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October 16 @ 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
The Emergence of a New Field of Interdisciplinary Inquiry
October 16–21, 2023
Massey Hall, University of Guelph
Improvising Communities: A Retrospective Exhibition marks the celebration of a significant milestone in the emerging field of Critical Studies in Improvisation.
The founding of the International Institute for Critical Studies in Improvisation (IICSI) at the University in Guelph was facilitated by a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Partnership Grant, awarded in 2012. The Partnership Grant set in motion a decade of robust research and creative outputs generated by a team of scholars, researchers, community partners, and arts practitioners on a local, national, and international scale.
This exhibition illustrates the formalization of improvisation as a field of academic inquiry over the ten+ year period of the SSHRC Partnership Grant in which the institute was named (2012 to 2022) and narrates how IICSI has evolved into a central source for the collection and dissemination of research on the social implications of improvisational practices.
Improvising Communities invites you to explore, inquire, investigate, and play with a curated selection of sample projects generated by IICSI’s network during this extended period, from practice-based community programming to accessible new media technologies. The exhibition encourages you to consider one of IICSI’s central research questions: can improvisation be a vehicle for positive social change?
This exhibition takes places October 16–21, 2023 in Massey Hall, at the University of Guelph.
The Hand You Are Dealt: Improvising the Archive
In late 2022, IICSI approached Studio Oleomingus, a partner on their new SSHRC grant “Improvising Futures,” about creating a video game which showcases the last ten years of IICSI’s research findings. Enthusiastic and up for the task, Studio Oleomingus and IICSI set to work to determine the format, content, and technical specifications of the game, meeting monthly with an advisory committee to talk through ideas, troubleshoot potential issues, and narrow in on a delightful player experience.
After almost a full year of collaboration, what emerges is a freeform digital toy: a collection of playing cards that contain within them a variety of media, including audio tracks, documentaries, short films, photographs, recorded performances, artwork, and more, from different research and creative outputs generated by IICSI and their network over the past decade. We proudly present to you, The Hand You Are Dealt: Improvising the Archive.
Hosted on your web browser, the game is accessible to anyone with an internet connection, and it invites players to discover the intricacies of IICSI’s diverse array of researchers, partners, and community organizations, all while learning a little bit about the institute’s research and activities.
IICSI and Studio Oleomingus hope the game will be as fun to play as it is informative, and hope the game leads to a wider conversation about improvisation in the exploration of digital archives and interactive art.
The video game will premiere at our exhibition opening night, on Monday, October 16 at 7 pm at Massey Hall, University of Guelph.
Monday, October 16
7–9 pm | Opening Reception
Join IICSI for the opening reception of Improvising Communities: A Retrospective Exhibition at Massey Hall, University of Guelph! The evening will be divided into two parts: a special premiere of our video game The Hand You are Dealt: Improvising the Archive and talk back with Studio Oleomingus creators Dhruv Jani and Sushant Chakraborty, and an exclusive screening of the documentary Cape Spear Klang (2021) and talk back with Directors Ellen Waterman and Diego Pani. Light refreshments will be provided. Massey Hall is a physically accessible venue.