April/May 2016

2016 inFORMING CONTENT took place at The Theatre Centre.

Day 1: Friday, April 29

Lectures will take place in the Theatre Centre mainspace from 6:30-8:30pm. The lectures are open to the public.

Speakers are:

Suvendrini Lena-What Has Happened to Our Time?
I love to read EEGs – lines that represent brain activity in magnitude (amplitude) energy (frequency) all over time. It’s a picture of pure consciousness, that human thing that is most precious, our very being, in time. But time…the axis…is a construct. Making being into a line.,..

Several years ago, at a conference on memory I heard a neuroscientist (Leila Davachi) say, on her way to another thought, “I don’t believe the brain has an inherent concept of time”. I’ve been somewhat obsessed with this idea ever since.

Of course, the brain has clocks. Circadian clocks and cellular timepeices that articulate inner physiology to the rhythms of the ecospheres surrounding us.

But these clocks are for cells and organs. What about consciousness. If there is no substance or substrate that anchors time – what does memory cling to. And our stories of ourselves? Our memories over time? Does consciousness have no real scaffold?

It turns out, atleast according to one dominant scientific memory model, that memory consists of multiple frames, or slides, or doors leading to rooms. The slides that can be shuffled. Sorted. Dealt. Within each window frame perspective can shift. Some windows are deep and others very shallow.

The idea of rooms and doors, frames and pictures, windows with a view – is intuitively appealing. Perhaps you’ve seen A woman with Alzheimers, or a multitasking single parent walk into a room with a purpose, and having arrived she cannot remember what she came for. It happened when she walked through the door into a new frame.

How long does it take to create a frame. And how do we color each moment each frame with meaning, emotion. How much ‘time’ does it take and when does it happen? Only once, or over and over again until the coloring transforms the image itself?

Think of a facebook window. How long do you take to explore it before you move from one window into another and another and another and another. Like one memory leads to another? (One is a journey out – the other is explicitely a journey in).

Before you could click and capture. Do you remember…those manual cameras you would focus yourself – aperture – shutter speed. And as you refined your frame, your idea, you absorbed the scene in depth. And before the camera, to remember a place one had no choice but to commit the scene to memory or words or an image constructed of long gestures of time and thought. Made with our own flesh. As we go backwards in time and thought memory and experience seem more deeply inscribed in the body.

Let’s stay with this idea of windows.. yes windows…like microsoft windows. As you sit daydreaming at your desk a window that pop up on your phone or your screen, on a billboard, through a soundbytes, sometimes so many tiled against one another. Each one might be unique. Invading or integrating into the windows of your own mind and memories. And where did the daydream go. And where did that hour go?

In my brief talk I will discuss some scientific experiments with frames and memory and we will do our own experiment to imagine the windows and frames of a woman in a village two hundred years ago vs my brain now in my (reluctantly) digitized world. How are our colors, windows, our time webs, and life lines differently constructed?

Lee Maracle-I Hesitate to Cheer Technology

I was born in the days of manual typewriters and galley presses and now I am facing a whole new language and daunting technology that I must master to continue being a literary artist. What seemed merely a convenience is fast becoming a way of life for everyone. So much of art now is bonded to technology. I am not a luddite, but I hesitate to cheer technology on.

Alanna Mitchell-Upside Down

I’m going to be talking about the potential reversal of the planet’s magnetic poles. Our planet is a giant, spinning magnet with two poles, north and south. The magnetic field created within our planet’s core is decaying, and that will eventually allow the poles to switch places. Part of the field over South America, the southern Atlantic and a portion of Africa is already dramatically weak, forcing satellites into shut-off mode as they pass through. The magnetic field protects life on Earth from solar radiation. As the field decays, our planet will be subjected to much higher levels of radiation than before. Scientists are still exploring the implications, but they appear to be significant for future cancer rates, possibly for creatures that navigate by the poles such as whales and tortoises that are already endangered, and for our electromagnetic systems. It’s not clear when a reversal could happen, but this is highly unlikely to be in the next century. So we’re talking about the intermediate future, probably. Pole reversals happen aperiodically on Earth (compared to every 11 years on the Sun) — but roughly every half million years. The last one happened 780,000 years ago. So we really don’t know what we’re in for.

Lee Smolin- Is Time Timeless?
Lee Smolin will be lecturing on time. For the last few years, he has been pioneering a new direction based on the hypothesis that time is a fundamental and irreducible aspect of nature, and that the fundamental laws of nature evolve irreversibly.


Day 2: Saturday, April 30 (participants only)

10am-2pm: Morning session
3pm-7pm: Afternoon session

Day 3: Sunday, May 1

10am-1pm: Morning session
3:00-6pm: Performances (open to the public)

2016 Organizers: 

Ross Manson
Deborah Pearson
Presented in partnership with The Theatre Centre

Team Leaders

Nadia Ross
Michael Rubenfeld
Michela Sisti
Donna Michelle St. Bernard
Jacob Wren