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Through colour

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9:30 AM, Saturday 28 May 2022 (20 minutes)

Through twenty-eight encounters, site history is explored differently; colour becomes a lens of site analysis that traces social, economic, and environmental accounts of materials, while challenging the familiarity of linear narratives and the perception of time and space. Traces of colour are stripped from written, verbal, and spiritual histories of industrial ruins. Extracting this spectrum of pigments creates material ambiguity where constructed divisions between what is human versus what is natural, what is contaminated versus what is pure, and what is waste versus what is of value are abolished to enrich our understanding of place. In doing so, this research helps to better understand the role of colour in the alienation of land, animates colour as a primary architectural element and begins a journey towards land reciprocity with damaged industrial landscapes.

The core of this proposal lies in noticing colour. For a year, I catalogued a chromatic spectrum from foraged material in the ruin of Barber Paper Mill in Georgetown, Ontario. Red ochre in clay forms the earth that is carved into buildings. Yellow iron of fieldstones marks divisionary lines of settled territory. Green derived from chlorophyll allows the growth of black spruce delineating the paper industry of Canada. Blue patina of oxidized copper memorializes the development of hydro electricity and changing patterns of urbanism. Each hue is a unique story of entangled relationships between material agency and perception. Each story is a forensic exercise in noticing differently and liberating the ruin from abstracted obsolescence.

Through colour, I reveal entangled connection between the ruin’s physical matter, composition of the built environment, and resulting conditions of the land. These investigations contribute to the study of the perception of space—physical, phenomenological, cultural, and temporal. As encounters operate in the place between each of these individual spaces, focusing on the practice of making with colour explores the architect’s role in preservation and erasure. Colour, as a site of investigation, illuminates how colours exist in space to animate invisible, lost, and erased histories of the land.

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