An installation with a big impact

Like a lot of his projects, the idea of burrowing a full-scale replica of a GPS satellite into Yukon permafrost came to Brandon Vickerd, professor in York’s Faculty of Fine Arts, by accident, wrote The Globe and Mail Aug. 25 in a review. “I misread a newspaper headline about them crashing,” he says, laughing. “Of course it meant that the central computer navigation system had gone down but at first I took it literally. I realized there was potential in that duality of understanding and the piece went from there.”

Vickerd, who teaches in York’s Department of Visual Arts, has been working on Northern Satellite since mid-June as artist-in-residence at Dawson City’s Klondike Institute of Art and Culture (KIAC). The sculptor was interested in exploring how technology mediates experience, and GPS seemed a perfect manifestation of that. “People now navigate by looking at computer screens rather than the landscape around them. To me, there’s interesting tension in literally crashing the technology making those representations into the object of representation.”

As close to the real thing as Vickerd could construct without actual plans (Lockheed Martin Corp. denied requests for assistance), Northern Satellite is fashioned out of birch wood painted metallic silver and NASA-black-and-white, and was installed Aug. 10 into a 1,500-square-foot crater dug between Dawson’s Front Street and the Yukon River. At first glance, it really does appear that something has fallen from orbit: There’s a quiet violence to the site, the earth torn up, the space-age technology eerily dormant. A feature of KIAC’s yearly The Natural and The Manufactured exhibit, the installation will remain on site until late October – after which, Vickerd, who returned to Toronto on Aug. 16, isn’t sure what will happen to it. “Maybe someone will float it downriver to Alaska,” he jokes.

That relaxed attitude isn’t dismissive, but speaks to Vickerd’s attraction to creating work that resists commodification. “I’ve never even attempted to sell a piece,” he says. “I like the idea of public work as something ephemeral that can’t be bought or sold, but also engages as many people as possible.”

With the work’s central location in town, most of Dawson City’s 1,700 residents will get to see Northern Satellite for free, which pleases its creator greatly.

GO boosts bus service for York University

GO Transit is adding bus trips to several university and college routes, including York University, in time for the start of the school year, wrote the North York The Mirror Aug. 24.

York students can take advantage of the following changes:

  • Starting Tuesday, Sept. 8, students are getting seven new weekday eastbound express bus trips between Square One in Mississauga and York University, with departures at 9:05am, 10:55am, 11:45am, 12:15pm, 12:45pm and 1:15pm.
  • Two new westbound weekday trips will leave York University at 7:15pm and 10:15pm, both express to Square One.
  • Two new weekday trips will leave York at 6:05am and 11:35pm, making all stops to the University of Guelph.
  • A new weekday eastbound trip will leave York University at 5:40pm running express to Pickering GO Station.
  • A new weekday eastbound trip will run express Monday to Thursday from York University to Scarborough Town Centre, departing at 9:35pm
  • Two new weekday westbound trips will leave Pickering GO Station at 11:25am and 12:25pm, running express to York University.
  • Three new weekday eastbound trips will leave York University at 6:15am, 7:15am and 9:15am, making all stops to Oshawa Bus Terminal.
  • A new weekday westbound trip will leave Oshawa Bus Terminal at 2:40pm, making all stops to York University.

Osgoode grad’s product liability case went to Supreme Court

William Kenneth Ebert (LLB ’58), QC, died peacefully at the Welland County General Hospital on Aug. 23 at the age of 80 following a brief illness, wrote The Welland Tribune Aug. 25. Ebert was well known in Port Colborne and the Niagara legal community as a litigator and one of his noted cases was heard by the Supreme Court of Canada and represented a breakthrough for consumers in the law of product liability.

Educated in Port Colborne, at McMaster University and Osgoode Hall Law School, he was called to the bar in 1958. He articled with McMillan Binch in Toronto and commenced the practice of law with the firm of Davies and Ebert in Port Colborne in 1958, retiring in 1995.