“Material Evidence” with Charles Blow, Patricia McCarney and Ben Rubin

On February 6, 2014, the Material Evidence Fora brought together Charles Blow, Patricia McCarney, and Ben Rubin to discuss and debate the potential for visual representations of data to improve civic engagement and make better sense of the world in which we live.

Richard Sommer, Dean, and Professor of Architecture and Urbanism at the University of Toronto‘s John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design moderated the discussion, which proved to be both provocative, and timely.

Charles M. Blow is The New York Times’ visual Op-Ed columnist. His column appears in The Times on Saturday. He joined The New York Times in 1994 as a graphics editor and quickly became the paper’s graphics director, a position he held for nine years. Mr. Blow went on to become the paper’s Design Director for News before leaving in 2006 to become the Art Director of National Geographic Magazine. Before coming to The Times, Mr. Blow had been a graphic artist at The Detroit News.

Mr. Blow is a CNN commentator, often appearing on Piers Morgan Tonight and AC360. He has also appeared on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, the Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell and Hardball with Chris Matthews, Headline News’ The Joy Behar show, Fox News’ Fox and Friends, the BBC and Al Jazeera, as well as numerous radio programs.

Professor Patricia McCarney received her PhD in International Development and Planning from MIT in 1987. She has served as Associate Vice President, International Research and Development at the University of Toronto and is currently a Professor of Political Science and Director of the new Global Cities Institute at the University of Toronto. She is also Director of the Global City Indicators Facility (GCIF).

In addition to seven published books , Patricia McCarney is also the author of numerous articles and papers. Her most recent contributions are two chapters in Climate Change and Cities: First Assessment Report of the Urban Climate Change Research Network (Cambridge University Press 2011). Her two newest books nearing completion (2014) are tentatively titled, Global Cities, Global Prosperity: Measuring Risk and Opportunity; and, Building Resilient Cities: Planning, Management and Governance.

Ben Rubin is a media artist based in New York City. His work engages with texts and data, transforming it into light, sound, space, and motion. Ben recently completed an light sculpture called “Shakespeare Machine” for New York‘s Public Theater, which continuously reconfigures the text of Shakespeare’s plays in the theater’s lobby. He frequently collaborates with UCLA statistician Mark Hansen, and their joint projects include Moveable Type (2007), a commission for the lobby of the New York Times Building, and Listening Post (2002) which won the 2004 Golden Nica Prize from Ars Electronica as well as a Webby award in 2003. Since 2009, Rubin has been collaborating with the Elevator Repair Service theater company, developing critically acclaimed media-performance works including “Shuffle” (2011) and “Arguendo” (2013).

Mr. Rubin’s work has been shown at the Whitney Museum of American Art, MoMA, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Reina Sofia Museum in Madrid, the Fondation Cartier in Paris, and the San Jose Museum of Art. Mr. Rubin holds a B.A. from Brown University (1987) and an M.S. in visual studies from the MIT Media Lab (1989). Mr. Rubin has taught at the Bard College MFA program, NYU, and the Yale School of Art, where he was appointed critic in graphic design in 2004.


The Daniels Fora present vigorous, engaging, and accessible discussions of interest not only to students, alumni, and professionals, but also the broader public. The goal of these public events is to bring together different perspectives in order to raise the level of debate, build relationships, and stimulate discussion among academics, institutions, and the general public.

Stage furnishings provided by Herman Miller.

For more information about the John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design at the University of Toronto, visit us at http://www.daniels.utoronto.ca.


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