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ACTIVITY KIT

TERMS OF USE
Activities for all ages.

Illustration: Marie-Fei Deguire

The PHI Foundation for Contemporary Art presents the group exhibition Terms of Use from March 9 to July 9, 2023.

Activity Kit presented by the PHI Foundation’s Education Team

Educators:
Kim Johnson
Zoe Compton
Prakash Krishnan
Marilou Lyonnais Archambault

Head of Education:
Marie-Hélène Lemaire

Hello! It is our pleasure to offer you the Terms of Use Activity Kit.

This activity kit is addressed to children and youth as well as the adults who share their lives.

The kit accompanies the exhibition presented at the PHI Foundation from March 9 to July 9, 2023. The exhibition, titled Terms of Use, showcases artworks by 14 contemporary* artists and collectives hailing from Montréal and beyond. 

This exhibition brings together works that explore the impact of technologies, as we grapple with living simultaneously online and offline. Terms of Use deals with our complex interactions with technologies: as opportunities to connect and to imagine other spaces, and the constant pressure to perform within and for these spaces.

Lexicon

*What does contemporary art mean? The word “contemporary” means “now” or “of the present day.” Contemporary art is art created by artists who are alive now or who lived in the recent past.

Themes

An “identity” refers to a unique set of qualities that are used to describe a person or group as different from others. On a personal level, identity refers to the distinguishing character or personality of an individual. A group of people can have a collective identity, which is often reflected when they have a shared lived experience. For instance, we live in Canada, which is part of our collective identity.

A “glitch” is a word used to describe a mechanical or digital malfunction. When things don’t work as expected, it can be seen as either a problem to be solved or as a possibility to explore. By leaning into the mystery of the glitch, we can learn more about ourselves (who we are, what we are like) and of the world at large. Throughout history, different kinds of glitches have given us so much, including medications, cuisines, art, and even fireworks.

We use the term “materiality” when we want to describe something we can touch, like a table or clothes, for example. Immateriality, on the other hand, is a term used for that which is imagined, existing only in our thoughts. Our imagination can be stimulated by the melody of a song, or by the images of a dream.

Activity 1

Make a time capsule

Nicowilliams specialdelivery
Nico Williams, Special Delivery, 2023. Perles de verre. Photo: Richard-Max Tremblay

Theme: Identity

A time capsule contains a collection of objects in a box that is often buried or hidden somewhere. This box is meant to communicate to the people of the future what the world was like today.

Technology is not only electronic devices, but also a way of doing things, a tool, a human invention. For example, one of the first technologies to be invented was a vessel for carrying water.

Think about how technologies influence your personal and collective identity.

For instance, your favourite book reveals something about your personal identity. However, a cell phone is more reflective of the collective technology of our time, as it represents a common experience.

With your classmates, create a time capsule by including technologies that represent life in Québec in 2023 for the people of the future.

Materials: A box, a sheet of paper, a pencil, tape, materials to decorate the box, and objects of your choice.

Step 1: First, choose who you want your capsule to be for and when you want it to be found.

Step 2: Find a container for the items and decorate it. You can choose an envelope or a used delivery box from a store, since they also represent a technology of our time.

Step 3: Write a letter to the recipients explaining your choices.

Step 4: Put the letter and all the items you have chosen into the box. Don’t put anything perishable in your capsule, as this could cause your other items to spoil.

Step 5: Seal your capsule and store it somewhere in your home.

Activity 2

Draw an exquisite cyborg

Darabirnbaum wonderwoman
Dara Birnbaum, Technology/Transformation: Wonder Woman, 1978–1979. Production still. Courtesy of Electronic Arts Intermix (EAI), New York

Theme: Glitch

Materials: a large sheet of paper and felt-tip pens.

The exquisite cyborg combines two ideas: first, the exquisite corpse, which is a collective drawing game invented by surrealist artists who were interested in the power of dreams and imagination, and second, the cyborg, a science fiction character who is both a human figure and a machine: mechanical or electronic parts are grafted to their body to give them greater physical and mental strength.

Step 1: Form a group of three people. Then, take a large white sheet of paper and fold it into three equal parts.

Step 2: In turn, each person in your group chooses a felt-tip pen and draws a part of the cyborg in secret. Start with the head, then the upper body and finally the lower body. As you draw, imagine the different elements of their face, their clothes, their gestures, their posture. Which ones will you modify with the mechanical parts to turn them into a cyborg? Think about how technology can help us express our talents or personalities.

Step 3: When you have finished your part of the drawing, fold the paper to hide it before passing it to your partner. It should remain folded throughout the activity so that the complete cyborg is only revealed at the end of the exercise. 

Step 4: Unfold your drawing and discuss the choices you made. Come up with a name for your character and give them a mission. What would you like your cyborg to accomplish in life? In the digital world? Is it a superhero·ine or a detective? Tell the story of your science fiction character.

Activity 3

Create a soundscape

Shanie Tomassini
Shanie Tomassini, Nokia E5, Est-Nord-Est, Saint-Jean-Port-Joli, 2022. Photo: ENE/Jean-Sébastien Veilleux, courtesy of the artist

Theme: Materiality/Immateriality

Materials: a smartphone, headphones, a large sheet of paper, watercolour, water, and a pen with black ink.

We invite you to create a soundscape, inspired by the theme of materiality and immateriality in technology.

For this activity, we will illustrate the sounds of a place of your choice using watercolours and drawing.

Step 1: Record the ambient sounds of a place that inspires you, one that you frequent often. These sounds make up a “soundscape.” You can use a cell phone and place the camera lens against your hand to avoid filming. We suggest that you record at least one minute.

Step 2: Once your recording is done, you can share it with someone in your family or give it to a classmate.

You must receive a soundscape from another person in order to complete the second part of the activity.

Step 3: Now, listen to the recording in a quiet place with headphones. See if you can identify the different sounds.

Step 4: On a large sheet of paper and using watercolour paint, determine one or more colours that represent the emotion you feel while listening to this soundscape. You can then use them to cover the entire surface of the paper.

Step 5: Draw all the elements you hear with a black ink pen. This way you make the sounds you hear “material.”

*If the activity is done in a classroom, students can assemble the drawings on a large piece of cardboard and start a conversation about each of the “drawn sounds.”

Send us your creations!

Join the community and share your activity results with the hashtag #phifoundation or tag us @fondationphi on social media!

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