NEW CIRCADIA (adventures in mental spelunking)

John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design Launches
New Gallery with Inaugural Installation: NEW CIRCADIA (adventures in mental spelunking)

New Circadia transforms the Daniels Faculty’s new 3,000-square-metre Gallery into a metaphoric cave – a soft utopia designed as an antidote to our technologically-infused lives.

Have our tech-infused lives caused us to forget the benefits and pleasures of losing ourselves in states of repose and reverie?

The Daniels Faculty is pleased to launch the Architecture and Design Gallery, a unique, experimental space — the only gallery of its kind in Toronto — located in the lower level of the Daniels Building at One Spadina Crescent.

Curated by Professor Richard Sommer and New York-based designers, Pillow Culture, the Gallery’s inaugural installation, New Circadia (adventures in mental spelunking), prompts participants to ask: What would happen if we disconnected from standard time and external stimuli within a dream-like space specifically designed for relaxation, reflection, and repose?

New Circadia (an approximate translation from Latin for “New Day”) has been conceived to engage the city and the University of Toronto community alike in an immersive environment — an underground, cave-like, soft utopia.

“Architecture today is inextricably bound up in the urbanization of the planet, and it needs to pay as much attention to the marking of time, as it traditionally has to the shaping of space,” says co-curator, Richard Sommer, Dean and Professor at the Daniels Faculty. “With New Circadia, we are acknowledging architecture’s complicity in an increasingly stressful and zombie-like world by presenting an antidote to the over-mechanization of everyday life and our plugged-in, 24/7 culture. Might it be time to put architecture to sleep?”

The interactive installation will be made up of three zones. Beginning at the east entrance of the Daniels Building, visitors will enter a subterranean space through a Transitory Zone or “mouth of the cave,” illuminated with an artificial skylight created via digital technology. Here, visitors will store their belongings and choose from a variety of body wearables or “spelunking gear”.

Then, moving through a felt envelope, participants will enter the main cave space, an uncanny Dark Zone, with a large yet soft rock-like lounge-scape, animated with responsive sound and light. Oneiroi will invite visitors to anonymously record their personal dreams and listen to those recorded by others. Throughout the installation, visitors will be encouraged to make use of the cave’s soft infrastructure, including its felted floors and walls, to engage in self-directed rest and meditation.

Inspired by both the 1938 Mammoth Cave Experiment (the first staging of a scientific research laboratory for studying natural human cycles of sleep and wakefulness) and the synesthetic happenings of the 1960’s and 70’s, this haptic installation will offer visitors a variety of experiences, including a series of thematic lectures, multidisciplinary performances, dialogues, film screenings, and nocturnes. New Circadia’s events and programming will be organized around six time-based themes: story time, deep time, wasting time, break time, marking time, and dream time.

“We have transformed the new Architecture and Design Gallery into a soft utopia to conjure a greater sense of geological, mythical, mechanical, and biological time, and to explore how we might nurture a more sustained interior life by incubating dream-like states of rest, reflection, and reverie,” say co-curators Natalie Fizer and Emily Stevenson of the firm Pillow Culture.

Both the space and programming of New Circadia is aimed at demonstrating that idling, whether by sleeping, dreaming, napping, or meditating, is not lost, unproductive time, but rather an essential state of mind and body, connected to experiences vital to our survival and evolution.

Exhibition support is provided through the Lorne M. Gertner Fund.

Please join us in exploring New Circadia at the launch event on November 7, 2019 at 7:30pm.

The installation and affiliated events will run until April 30, 2020. Children must be supervised at all times.

Gallery Hours: Tuesday to Sunday, 9:00am to 9:00pm

Please check the Daniels Faculty website and/or social media for details on upcoming talks and events associated with the installation. A registration link will be posted shortly.

Download the information related to this event here.


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Cite: "NEW CIRCADIA (adventures in mental spelunking)" 22 Oct 2019. ArchDaily. Accessed . <> ISSN 0719-8884

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