Inglenook It Is!

Choosing the right space for my documentary media installation was a challenge. Initially, it was clear. It would have be in a classroom that resembled my Alma mater, Villa-Maria (which, because it’s in Montreal was not an option for the Toronto finale). Why would Villa have been the ideal location? Because my media project which is about (in short) the likes and dislikes of high school education according to high school learners and educators, stems from my personal educational struggles as a teen at Villa. Villa, in part, inspired me to investigate this question. It felt logical then that a “Villa-esque” space be reflected in my final thesis project. Besides, the classrooms I learned in were profoundly classical in design. They epitomized the historic layout of top-down learning with rows of wooden desks facing the teacher seated at the front.

My experience at Villa was the impetus for wanting to understand how our educational system works today, how it has evolved over the years, and how it can improve. I should emphasize that Villa itself was not the problem as I likely would have struggled in another public school at the time. Instead, what lacked, was enough opportunity to exercise my natural talents in the arts and be taught subjects in a way that demonstrated their real/contemporary world implication.

Why did anything I was being forced to learn matter? “I’ll never use chemistry in my life” I’d think to myself… along with math, physics…. you get the picture. Quite frankly, these disciplines do come up in an “artsy” persons life… darn it. If only I could have learned math by say, building something! But alas, I digress.

Inglenook Community High School, in Toronto’s south-east end, is now the chosen space and it too makes a lot of sense as the site for the installation. I’ll leave it to my thesis text in progress to explain why:

…although I originally considered recreating a classroom setting in a gallery for the media installation, I quickly determined that it needed to take place in a space that directly relates to, and reflects, the issues that I have worked on. After all, this project is less about “art” and more about the process of sustaining a conversation about (primarily, high school) education through documentary media. Furthermore, the theme of this project concerns the educational environment, the physical space that envelops the learner and educator for years on end. The physical act then, of going “back” to school was therefore intended to stimulate a unique dialogue with the audience that otherwise could not be achieved virtually, nor in any other form of media dissemination. Walking into a high school and taking in the sights, smells and sounds of what so many of us have experienced in our lives [is] a significant part of the project thesis. Subsequently, upon arriving in a classroom that hosts the media where learners and educators can be heard and seen (via mp3 recordings and video projections), [is] intended to strike a core of intrigue and curiosity with the audience about the subject matter.

Inglenook was selected as the site for the installation due to the duality of its persona as both a century-plus old grey- stone building, and as a contemporary alternative high school. The building was constructed as a public school in 1887. Etched in stone above two separate entrances are “girls” and “boys”. For a project whose theme questions the old methods and environments of education, Inglenook’s exterior offered the perfect aesthetic. Upon walking in the building, something drastic appears. The walls are plastered with art: photographs, paintings, hanging sculptures. This is no longer a space of historic norms but rather one that emphasizes creativity. Wired To Learn found a home in Inglenook as the documentary media I have produced critiques and contemplates the values and conditions of education as it has been and its ideological origins.

Sounds like a good reason to me.

You?

 

About cayoup

Colleen Ayoup was born and raised in Montreal, Quebec. She has been engaged in media creation for nearly twenty years. After attending the Dawson Institute of Photography (Montreal), she worked as a commercial photographer for several years until the craving for different creative pursuits gave way. This desire led to two subsequent degrees in Psychology/Film Studies and Film Production (B.A., B.F.A) at Concordia University in Montreal. Her short fiction films and documentary, Kings (2001), about drag-king culture in Montreal toured festivals internationally. In 2004, she joined the National Film Board of Canada where she coordinated Doc Shop, a program designed to give emerging filmmakers an opportunity to learn trade skills from industry professionals and produce a short documentary for broadcast on CBC. She also contributed to the development and creation of CitizenShift (citizenshift.org), the NFB’s first social-media website that she subsequently coordinated for five years. She is a recent graduate of the Master of Fine Arts program in Documentary Media at Ryerson University (Toronto, ON)