Interdisciplinary Conference


in Art & Science

26-28 November 2020, University of Applied Arts Vienna/Online

127. The City Island
Session: Session "NSP10 / Phrenic"
Speakers: Elizabeth Littlejohn

‘The City Island’ follows the unified effort of the Toronto Island residents who protected the Toronto Park System from flooding by Lake Ontario in 2017 and 2020. It is composed of interviews with Toronto Island residents, indigenous activists, sailors, Feminist Art Collective artists from Artscape Gibraltar Point, and the Parks supervisor, Warren Hoselton, interwoven with cinema vérité footage of their combined conservation efforts with archival footage and artwork depicting the timeline and the history of the Toronto Islands. 

The Islanders are often criticized in the media for being privileged for living on the islands, but they view themselves as environmental stewards, and as artistic and historic documentarians of the island, in conjunction with the Indigenous community. Their political resistance to the island homes being razed by bulldozers has been legendary, and their ongoing quest to save the Toronto Island from floodwaters, airport expansion and increasing urbanization are depicted throughout this documentary, intercut with their efforts to protect their homes from flooding. ‘The City Island’ is a forensic examination of the loss of the park system through natural and man-made causes from the point of view of the islanders as they sandbag the shores of the Toronto Islands, under the guidance of parks supervisor, Warren Hoselton, as they protect the island shores from erosion. 

‘The Lakeside Home for Little Children’ is a prototype for a virtual reality and augmented reality documentary which traces the journey of a young patient from the SickKids Hospital in downtown Toronto to the Lakeside Hospital on Hanlan’s Point as part of an annual procession in 1893. In this open air sanitarium, the ten-year-old girl undergoes treatment from tuberculosis, and returns to the SickKids Hospital at the end of the summer. As an augmented-reality smart phone application, the project can be viewed at the hospital’s former site at Hanlan’s Point on the Toronto Islands, and as a VR project, it can be viewed to learn about the hospital’s charitable history. It is intended to recreate a little known part of the history of the SickKids Hospital, and create empathy for a child undergoing heliotherapeutic treatment based upon medical archives. 

Both of these projects will be discussed in detail to focus on my social justice working methodology during my presentation. During my presentation, I will also discuss how ‘The City Island’ was translated into a VR narrative based upon archival research.

Elizabeth Littlejohn

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