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Suburban Smart Home

My Session Status

3:00 PM, Thursday 26 May 2022 (10 minutes)

I discuss a narrative “zine”, Home Smart Home, which I created in 2021 as a commission for UKAI Projects and the Goethe-Institut Toronto as part of the Goethe-Institut’s Algorithmic Culture project. The zine consists of a series of observations sited within my family’s suburban home in Scarborough, Ontario, in a neighbourhood made up primarily of first- and second-generation South Asian and Southeast Asian immigrants. The goal of the commissioning institution was to seek what Neta Bomani calls "a technology to help further educate and organize our friends, family, and community by locating our distribution of selves across intersecting systems of power”, rather than “abstracted debates centered in Western ethics”.

Home Smart Home is an analysis of algorithmic culture through the lens of domestic space and family. The zine pieces together screenshots taken from the house’s Google Nest doorbell, subverting the idea of surveillance within the family home to reveal how racialized families adapt to and appropriate the features of a typical mass-produced suburban house in Canada. The porch becomes a space of leisure, labour, socializing, and (for myself,) observation. Interspersed between these documentary screenshots are poetic, ambient reflections on daily life growing up in the Scarborough district. By applying texts on domestic space and threshold spaces, I hope to view this body of artistic work with an architectural theory framing, and bring to attention the nascent typology of what could be called the “racialized-reclaimed Mattamy neighbourhood”.

Link to zine:

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