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birdbox (2012-2019)

the triangle of trust (2017)

LEITRIM (2015)

Tomboy Tools (2013-2014)

the triangle of trust (2017)

the ∇ of trust (2017), neon, 7ft x 6ft x 1ft, Katarokwi-Kingston, Ontario, special thanks to Terry Swiaty  and his team at Jones Neon Signs. (Installation view: Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts) Photo by Chris Miner  * this artwork is for sale. 

the triangle of trust is a neon representation of the Canadian Security and Intelligence Service (CSIS) headquarters located in Ottawa. The neon captures the architectural design of the headquarters by illuminating a line drawing of the building. The glass tubing and florescent blue tints intentionally replicate the glass exterior of the CSIS headquarter. Painted with a sea of windows, the CSIS headquarter insists that it is a transparent and visible institution. Though as several scholars have argued, windows and glass façades don’t actually equate visibility.[1] Scholar Nigel Whiteley writes that transparency once “signified ethical progress (…) and virginal of lies and trivialities.”[2] Today, contemporary transparent architecture is challenged by security apparatuses’ and personnel. Whiteley asserts “what transparency promises, security prevents”.[3] Despite CSIS’s desire to render its interior visible, viewers gaze is subject to several factors including security personnel, trespassing, limited gaze. 


Scholars Henriette Steiner and Kristin Veel exemplifies that “when it comes to the material qualities of glass, it is an important fact that even a glass box will only appear completely transparent at particular weather, and light conditions, and mainly at night time”.[4] As such, the triangle of trust complicates CSIS’s desire to be transparent through its architecture by replicating its glass façade, but also illustrating limited architectural information through a simple line drawing. Viewers do not have access to the interior of the headquarters, thus must create their own thoughts and relationships with the work. The lack of architectural information allows audiences to question this lack, therefore producing new opportunities for exploration, thought, and knowledge building. This work creeps our understanding of this space, and uses CSIS’s apparatus of openness against itself.


Beyond its glass and lighting characteristics, the use of neon as a material of production intentionally challenged the use of neon signage as advertising. the triangle of trust challenges the welcoming nature of neon signage by replicating the architectural design of a building notorious for its secrecy. Whereas this building strives for transparency, it is also known for conducting several confidential security initiatives in so called Canada.[5] In this work, I’ve brought together competing themes of transparency, secrecy, and hospitality. Where viewers might feel drawn to the bright and inviting neon, once they reach the object and explore the history of the building which it replicates, there is no doubt a sense of confusion, conflict, and curiosity. Finally, the triangle of trust is installed on its back, rather than on a wall, which creeps traditional neon installation methods. By laying flat on a plinth like surface, the triangle of trust intentionally imitates and creep’s architectural blueprints, a medieval war table, or an aerial map view of the establishment. By laying the neon in a flat position, audience members may experience the creative and manufactured details of the neon structure. 


[1] Henriette Steiner and Kristin Veel, “Living Behind Glass Facades”, Surveillance & Society 9, 1/2 (2011): 215-32. 

[2] Nigel Whiteley, “Intensity of Scrutiny and a Good Eyeful: Architecture and Transparency”, Journal of Architectural Education (2003): 9. 

[3] Ibid, 14. 

[4] Henriette Steiner and Kristin Veel, “Living Behind Glass Facades”, 215-32.

[5] Gary Kinsmen, The Canadian War on Queers: national security as sexual regulation, (UBC Press: 2010), 336-458. 

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