My Personal Journey

April 9, 2009
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For my Video Art class at Emily Carr, I decided to move forward with the “Personal Journeys” project and so I went ahead and recorded the story of the day my mom died from ovarian cancer in 1994 and the Journey that I and my family went through that day and made a video about it. I published it on YouTube last night and wanted to share it with all of you:
– FlashAddict

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John DeVeaux is a second year Film, Video and Integrated Media student at the Emily Carr University of Art + Design in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

Classifying himself as a Digital Artist with future aspirations to work in either the film or video game industry, his work focuses on combining a wide range of media including crowd sourcing, data capture, film/video, installation, storytelling and web based material.

My Personal Journey tells the story of the day John’s mother died from ovarian cancer in 1994 and features the artist providing a solitary monologue over a black screen with white text providing an ongoing narrative, as he describes the mental images that haunt him to this day.

Inspiration for this video comes from Derek Jarman’s film, Blue, which showcases the director looking back on his life as he was losing his sight and dying from AIDS. The film is 79 minutes in length and features a single shot of saturated blue covering the entire frame of the screen.

My Personal Journey is also part of an ongoing digital art project dealing with personal storylines about significant or memorable Journeys in peoples respective lives and can be viewed at:

http://personaljourneys.wordpress.com

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The Personal Journeys blog is now active

March 10, 2009

Hello again everyone,

I wanted to take this opportunity to invite everyone to check out the Personal Journeys Blog that was publicly unveiled and launched earlier today for my Digital Interactive Arts class at Emily Carr. Everyone was very interested in reading about the stories that people submitted to the art project and would like to extend my deepest thanks to everyone who submitted their stories.

This is not the end of the project however, and I will be working with several faculty at school in pushing the project further over the summer. For those of you who wanted to participate, but haven’t had a chance to write up your stories, don’t fret because you still have the chance to send them in and I will put them up on the blog as they arrive.

Furthermore, two other avenues for the project that I would like to explore are to setup a venue at the Athlete’s Village for 2010 Winter Olympics, which I had previously mentioned; but the most important one to my heart is to contact the BC Cancer Foundation and see if they would like to work together in recording and documenting the Journeys of Cancer patients currently going through radiation treatment and chemotherapy as well as the stories from their families.

I will be contacting them tomorrow to look into the feasibility of this project as well as starting to piece together a video which recounts the details of My Personal Journey, which I wrote about January 28th, 1994, the day my mother died from ovarian cancer at the BC Cancer Clinic in Vancouver. I will keep you guys posted on how both of those progress.

So without further ado, here is the link to the blog:

http://personaljourneys.wordpress.com/

Read through the Journeys, click on the links to view the maps and also look at the Visual Journeys section of the blog to see other outcomes that I developed as well.

Sincerely,

John DeVeaux


Future outcomes for the Personal Journeys project…

February 10, 2009

Hello everyone,

I wanted to take this opportunity to once again thank you all for participating in the Personal Journeys art project. The stories that I received from have been heartwarming, inspiring and tragic at the same time. For those of you who have not submitted their stories yet, there is still time to send it in as I am now in the process of compiling the information together. Furthermore, if anyone in the group has reservations about me publishing their names in the final piece, please let me know and I will post your story as anonymous.

To that end, the final piece will be presented to the public a month from now and will be displayed in a blog that I am creating, but I do not see that as the end of this process. My mind is simply on fire with ideas about how to push the envelope of this project further and further. We here at Emily Carr and the entire city for that matter on the verge of a once in a lifetime opportunity because one year from now, the eyes of the entire world will be focused on Vancouver for 16 straight days when the 2010 Winter Olympics begin.

What if we went to the Vancouver Olympic Committee and setup within the athlete’s village to record and document the Personal Journeys that each athlete had to go through in order to make it here to Vancouver. What a wonderful gift that would be to share not only within the village, but to the world as a whole.

Here are some other future project avenues that could be explored:

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>>> To be done for the in-class presentation <<<

1a. Create a blog to document, list and display incoming Journey stories along with the associated graphical line plots – to be then presented to the class and to outside viewers who are invited to participate virtually.

1b. Enlarge and print a few selected Journey stories and graphical line plots and put them on display for the class when the project is presented and possibly the school gallery at the annual student exhibition in the spring.

>>> Pitched the idea to several Emily Carr administration and faculty last week – waiting for results and will followup <<<

2a. Actively seek Emily Carr participation from an administrative level to fund, market or otherwise advance the project to greater reception and accessibility.

