Detours: Poetics of the City

Detours is designed and directed by Taien Ng-Chan, who also contributes two maps: City Transit, video-poems and stories about riding the bus and metro, and Streets of the Saints, a playful melding of geography, hagiography and poetry (with the help of Byzantine iconographer Adrian Gorea). Excerpts from Lance Blomgren's Walkups are mapped out to Gord Allen's sound explorations, finding stories and absurdities in the lives and dwellings of Montrealers. For City Ditties, Samuel Thulin creates mobile media music, using only sounds recorded on-site, and creating them on-site as well, on an iPhone. Emilie O'Brien's Field Notes invokes Maguire Meadows, aka Le champ des possibles, with embroidery, textworks, images, and an interview with the creator of the Roerich Garden project. Donna Akrey maps the Desirelines that she encounters in her travels through the city – those paths made by people pursuing the shortest distance between two points. Finally, the map Rendez-vous was produced in collaboration with the participants of Accés Culture Montreal's "cultural mediation" workshops, as part of the 2012 Biennale internationale d'art numérique.

The works presented here are optimally viewed or listened to in the places that inspired them, though they also beckon to the armchair tourist. Detours is meant to be a mobile media project, accessible through tablet computers and smart phones (headphones recommended).

Detours: Poetics of the City was produced by Taien Ng-Chan and Agence TOPO.

Agence TOPO
Chair and Administrator: Michel Lefebvre
Coordinator General: Marc Fournel
Assistant Coordinator: Éric Paillé
Multimedia Director: Vincent Archambault
Intern: Jouvens Bienvenue

Taien Ng-Chan would like to thank Agence TOPO for their support of this project, and to all her collaborators for their wonderful work. And thank you to Joe Ollmann and Samuel Ollmann-Chan, as always.
Agence TOPO would like to thank the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec, the Canada Council for the Arts, the Conseil des arts de Montréal, the City of Montreal, and the Society for Arts and Technology for their support.
Artists' Bios


Taien Ng-Chan is a writer and media artist who investigates the poetics of everyday urban life through experimental cinema and cartography. Her works include a poetry book/multimedia CD entitled Maps of Our Bodies and the Borders We Have Agreed Upon, and two anthologies, Ribsauce and Navigating Customs. She has written drama for stage, screen, and radio, and her videos have been shown across Canada, in the US, Korea, Sweden, and the UK. Her short film The Red Ribbon won the Location Michel Trudel Award at Concordia University, where she received her MFA, and where she is now pursuing her Ph.D. in the fields of Cinema and Urban Studies. For more info:


Donna Akrey is an artist and teacher living in Montreal. Her work reflects her interest in the urban environment, language and communication, body and mind and the power of the habitual on our dreams and realities.

Gordon Neil Allen is a Montreal-based audio engineer and composer for film, theatre, and dance whose work has been part of performances across Canada and France. In 1998, while living in Toronto, he co-founded Technot, an organization committed to the presentation of live experimental electronic music. He had the pleasure of accompanying multimedia artist Renée Gagnon to the 2009 Festival d'Avignon for her presentation of "Project McQueen". Gordon trained in audio post-production and music production at The Banff Centre in Alberta.

Lance Blomgren is a writer, curator and artist based in Vancouver and Dawson City.

Adrian Gorea is a Ph.D. student in the Interdisciplinary Doctoral Program in Humanities at Concordia University, combining studies in Visual Arts, Art History, and Theology. Adrian considers popular culture in relation to the artistic methods of Eastern Orthodox icon painting, in order to propose a mode of critical inquiry that challenges the corporate aesthetics of commodities. His practice as a Byzantine iconographer in Romania, where he painted religious murals and icons for several churches, led him to argue that an icon could be a valid subject matter for contemporary art, despite the fact that artists, for the most part, have shied away from religious art. Adrian's work has been exhibited in Europe, Canada, and United States.

Emilie O'Brien is a Montreal-based artist. Through slow and often improvisational processes she creates text works, paintings, sculptures and video work. These projects respond to and often meditate upon fragmentation and the multi-faceted whole, with an emphasis on connection, or a disconnection, of these parts. Since graduating from Emily Carr Institute of Art & Design in Vancouver BC, Emilie has participated in exhibitions and projects on a local, national and international scale. With her partner Billy, Emilie runs Monastiraki Gallery, a curated boutique of curiosities and art in Montreal.

Samuel Thulin is a musician, researcher, and media artist living in Montreal. His work is concerned with concepts of mobility and place, as well as the history of media and technology. He is a member of the Mobile Media Lab and PhD candidate in the Communication Studies department at Concordia University.
Contact: samuel_thulin(at)

Élizabeth Robert is a literary translator, member of LTAC, who specializes in poetry and Spoken Word. She holds a Bachelor of translation studies from Concordia University and has signed several translations of poetry with various Canadian and European publishers. As a full member of The League of Canadian Poets, Éliz Robert performs her own creations in French, English and Spanish. She has presented and performed her work in Canada, Europe, USA and South America.