“Livable Cities” brings together interdisciplinary research, creative inquiry and city planning methods to explore current city development through sound, smell and other embodied perspectives. Presented by Simon Fraser University and hosted by the City of New Westminster, this one-day symposium will take up various disciplinary approaches, including architecture, community development, and socio-cultural issues. The event will include panels and talks, sensory workshops and sound art presentations. Communities in flux across the Lower Mainland present unique opportunities to engage with city planning strategies, urban densification, and the impact of soundscapes, smellscapes and mobilities on local urban environments.

Visiting Scholars include Mel McBride and Randolph Jordan. Evening concert curated by Barry Truax.

Thursday, April 13 2017
9:00am – 9:00pm
Anvil Centre

General Admission: $10
Seniors 55+: $5
Students: Free with valid student ID
Tickets include access to all Symposium events, including panels, presentations, workshops, and evening concert.

Workshops: Free and open to the public (with registration)
To reserve your spot, please note first and second workshop choices when completing registration.

Tickets are available via Ticketsnw.ca

09:00 – Panel I: Urban Mobilities (Moderator: Dr. Ben Mortensen)
10:30 – Coffee break
10:45 – Panel II: Sensing the City (Moderator: David Murphy)
12:15 – Lunch: Cheeses Crust Food Truck
13:00 – Workshops (see descriptions below)
14:45 – Coffee break
15:00 – Panel III: Art & the City: the influence of art and culture on City planning (Moderator: Kristina Fiedrich/Biliana Velkova)
17:00 – CAPTURE Photography Festival Artist Talk: James Nizam
17:00 – Free Tours of New Media Gallery exhibition: BRINK
19:00 – Evening Concert Program: Invisible Soundscapes, curated by Barry Truax


Panel I: Urban Mobilities
Moderator: Dr. Ben Mortensen
9:00am – 10:30am

Spatial Sonification of Earthquake Risk as Augmented Reality Soundwalk for Public Intervention
Presented by: Marc St Pierre, Aileen Wang and Mingtao Kong

Blurred lines: The liminality of mobility scooters
Presented by: Sharon Jang, Ben Mortenson, Laura Hurd Clarke, Lee Kirby

A Simple Solution to Address the Challenge of Getting Off Light Rail for People with Disabilities
Presented by: Mike Prescott

Surveillance and Soundwalking
Presented by: Jorma Kujala

Panel II: Sensing the City
Moderator: David Murphy
10:45 – 12:15

Friction, communication and urban space
Presented by: Stuart Poyntz

Sonic Warfare: Audio as a high-stakes battleground
Presented by: Matt Horrigan

Nocturnal Ethnographies and Sensorial Practices: Towards an Anthropology of the Night
Presented by: Eleonora Diamanti

Urban Tastescapes
Presented by: Stephanie Gagne

Panel III: Art & the City: the influence of art and culture on City planning
Moderator: Kristina Fiedrich & Biliana Velkova
3:00 – 5:00

Presenters: Lisa Leblanc (Manager, Transportation, City of New Westminster); Mary Trentadue (City Councillor); Sarah Joyce (Co-Curator/Director, New Media Gallery); Rebecca Bayer (Artist)


Workshop 1: Listening at the Intersection of Contested Space on the Fraser River
Presented by: Dr. Randolph Jordan, Concordia University

The geographies of cities are inherently political, and these politics are inherently historical. What can sound tell us about the histories, uses and politics of the spaces we inhabit everyday? In this workshop we will discuss the relationships between listening, technology, and space with specific reference to how the complexities of land use have been represented in the soundtracks of Vancouver-based films and media over the last century. We will then take a group soundwalk in the area around the Anvil Centre, following the rail lines by the Fraser River as we listen for evidence of the intersections between the traditional territory of the Qayqayt First Nation, 20th Century industrial development, and 21st Century gentrification. The walk will be followed by an open discussion in which the audience will be invited to share their experiences of the area with one another, with a particular ear for understanding the relationship between listening, the politics of urban space, and the role of media technologies in fostering engagement with place.

Bio: Randolph Jordan is a lecturer in the Cinema department at Concordia University in Montreal, Canada. His research, teaching, and creative practice reside at the intersections of soundscape research, media studies, and critical geography. He has published widely on the ways in which the fields of acoustic ecology and film sound studies can inform each other, and he is now completing a book manuscript for Oxford University Press entitled An Acoustic Ecology of the Cinema.