2b. Form a team of 3 to 4 dedicated Emily Carr students to go on a road trip to recreate select Journeys in order to document them and in the process request school administration to setup a self-directed co-op program so participating students can get school credits. Outside corporate sponsors in the region could be located to help fund the endeavour and the project scope can be expanded to create a documentary film, book, website or other type of media device.

2c. This team of students would interview the original Journey authors and document the sights, encounters, people, places and otherwise meaningful moments along the Journey. In addition, this team of student artists would cover a wide range of talents and disciplines in order to provide a greater canvas to document the process and scope of the Journeys (ie: Photographer, Videographer, Musician, Writer, Digital Artist…) Each member would add their own unique flavour to the project and allow for inspiration from the Journey itself to drive their own personal art and life experience gained as a result.

2d. Select Journey stories and graphical line plots can be enlarged, printed and put on display in major art galleries, providing greater exposure to the original and subsequent documentary projects. Journey authors could be invited to give guest lectures on their respective Journeys and input kiosks could be installed in galleries to allow viewers to enter their own Journeys and graphical line plots into the database as well, after being inspired from reading of the Journeys of others.

>>> Future possibilities down the road <<<

3a. Pitch the Google Journeys idea directly to Google themselves – seeing as though they have a tremendous budget to work from and http://maps.google.com/  only provides a singular and not immediately meaningful attachment to the graphical line segment produced by the mapping software (ie: it creates a graphical representation of a Trip, not a Journey and certainly not one that is easily linked to others) – whereas if both Google and we as artists could create an immense database of Collective Journeys for people to read through and visualize graphically and tied into other similarly meaningful Journeys.

3b. Google Journeys could become a living and breathing Artwork existing purely on a virtual level and being on display to people around the world 24/7 while constantly being added to and upgraded. Participants would continue to add their own Journeys to the existing project whole and the graphical line would get bigger and bigger. Visual representation of the immense Collective of Journeys could be displayed in real-time as either 2d or 3d display.

3c. Visitors to the Google Journeys website could browse through the database to look up individual Journeys or run searches based on input parameters. As mentioned above, the tree branch analogy is a fitting one, seeing as how jagged and random the waypoints turn the graphical line plot every which way. Individual or select group Journeys could display as being colour coded and then zoomed in on in the 3d display of the Great Tree Branch, where the viewer could then click on and then bring up the author’s individual Journey story.

3d. Similar to a blog setup, visitors could then leave comments for the Journey’s original author and a global dialog could be achieved along with new friendships and greater understanding for one another. Authors and visitors alike could formulate new Journey plans amongst themselves – Shared databases between Google Journeys and Google Video could be extrapolated and linked in order to provide video responses to individual Journeys – the project could become viral in its outcome and scope.

3e. The inherent search engine and search results would provide local companies, hotels, and travel services to be immediately directed to those particular areas covered in the Journey display, allowing ease of use in planning not just a regular trip, but a Journey of your own.

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There you go – these are the thoughts racing through my mind on how to expand this project further so let me know what you think of these options and let’s see how far we can push this because the sky is limit!

Sincerely,

John DeVeaux


My Personal Journey…

January 28, 2009

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Given the significance that today’s date holds for me personally, I would like to share with you the Journey that has most affected my life in so many ways…
– FlashAddict

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On January 28th, 1994, I was suddenly woken up at around 4:30 am by my father. Without my glasses on, my mind still groggy and with the hallway light silhouetting him from behind, my father said the following words to me, “Mom is dying…”

I was 18 years old at the time, in first year at college, yet all that I could mutter in response was, “Noooooooo…” When I think back to that moment, I felt as weak as a child and completely helpless to do anything. We had known since mid-October when my mom was diagnosed with ovarian cancer that this might be the eventual outcome, but until that moment arrives, you live in a bubble, unwilling to accept the truth.

My father and I were the only ones in the house at the time, seeing as though my sister had moved out a few months before and my brother was on Vancouver Island, having flown a courier run during the night from Vancouver to Victoria. I quickly got dressed and my father called both my sister and our good family friend Jan Rutledge (who had recently lost her own father a few months before) and told them to come up to the house as quickly as possible.

In the half hour or so that my father and I waited for them to arrive, the BC Cancer Clinic had called again to say that my mother had passed away. I asked Jan what to do at that point and she told me that I would have to decide whether to see my mother’s body or not. She told me that when her father died, she chose not to view the body, yet something inside me pushed me to go as this might be the last chance that I would have to spend time with my mother (in an ethereal sense mind you).

