Scotiabank Nuit Blanche

Zone A Exhibition Project

Tower of Progress, 2004, 2012

Suitable for all ages

Tower of Progress, 2004, 2012

Laurent Gagnon - Qu├ębec City, Canada


A monument to the present, Tower of Progress is a 16-foot obelisk composed of metal parts of discarded machines. While the obelisk form itself is historically a symbol of victory and conquest, here it incorporates elements of failure constructed from the programmed obsolescence of technological devices. An interior lighting system is used to illuminate the form and its composition, while an audio track projects a hum of urban activity.

Gagnon's body of work integrates a variety of materials and practices, united by concerns for minutiae, resilience, and the effects of time. Initiated in 2005, Tower of Progress is an ongoing project that continues to evolve. Built with mechanical plates and parts retrieved from a variety of machines such as sewing machines, typewriters, cash registers and other recuperated material, the structure connects past and present, drawing on relics from other eras within an ever-evolving history.

Time is fundamental to the work, chronicled in its rusting patina and in the hieroglyphs welded to the surface that recall the origins of the tower’s component parts. The evolving material reality of the construction also offers a deeper collective knowledge – the reminder of ongoing obsolescence that challenges our ideas of progress itself.

Based in Quebec City, Laurent Gagnon received a Master’s Degree in visual arts from Université Laval. Select exhibitions include Phare intérieur, L’Œil de poisson, Québec in 2004, CAFKA 05 x industria, Kitchener, 2005 and Répertoire des chaos, GRAVE, Victoriaville, in 2009. His work is featured in various public and private collections.


Scotia Plaza, South Forecourt, 40 King Street West

This project is outdoors.