Next North: InfraNet Lab/Lateral Office exhibition at Cambridge Galleries

The myth of the Canadian North is tied to its unique geography – a territory vast, sparsely populated, fragile and sublime. Yet, with an estimated quarter of the world’s undiscovered energy resources and one of the most dramatically changing climatological conditions, the Arctic has become a site of significant economic and development speculation. The sensitivity of this context, and the urgency with which it must be addressed cannot be overstated. However, there is little evidence of a holistic vision of development in the North beyond economic efficiency and expediency. How to document this complex region, and envision futures that reconcile development with traditional living patterns and fragile ecosystems will be amongst the key questions of the 21st century. The Next North exhibition proposes an alternate vision for the North, one in which architecture maintains a unique synergy with place, geography and culture.

Taking place from January 20 to February 27, 2011 at Cambridge Galleries Design at Riverside, Next North merges documentation and projection. In a territory where reality is often stranger than fiction the exhibition introduces viewers to the remarkable transformations taking place in the North. The exhibition centrepiece is an immersive landscape installation consisting of 20,000 dowels. This topography hosts architectural models that engage this shifting landscape which oscillates between land and water, freeze and thaw. Maps, interactive timelines, and photographs, as well as drawings and larger tectonic investigations engage viewers in new visions of the Canadian North.

InfraNet Lab is a research collective founded (2008) by Mason White, Lola Sheppard, Neeraj Bhatia and Maya Przybylski. InfraNet is conducting groundbreaking research at the intersection of architecture, environment, and digital culture. Together with Lateral Office they have authored the prestigious publication Pamphlet Architecture #30, published by Princeton Architectural Press, 2011.

Lateral Office, established in 2003 by Mason White and Lola Sheppard, is an experimental design practice which whose work exists at the intersection of architecture, landscape and urbanism. They were awarded the 2010 Prix de Rome for their research project entitled Emergent North and were awarded the Emerging Voices Award from the Architectural League of New York in 2011.

The exhibition also features the work of Finn O’Hara and Greg Hemmings.

Finn O’Hara is a professional photographer who has extensively documented the landscapes of the North, and was commissioned in 2007 by The Walrus magazine to document teens growing up in Cambridge Bay, Nunavut. His work has also been featured in Esquire, Forbes, The Guardian Weekend Magazine, Wallpaper, and Wired.

Greg Hemmings’ award-winning production experience has taken him all over the globe, directing and producing work in Asia, Europe, the Caribbean, the Arctic and all of the Americas. He is is the CEO and founder of Hemmings House Pictures, and is a member of the Wallace McCain Institute. Having attended the prestigious National Screen Institute, Hemmings recently won three awards at the Banff International Television Festival.

The opening reception for Next North takes place on Tuesday, January, 25 at 6:30pm, with remarks to follow at 7:00pm. The artists will be in attendance. Admission to the exhibition is free, and everyone is welcome.

On Tuesday, February, 15 at 6:30 pm, a lecture accompanying the exhibition will be presented by Lola Sheppard and Maya Przybylski in the main lecture theatre at the University of Waterloo School of Architecture, located at 7 Melville Street South in Cambridge, Ontario. Admission is free to this event also.

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