My sister finally arrived and my father had gotten a hold of my brother in Victoria as well – he would be flying over to Vancouver as soon as possible and asked my father to pick him up at the airport, while my sister and I drove to the Cancer Clinic together. As we drove into Vancouver, the morning scenery was simply breathtaking – the sun was starting to rise over the mountains in the east with not a single cloud in the sky. It’s weird how you notice details like that in the face of such tragedy, yet that sunrise was the most vibrant and beautiful sunrise I had ever seen in my life.

When my sister and I arrived at the clinic, we walked up together and met the nurses at the station outside my mother’s room. They tried their best to comfort us, but I simply didn’t know how to feel or react at that point, I was just in a kind of sick limbo. They led us to her room and my sister decided to go in first while I waited outside. I stood there feeling like a fool, not knowing what to do or what to say and then after about 15 minutes or so, my sister came out – eyes bloodshot and teary. I gave her a hug and tried to console her as best I could. One of the nurses led her to a “family room” that they have set aside for families to grieve in situations like the one my own was going through and then it was just me left standing there – do I go in or not?

I took a deep breath and slowly opened the door and walked around the corner of the room. There lying motionless, face locked and eyes glazed over was my mom. As soon as I saw her, my body went numb, my legs buckled and I collapsed to the floor. I wailed and cried like an infant for God knows how long – I simply don’t know because during that moment, I went insane. I lost complete control of my emotions and concept of time or reality.

After what I think was about 20 minutes or so, I slowly regained my composure and crawled up the wall so that I could stand up. I then walked over to the bed and I reached out to touch her, but something inside me said, “No, that isn’t your mom anymore,” so I retracted my hand and gazed at her one last time. I could see that her eyes were starting to turn white and that her jaw was locked open and so I decided that I had seen enough. It was this final and brutal dose of reality that finally made me realize and accept the fact that my mother was dead that allowed me leave the room.

As I closed the door, I saw that my father and brother had just arrived and they were talking to my mother’s doctor who had also just arrived. As they walked into my mother’s room, the nurses saw that I was very much emotionally drained and on the verge of collapsing again and went and brought a chair for me to sit on outside in the hallway. The doctor came up to me and tried to offer words of comfort to me but I couldn’t say a word. I just sat there motionless, looking him right in the eyes, all the while my mind was screaming, “YOU LET MY MOTHER DIE!!!!!!!!” After a minute or two, he realized that I was not in the mood to be comforted and went inside to talk to my father and brother. Then after awhile, I regained some of my composure and left so that I could go to the family room and try to comfort my sister.

It was during this time that I called two close friends of both myself and my mother, Leslie Abramson and Caroline Porter (I am also friends with her son Andrew). Leslie is the co-owner of a flower shop in Tsawwassen where I used to work at and was also a long time political ally and friend of my mother’s. Tragically, she had also lost her own son just a few months beforehand and knew the pain that I was feeling. She told me to call the local funeral home and make arrangements for them to come and collect my mother’s body. Caroline was equally as shocked as Leslie to hear that my mother had died and also helped me during that most desperate of times.

After about another 20 to 30 minutes my father and brother emerged from the hospital room where my mother was lying and we came together as a family to try and comfort one another. We decided to drive back to the family home in Tsawwassen to grieve together and to try and come to terms with what had happened. Whereas I drove my sister’s jeep to the clinic in Vancouver, I was still in such a state of shock that I asked my sister to drive us home.

Throughout the entire drive back home though, I kept thinking just how vibrant the sun, the trees, the mountains and everything around me looked and I have never before nor since seen such a beautiful sky.

http://maps.google.com/maps?f=d&source=s_d&saddr=1076+walalee+drive,+south+delta,+bc&daddr=600+10th+Avenue+West,+Vancouver,+BC+V5Z+4E6,+Canada+(BC+Cancer+Agency)&hl=en&geocode=%3BFbqu7wId5l-p-CGhpEzc3GvnyA&mra=ls&sll=49.140843,-123.091507&sspn=0.413716,1.057434&ie=UTF8&z=11


No more Facebook Friend Requests…

January 28, 2009

I received the following email from Facebook today:

Our systems indicate that you’ve been misusing certain features on the site. This email serves as a warning. Misuse of Facebook’s features or violating Facebook’s terms of use may result in your account being disabled . Thanks in advance for your understanding and cooperation.

If you have any questions, please contact warning@facebook.com from your login email address.

