4th SPACE is as flexible and adjustable as a bento box

A multidisciplinary addition to Concordia’s downtown campus

Concordia University’s 4th SPACE will be carrying out programs encompassing a variety of topics from avant-garde video games to open discussions about Indigenous cultures integrated in artificial intelligence during the upcoming months.

The explorative platform begins with a collaborative process between the school faculty and Concordia’s student associations, but it extends to more than a museum for school projects. After one month of its official launch in January, 4th SPACE revealed its interactive workshops to all passersby. The studio also features space for screenings and prototype installations presented by the university’s faculty members and students. Furthermore, its schedule offers roundtable events, an opportunity to spark conversation between guest panelists and the audience, that usually takes place in the center of the facility.

“Our collaborators, who will be researchers and students, take up residency in the SPACE, then they will transform the venue using specialized furniture,” said Knowledge Broker Prem Sooriyakumar. Designed to be as flexible and adjustable as a bento box, the venue can shift from a traditional science lab to a stage for visual art performances. “The way we’ve conceptualized the 4th SPACE is meant to be an agile space, meaning it can transform itself to the topic we are exploring for that set period,” Sooriyakumar continued.

Coinciding with the 50th anniversary of Sir George Williams Affair and Black History Month, the integrative studio has just hosted a commemoration of the Affair, Protests and Pedagogy.

On Jan. 31, the second evening of Protests and Pedagogy, Dorothy Williams’s workshop aimed to educate participants a card game she created. Williams is a historian and author of the only book that studied the history of black Canadians from New France era to 20th century Montreal, The Road to Now: A History of Blacks in Montreal. Her game, The ABCs of Canadian Black History, is a familiar combination between the classic bingo and childhood trading card game Yu-Gi-Oh. Instead of anime monsters, these cards feature prominent black Canadian figures and organizations such as successful entrepreneur Wilson Ruffin Abbott and the Victoria Pioneer Rifles.

Following Protests and Pedagogy, the 4th SPACE will be hosting Landscapes of Hope on Feb. 19 and 20. Photo by Mackenzie Lad.

Curated by Concordia’s Art Education professor, Vivek Venkatesh, and Communication Studies professor, Owen Chapman, Landscape of Hope is a two-day program in which the first part will be a workshop held at the 4th SPACE on Feb. 19. The workshop gives Concordia undergraduates and CEGEP students a space where they can voice their thoughts on racism and cyberbullying. The program will proceed with a visual and musical art performance led by the undergraduates and graduates of the university’s Communications Studies, Art Education, Music Therapy and Education departments on Feb. 20 starting at 5 p.m.

Affiliated with Concordia’s SOcial Media EducatiON Every day (SOMEONE) project and international touring festival Grimposium, Landscape of Hope aims to teach workshop participants and viewers digital resilience in relation to online hate speech.

Since 2016, Professor Venkatesh and the SOMEONE research team have garnered worldwide attention by sharing elementary to post-secondary students’s narrative on cyber racism through music, theatre and other art mediums. Their project, Landscape of Hope, demonstrated success at their official premiere in Norway last year.

On March 4, 4th SPACE will be housing Arcade 11 in collaboration with Technoculture, Art and Games Research Centre (TAG) and the Montreal Public Libraries Network. The arcade will feature experimental video games and “each game would have some kind of research component whether it was the technology involved, the experience or type of play,” said 4th SPACE coordinator, Douglas Moffat. Visitors will also have the opportunity to discuss these topics with the indie video game developers.

This event welcomes people of all ages; parents can mark this event in their to-do list of fun March break activities with their children. From retro arcade machines to a VR gaming experience, Arcade 11 is also the perfect opportunity for Concordia students to play and unwind after a study session for finals.

Taking place from March 18 to April 12, the studio’s planning team will carry out an exhibition centered around artificial intelligence. 4th SPACE will provide a platform for its visitors to reflect on the concept of Indigenous practices within AI. There will also be room for discussion about the hopes and fears of the innovative technology that is frighteningly powerful and limitless.

Since the studio’s opening, many Montreal residents and university students have come to see the new topic  4th SPACE was exploring. Successfully mirroring Concordia’s dynamic and inclusive climate, what was once a dark and forgotten corner at the downtown campus has regained a pulse.

Protest and Pedagogies was held at the space’s last event, a presentation surfacing the traumas and silences of 1969’s Sir George Williams Affair and the reparative work involved post-affair on Monday, Feb. 11. For more information, visit 4th SPACE’s schedule of activities & events.

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