Reimagining Chinatown: Speculative Fictions from Toronto's Chinatown(s) in 2050
- Artist: Linda Zhang and Maxim Gertler-Jaffe
- Medium: Interactive Installation
- Project Type: Independent Projects
- Neighbourhood: Downtown
A 3D animated experience that reimagines the future of Toronto’s Chinatowns, creating new Chinatown worlds based on the hopes and fears of five community authors.
Cecil Community Centre
Cecil Community Centre
- Physical Access: Wheelchair accessible
This installation seeks to transform Chinatown by telling stories. In contrast to the news stories being told about Chinatown and Asian Canadians in the early months of 2020, community participants, (mostly young Asian-Canadians), took part in workshops where they wrote speculative fiction stories imagining what Toronto’s Chinatowns might look like 30 years post-pandemic. They were encouraged to radically break from the present moment through fantasy and science fiction. By removing any limits on how they might imagine the future, the artists hoped to create more generative possibilities for new worlds to emerge: to open up the present moment to new stories. The artists then chose five of these reimaginings of Chinatown and adapted them into a visual experience. 3D scans of Toronto’s Chinatowns in March 2020 provided building blocks that the artists collaged into five new Chinatown worlds. As visitors move through these strange yet familiar spaces, they hear the authors discussing their dreams, hopes and fears for Chinatown. Music and sound design enhances the affective experience of these worlds and the sense that they could already be real. In the space between these stories, the artists also leave room for the visitors’ own stories to emerge.
Linda Zhang is an artist, architect, drone pilot, and educator. Her work explores the future of community memory and cultural heritage through emergent technologies like virtual reality and 3D scanning alongside material processes like slipcasting. She grew up travelling several hours just to get groceries from Toronto’s Chinatown West. Maxim Gertler-Jaffe is an Emmy-nominated documentary film producer and an artist/researcher specializing in participatory, inventive and speculative methods. He is currently co-producing a documentary for Netflix.
Produced and Directed by: Linda Zhang and Maxim Gertler-Jaffe; Stories by Community Writers: Michael Chong, Amelia Gan, Eveline Lam, Helen Ngo and Amy Yan; World Building and Animations by: Meimei Yang, Reese Young and Margarita Yushina; Music by: respectfulchild