The Facebook Team

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I guess that means that I will stop sending out any further Friend Requests for this project. Why was I sending out so many you might ask? Well, I wanted this art piece to become part of a greater movement, similar in scope to that of an ARG (Alternate Reality Game):

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alternate_reality_game

Whereas by sending out Friend Requests to strangers (albeit fellow Emily Carr students, allumni and staff), I wanted to create a rabbit hole for people to jump down into – think of Alice in Wonderland – and I wanted to have active participants. I want people to take a chance and peel back the layers to see what is inside not only this project, but what is inside themselves as well and to tell me what they find by writing down and mapping out their Personal Journey.


What this project means to me…

January 19, 2009

As I was driving up Burnaby mountain yesterday, I was trying to think of the best way to showcase what my main intent of the project and the fact that everyone has a story – whether it be good, bad, heartfelt, scary, horrifying, uplifting…and the thing that came to my mind that could best exemplify this thought was the movie, “Bowling for Columbine.”

There is a scene where Michael Moore interviews shock-rocker Marilyn Manson and why the power structure and media in the United States held him responsible for the terrible tragedy that happened in Columbine. The most poignant part of this scene and the entire film for that matter was when Michael asked Marilyn what he would say to the Columbine kids if they were there right now. His response, “I wouldn’t say a single word to them – I would listen to what they have to say and that’s what no one did…”

Everyone wants to tell their story to someone and I am here to listen.

FlashAddict


Blocked by Facebook – Personal Journeys – Help John with his Art Project

January 17, 2009

Hello everyone,

Well, I guess the automated powers that be at Facebook have blocked me from sending out anymore Friend Requests to fellow Emily Carr University students/faculty/associates linked in to the school groups that can be found when you do a search. I can understand why they have such automated features, but it’s frustrating to be lopped into the same category as spammers, phishers or other types of crooks.

Because of this, I am asking for your help. If you feel that this project has merit and is worth the effort to bring in others to tell their stories as well, I would like to ask you to invite your friends to join the event. The future of this project is now in your hands as I cannot do it without you. Please help me in seeing this project become a reality because it means so much to me and I know that it means a great deal to you as well.

Sincerely,

John DeVeaux

– Here is the link to the Facebook event page -Personal Journeys – Help John with his Art Project

http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=46093168338

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As a gift to everyone, please go to:

https://flashaddict.wordpress.com/2009/01/15/shot-by-shot-analysis-of-the-music-video-glosoli-by-sigur-ros/

The lyrics are sung in Icelandic, yet one need not know what the words mean in order to interpret the value and depth that they and the imagery convey. I actually don’t want to know what the lyrics translate to in English because it would take away the beauty and serenity that I found interpreting it myself.

Enjoy!

Instructions:
1. Watch the full video without pause to understand the essence of the piece.

2. Read through my shot-by-shot written breakdown.

3. Watch the video again and take in a new personal understanding of the imagery.

4. Rewind and go back to individual shots and if you feel inspired, write down what they mean to you and compare them to mine.

5. Smile and feel a sense of peace = All will be OK.

John

Please be kind to my film terminology – there were so many terms that we learned last semester, that it was a bit of information overload and I may have mixed some up 🙂

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PS After spending 15 minutes trying to find out how to actually send an email to Facebook customer service, I sent them the following letter asking for their help as well:

To whom it may concern,

I was just recently blocked from sending friend requests on Facebook. As a result of that, I felt it would be prudent that I send you an email to let you know that I am not some dirty old man trying to prey on young children, nor am I a nefarious crook trying to swindle little old ladies out of their life savings.

I understand that you guys have to have set TOS standards and I know why I was tacked onto the list of possible spammers/crooks by sending friend requests. I have been in your shoes as I have worked many customer service gigs, most importantly when I worked for eBay in their investigations department and had to respond to complaints sent in my members about other members, with spam being one of the biggest issues reported.

That being said however, I am just an aspiring art student struck by inspiration and in the process of trying to invite people to join my Art Project as I feel that it is a great event to participate in. I am not trying to sell anything, I am just asking people to share their stories with me and am sending Friend Requests to my fellow art students and art enthusiasts (people who would want to participate in such an event). I’m not asking for much here, but please check out my event page and see for yourself “Personal Journeys – Help John with his Art Project.” I’m not a bad guy, I’m just trying to create a beautiful piece of art and to allow people to tell others their story.

Please let me know where I can go from here – I need your help.

Sincerely,

John DeVeaux