[ISEA2023] Paper: Brice Ammar-Khodja — Symphony of the Stones: activating the metallic pollutants of the urban landscape in an urban art installation practice


Full Paper. Theme: Architectures – Territoires Subtheme: Symbiotic Organizations

In the late 1980s, the Canadian Pacific Railway abandoned a rail yard on the outskirts of Montreal’s Mile End district. Within a few years, the return of animal and plant species encouraged the citizen community to reinvest in this site known as Le Champ des Possibles. Despite community efforts to rehabilitate this wasteland, hydrocarbon and heavy metal pollution persists in the soil and thus needs rethinking the engagement with the imperceptible mutations of ecosystems. Symphony of the Stones was created in response to this context. This research-creation project consists of several urban art installations that activate residual metals in soils by their magnetic characteristics to make these imperceptible pollutants visible. The following paper unfolds the different processes, methodologies and strategies that led to in-site interventions blending art installation, collaboration with different communities and associations and leading to a rethinking of art practices in the urban environment.

  • Brice Ammar-Khodja is an artist, graphic designer, and Ph.D. student based in Montreal (CA) and Paris (FR). His work examines active materials, residual matter, and low-technologies to explore the socio-environmental and political interconnections pertaining to materiality and urban pollution. He is currently pursuing a thesis jointly supervised in Concordia University – Montreal (Individualized Program) and EnsAD, EnsadLab – Paris (Reflective Interaction research group, SACRe program). He is a member of the Speculative Life Research Cluster (Milieux Institute), the Centre for Sensory Studies, and the Concordia’s Canada Excellence Research Chair in Smart, Sustainable and Resilient Communities and Cities. Brice is a current member of the international research-creation network Hexagram. Co-director of the typography magazine Pied de Mouche, Brice Ammar-Khodja, creates workshops and educational tools for the general public. His works have been exhibited at Ars Electronica, MUTEK, Centre Pompidou, Biennale internationale du Design, la Cité internationale des Arts, V2_Institute for Unstable Media, Musée historique de la Ville de Strasbourg.