Last night, in the darkness under the Gardiner Expressway, Toronto’s first permanent multimedia art commission was unveiled. WATERTABLE, the 500 m2 light and sound installation, by Toronto artists Lisa Steele and Kim Tomczak, gives us an idea of when the shores of Lake Ontario used to reach this far inland. The piece, which shimmers with long strings of LED lights, includes audio of lapping water and waves, recorded on the far side of the Toronto Islands.
Artist Lisa Steele says, “we think of WATERTABLE as a piece of public art that will help to humanise the environment for residents and visitors alike.” Situated between the lake and the Historic Fort York, the installation helps to visually connect the waterfront to the city. Adjacent to the new pedestrian entrance at Fort York, the piece will be a beacon for the upcoming Visitors Centre and the revitalisation of the 43-acre site.
WATERTABLE responds to the prevailing wind patterns using an anemometer, which measures wind velocity. This results in a sensory experience of visual and auditory layers, shifting from south to north like the waves against the shore. With over a hundred people at the unveiling, including a few passer-bys, this ‘dead’ area under the Gardiner is already experiencing a change in attitude. WATERTABLE is the beginning of this change in, as Steele calls it, “this vibrant and growing neighbourhood.”
Photos by Nicole Bruun-Meyer