Workshop 2: Putting our noses to the ground: Principles and practices of smellwalking
Presented by: Melanie McBride, Ryerson University
1:00pm – 2:30pm

Despite its fundamental importance to our survival and co-existence in cities, smell is one of our most neglected and undervalued senses in our screen-oriented culture. Among the most popular myths of smell is that it is a kind of machine for lost memories and emotions, wistfully recalled on cue. In reality, however, smell-triggered memories are not ‘recollections’ requiring any effort to describe but rather rapid, involuntary, visceral experiences. Culture has taught us to smell from nose ‘up’ rather than attending to the qualities, characteristics or attributes of the odours themselves, much less their sources. Smells comprise much of our urban everyday experience, yet we have little vocabulary or idea how to make sense of it. Drawing on varied practices and perspectives from sensory science, dog cognition, perfumery, wine education and smell ‘mapping,’ this workshop will teach you how smell, and why to smell, from the nose ‘down.’ The workshop includes a smellwalk in which you will learn how to detect and appreciate the urban smellscape along with creative techniques to document, represent and communicate your smelled experiences to others.

Bio: Melanie McBride is an educator and doctoral candidate in the graduate program in Communications and Culture at York University and founder of the ‘Smell Lab’ at Ryerson’s Responsive Ecologies lab. Her doctoral research investigates the ‘hidden curricula’ of aroma culture with a focus on situated contexts of learning and literacy with smell. Melanie has undertaken site-specific research of aroma-rich sites in Canada and France, to investigate what is constituted or designed as an ‘educational’ resource, learning environment or curriculum involving aroma. Her research aims to identify dispositions, practices and environments that contribute to ecologically and socio-culturally situated and inclusive approaches to learning, communicating and making with aroma. For a more detailed overview of Melanie’s work and background please visit her website: melaniemcbride.net

Workshop 3: Barriers and facilitators to mobility and participation among mobility device users.
Presented by: Dr. Ben Mortenson
1:00pm – 2:30pm

Over 3 million Canadians have a mobility disability. Many of these individuals rely on mobility assistive technology (e.g., canes, crutches, walkers, manual wheelchairs, scooters and powered wheelchairs) to enable them to get from place to place. Users of these devices may encounter a variety of physical and social barriers to their use, which may restrict their mobility and limit their social participation. We conducted a study to explore the barriers and facilitators of mobility and participation among people who use mobility devices. In today’s presentation, data from participants living in New Westminster will be highlighted. The first half will present empirical findings from the study. The second half will involve accessibility tours of the conference centre and surrounding area led by local mobility device users. This is an ongoing mixed-methods project that uses multiple research methods, including qualitative interviews, photo voice (i.e., participants take pictures of barriers and facilitators), participant led environmental audits, and mobility tracking using global positioning satellite data.

Bio: Ben Mortenson is an assistant professor in the Department of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy at the University of British Columbia. He is a principal investigator at the GF Strong Rehabilitation Research Program and International Collaboration on Repair Discoveries (ICORD). He is the recipient of a prestigious career scientist award (CIHR New Investigator Award). He is an experienced mixed-methods researcher with over 50 peer reviewed publications. His work is centered on four main populations: assistive technology users, informal and formal caregivers, individuals with spinal cord injury, and residents in long-term care. His research focuses on four overlapping areas: assistive technology, social participation, caregiving and outcome measurement. Examples of his current research includes studies to a) evaluate the outcomes of scooter skills training, b) identify barriers and facilitators to mobility and participation among people who use different types of mobility devices, c) develop novel technologies to help informal (family) caregivers, and d) explore the experiences of those ageing with spinal cord injury versus those who acquire one later in life.


Invisible Soundscapes
Curated by Barry Truax
7:00pm – 9:00pm

Comprised of student and community artists present and past, this curated evening program presents different takes on context-based compositional work, engaging themes around lived experience, space and cities.

Bio: Barry Truax is a Professor Emeritus in the School of Communication (and formerly the School for the Contemporary Arts) at Simon Fraser University where he taught courses in acoustic communication and electroacoustic music. He worked with the World Soundscape Project, editing its Handbook for Acoustic Ecology, and has published a book Acoustic Communication dealing with sound and technology. As a composer, Truax is best known for his work with the PODX computer music system which he has used for tape solo works, music theatre pieces and those with live performers or computer graphics. In 1991 his work, Riverrun, was awarded the Magisterium at the International Competition of Electroacoustic Music in Bourges, France. Truax’s multi-channel soundscape compositions are frequently featured in concerts and festivals around the world. Since his retirement in 2015, Barry has been the Edgard Varèse Guest Professor at the Technical University in Berlin, and Guest Composer at the 2016 BEAST Festival in Birmingham. Website: ww.sfu.ca/~truax

*Concert included with Symposium registration.

For more information please contact: Dr. Milena Droumeva at mvdroume@sfu.ca

This event is sponsored by the City of New Westminster, Anvil Centre, and Simon Fraser University.