Phenomenology of the Road


In this installation, computational textile and 3D scanning were used to investigate the events and conflicting memories that transpire in the Phenomenology of the Road: Canfield Drive in Ferguson, Foster Drive in Baton Rouge, West Blvd in Cleveland, Lillibridge Street in Detroit, Robillard Avenue in Montreal, Hilda Street in Ottawa, Roger Road at Caledonia Road in Toronto, Kennedy Road North at Queen Street East in Toronto, and King George Highway in Surrey.
On the road, the traffic flows by separation; the thin yellow line offers the possibility of unaltered and unhindered movement. Through separation, the road becomes a quintessential site of transportation. And it transports far more than cars; the road offers a space for the dissemination and movement of ideas, feelings, thoughts, and practices. Roads regulate a plethora of social, cultural and historical affective flows. Affect is central here; while travelling, one feels as much as one thinks. As we go about our day to day routine, we may even perceive the road and its directionally charged flow to be neutral, what we might call normativity. But what does one do when this flow is disrupted, when the movement is hindered? Actually, the question is not (yet) one of ethics; it is not (yet) about what one does so much as what happens in the moment of disrupted movement, of halted flow. In the moment of disruption, affective flows disclose themselves. Although we do not notice them on a daily basis, although we cannot perceive them until they are broken, they are still there. Thus, “traffic”—be it vehicular, social, or political—is produced in the road when something flows against the established (historic, normative, social, cultural) direction, regardless of how seemingly minute the magnitude one does.
Made from 3D scanning the roads, this growing textile quilt makes evident that every road is charged and demands we confront the fact that nothing is ever neutral. These roads are better known by other names: Michael Brown, Alton Sterling, Tamir Rice, Aiyana Stanley-Jones, Pierre Coriolan, Abdirahman Abdi, Andrew Loku, Jermaine Carby, and Naverone Woods. As such events continue to transpire, this computational textiles will continue to grow in a never ending accumulation, eventually becoming too large to ignore, occupying too much space to not be felt. In doing so, this project announces the phenomenology of the road as a space of contestation.


Biko Mandela Gray

Project Team

Alisha Kapoor, Dante Baldassin, and Reide McClain.


This project is made possible with funds from Ryerson FCAD, support from the Ryerson University Library Collaboratory and Ryerson FCAD Creative Technology Lab

Exhibition Location

Frances Watson, Toronto, Ontario


Jocelyn Reynolds