me-dérive: toronto is an augmented reality app that recalls site-specific, visual narratives integrating crowd-sourced images that work against the conventional nature of archival material, which often fail to account for diverse, marginalized histories.
This dissertation is an innovate exploration of the intersections between participatory archiving and augmented reality (AR), rooted in the necessity to engage more fully with Toronto’s diverse and historical cultural heritage. Foregrounded as research-creation, this work describes, theorizes, and disseminates an AR counter-archive— me-dérive: toronto. Mobilizing power away from institutional archives and into the hands of the public, me-dérive: toronto uses the power of locative media in order to provide records of Toronto’s diverse past and present in-situ. A portmanteau of the word ‘mediation’ and the Situationist’s notion of the dérive, the app produces a new paradigm to the archive—
one that is simultaneously participatory and techno-informed. With every found photograph and submission alike the project multiples both in volume and vigor to combat the archival injustices that fail to narrativize Canadian immigrant identities.
This counter-archive reclaims space through a participatory visual account of history, allowing for a different kind of knowledge—one that is techno-embodied—to emerge and be embraced. As the scope of the records and overall scale of the project amplifies, it engages a layer of complementary principles— the accrual of diverse narratives, the opposition of pre-prescribed history by governing institutions, and the dynamism to employ technology to engage critically with heritage records beyond the confinements of exclusive cultural spaces.
Through historical research, precedent scanning, insights into cultural production, participatory and mobile app observation and research-creation projects, counter-archival projects demand that institutions become more inclusive, not only in collection practices, but in dissemination and access practices as well. My research addresses the gaps and omissions that exist in our institutional archives, while making explicit what is needed to make a more holistic, comprehensive archive of Toronto’s diverse narratives.
me-dérive: toronto has been developed at the intersection of a series of technological, social, and cultural routes: the omnipresence of locative and app-based media; the spatial turn in social sciences; the use of mobile media for supplementary content in cultural archives and museum spaces alike; the critical importance of cultivating marginalized narratives; the political concern of privacy and safety in varying public spaces; and the duality of virtual and real environments that hold the potential to augment space and place.