Modelling Reciprocity

Spring 2017

Modelling Reciprocity; blurring edges between definitions

Emma Mendel




In ’Modelling Reciprocity’ the metamorphic stages of concrete, sand, glycerin and lint, are investigated through a series of material experiments. The resulting sculptures allow viewers to examine new edges and gradients produced through interactions between materials. Informed by the political reconciliation disclosures between First Nations and Canada, Emma Mendel poetically employs constructive and erosive material processes to produce and transform these layered landscapes that comment on universal infrastructure and First Nations water rights.

“In the project I pair Infrastructural Standards with Anishinaabe Traditional Knowledge. The sculptures were a way of experimenting which then became metaphors of reciprocity, guiding my design process for the site. The sculptures begin to open up a space between western science and traditional knowledge, infrastructure and ecology, land and water, and vector and raster.

In traditional knowledge, water symbolizes the element from which all else comes. It is a living force and the centre of life rather than simply a component of it; life, land, and water are inseparable. This relationship with water is shared by all those on earth: our ancestors, the fish, grass, and rocks. It is characterized by a spirituality and sacredness, as well as an intimate knowledge and reciprocal respect and reverence for each body’s rights and responsibilities.”

Emma Mendel is a Canadian landscape architect. She obtained a BFA at the Rhode Island School of Design before completing her Masters of Landscape Architecture at the University of Toronto. Her undergraduate degree underpinned her research investigation into technique, media and modelling. These sculptures are part of a greater ongoing research project: Fluid Reciprocity; Access to Safe Drinking Water for First Nations Communities. This research focuses on Shoal Lake 40 as a case study.

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