spirits of Chinatown explores an alternative heritage that puts these pasts in dialogue. While seemingly intuitive, this is in fact counter to architectural preservation and restoration practices today where a specific time and past is selected as the most “authentic” history over other narratives and times. In contrast, Spirits of Chinatown proposes a palimpsest of intersections between all of its past ‘spirits’ putting the Chinese history of the site in dialogue with its Jewish and Indigenous pasts. The materiality of each ‘spirits’ corresponds to heritage preservation technologies available at the time: before 3D scanning was invented, sites of heritage were captured through architectural line drawings. Thus, the ‘spirit’ of the Jewish Labour Lyceum was only recorded as a building outline in the 1890 fire insurance plan and is constructed out of black outlines. The ‘spirit’ of Hsin Kuang Centre/ Bright Pearl Restaurant is reconstructed as a wireframe made of many thin gray lines recalling the architectural line drawings that archive its history. The ‘spirit’ of 346 Spadina Avenue today is shown as a white large-scale 3D scan of the current building. Finally, the ‘spirit’ of the indigenous history of the site is constructed through absence, as no records remain to record the spatial history of the site prior to its settler past. Each of these spirits intersect and collide with one another forming a constellation which tells the histories and transformations of a single building site and its ever-changing inhabitants over time.

Project Team

Tammy Ou (she/her) is a graduate of the Ryerson School of Interior Design. Tammy has always been passionate about visual art, design and architecture. She has a background in classical piano as well, and has worked to develop all these passions together.

Sandy Zhao (she/her) is a graduate of the Ryerson School of Interior Design. With her interest in exploring galleries of art and design and the limitless freedom of creativity she has decided to pursue her studies in interior design.
IG: @_sandyzhao_

Jasmenica Filice (she/her) is a graduate of the Ryerson School of Interior Design. With an intuitive eye for perspective, her background in design is not limited to interiors and extends further into establishing creative ideas.
IG: @jasfilice

Nicole Tetelbaun (she/her) is a graduate of the Ryerson School of Interior Design. Her skills and creativity go beyond the idea of minimalistic interior spaces to modifying outside the norms. As long as she can remember, Nicole has been inspired to articulate a unity between humans, nature and architecture.
IG: @_nicoleerindesigns

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


唐人街的精神


多伦多唐人街有一点是肯定的:它总是在变化。唐人街的精神通过一个建筑工地司帕蒂娜大街346号的演变来讲述这个故事,突出了多伦多华人社区与共享一片热土的不同社区和居民之间的交汇。Spadina Avenue 346号曾经是华人社区的繁华中心,其前身是新光中心/明珠酒楼。如今,它的中国元素早已消失,而自2018年重新开放以来,空置的现代立方体所体现的未来主义景象标志着它已被中产阶级化所取代。然而,早在成为唐人街的一部分之前,它还是1913年成立的犹太Labour Lyceum的所在地。根据City of Toronto Fire Insurance Plans,该建筑物最早可以追溯到1890年。直到1971年,这座建筑才被出售,Labour Lyceum搬到了塞西尔街33号。然而,在更早的年代,这些土地在1793年被定居于此的人命名为约克,是上加拿大的首都,甚至在此之前,早在公元1000年,这些土地就是Wyandot人的家园,接着是Iroquois人。

带着这些丰富多样的过往,唐人街的精神探索了另类遗产,让我们与这些历史对话。虽然看似直观,但实际上它与当今的建筑保护和修复方式相反。在该装置中,将特定的时间和过去选为最“真实”的历史,而非其他叙述和时代。相比之下,唐人街的精神提出了一种重写本,让其所有过往‘精神’交汇,使该遗址的中国历史与犹太人和土著人民的历史对话。每种‘精神’的实质与当时可用的遗产保护技术相对应:在发明3D扫描之前,遗产地点是通过建筑线条图来捕捉的。因此,犹太Labour Lyceum的‘精神’在1890年的火灾保险计划中仅被记录为建筑轮廓,并且是由黑色轮廓构成的。新光中心/明珠酒楼的‘精神’被改造成由许多细灰线组成的线框,让人联想起保存其历史的建筑线条图。今天的司帕蒂娜大街346号的‘精神’显示为当前建筑物的白色大型3D扫描图。最后,由于没有记录可以铭刻该遗址在土著定居者之前的空间历史,因此该遗址的土著历史‘精神’是通过缺失而构建的。每一种精神都有了交互并相互碰撞,星光荟萃,讲述了一个建筑及其不断变化的居民的历史和变迁。

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