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


DIVA 202 – Back to Skool…

January 7, 2009

Jeff Wall – Vancouver based photographer – featured on the cover of vanity fair (went to school with Ian)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeff_Wall
http://moma.org/exhibitions/2007/jeffwall/

Fungible – ability to take any piece of a production and send it overseas where it can be done faster and cheaper
Fungibility is the property of a good or a commodity whose individual units are capable of mutual substitution, where one unit of a commodity can be exchanged for another unit of the same commodity in the same quantity and grade. Examples of highly fungible commodities are crude oil, precious metals, and currencies.”

Damien Hirst ($230 million – sold directly to auction – subverted the gallery system)

– The asking price for For the Love of God (below) was £50,000,000 ($100 million or 75 million euros). It didn’t sell outright,[32] and on 30 August 2008 was sold to a consortium that included Hirst himself and his gallery White Cube.

In December 2008 Hirst threatened to sue a 16-year old boy for £200 because he incorporated pictures of For the Love of God into grafitti stenciles and sold them on the Internet.

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

Marcus Garvey
– “A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots.”

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

– What makes digital art history compelling is that it is as much shaped by science and technology as it is by traditional art history.

– Digital art history is thus inextricably linked to the industrial-military complex, research centres, as well as consumer culture and associated technologies.

Leonardo Da Vinci
– Drawing showing cannon trajectories over castle walls

Rear Admiral Grace Hopper (USNR 1906-1992)

– PhD in Math from Yale in 1934
– joined naval reserve in 1943 and assigned to bureau of ordinance
– went to work in UNIVAC (universal computer), and wrote the first compiler
– co-invented COBOL and gave us…
– photo # NH 96566-KN (First computer “bug” in 1945)
– found an actual moth in the relay tape for the computer

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

Dr. Vannevar Bush

– wrote “As we may think” – coordinated science to warfare
– build a computer back in 1929 – Differential Analyzer
– used the computer to design bouncing bombs used to destroy German dams during WWII
– envisioned a device called The Memex – basically an analog version of the PC, the web and google

– picture of the memex in LIFE magazine – circa 1945
– his essay predicted many technologies
“Wholly new forms of encyclopedias will appear, ready-made with a mesh of associative trails running through them, ready to be dropped in”
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vannevar_Bush
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/As_We_May_Think
Earth versus the flying Saucers

– Hollywood used the actual computer for this film
Marshall University Differential Analyzer

Claude Shannon


– one of Bush’s graduate students – known as the “Father of information theory”
– A Symbolic analysis of Relay and Switching
– introduced to George Boole’s algebra as an undergrad
– proved that boolean algebra and binary arithmetic could be used to simplify the electromechanical relays then used in telephone
– enabled engineers to transform circuits from analog to digital realm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Claude_Shannon

Theodor Nelson

– an American sociologist, philosopher, and pioneer of information technology. He coined the term “hypertext” in 1963 and published it in 1965. He also is credited with first use of the words hypermedia, transclusion, virtuality, intertwingularity and teledildonics. The main thrust of his work has been to make computers easily accessible to ordinary people. His motto is:

A user interface should be so simple that a beginner in an emergency can understand it within ten seconds.

– invented the words hypertext and hypermedia in 1961 – networked Docuverse

Douglas Englebart
– best known for inventing the computer mouse, as a pioneer of human-computer interaction whose team developed hypertext, networked computers, and precursors to GUIs; and as a committed and vocal proponent of the development and use of computers and networks to help cope with the world’s increasingly urgent and complex problems.

First computer Mouse

Early Macintosh Mice

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

Marcel Duchamp
Rotary Glass Plates, 1920

L.H.O.O.Q.

– found imagery and appropriate it – READYMADE
– precursor of digital art practice
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marcel_Duchamp
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L.H.O.O.Q.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Readymades_of_Marcel_Duchamp

FLUXUS ARTISTS
– a name taken from a Latin word meaning “to flow”—is an international network of artists, composers and designers noted for blending different artistic media and disciplines in the 1960s. They have been active in Neo-Dada noise music and visual art as well as literature, urban planning, architecture, and design. Fluxus is often described as intermedia, a term coined by Fluxus artist Dick Higgins in a famous 1966 essay.
– series of instructions to reach an event

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

John Cage

– pioneer of chance music, electronic music and non-standard use of musical instruments, Cage was one of the leading figures of the post-war avant-garde and, in the opinion of many, the most influential American composer of the 20th century
4′33″ (Four minutes, thirty-three seconds) – the sound was different wherever it was played because it was silence

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Cage
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/4%E2%80%B233%E2%80%B3

Grahame Weinbren

“The Digital Revolution is a Revolution of Random Access”
http://www.heise.de/tp/r4/artikel/6/6113/2.html
– Random Access is a basis for processing and assembling information
http://media.rmit.edu.au/students/projects/iiki/index.php/Grahame_Weinbren
http://www.yale.edu/dmca/dhtml/lectures99/weinbren.html

Sonata

– created by Grahame Weinbren, is an interactive narrative that is controllable by the viewer’s touch. The installation was exhibited internationally between the years of 1991 and 1999. Containing classical narratives of passion and violence by Tolstoy, Freud, and the Apocrypha, Sonata requests viewers to create their own narratives through interaction, and thus their own interpretations.

By touching the screen at any moment throughout the piece the viewer will affect the way the narrative continues. This includes viewing the narrative from a different perspective, superimposing future footage, or allowing a split-screen effect to show two different characters simultaneously.
http://media.rmit.edu.au/students/projects/iiki/index.php/Sonata

On Time

– one of the four short films produced for Garage Flicks. Directed by Ted Chung, with the screenplay by David Bradley Halls, and produced by Bianca Bodmer, Rich Ho Kok Tai, Elena Titova, and Vincent Schmitt. The credits also show their ‘Project mentor’ as Grahame Weinbren – his works, in my opinion, share similarities with the story of On Time. Sonata in particular as it experiments with future knowledge, just as On Time does.
http://media.rmit.edu.au/students/projects/iiki/index.php/On_Time

Howard Wise
EAI : Electronic Arts Intermix Funded by a number of American state agencies, federal agencies and organisations, Electronic Arts Intermix (EAI) was founded by Howard Wise in 1971 to support video art. It is a non profit making organisation. As well as video art, it now rents and sells audio, CDs, CD-ROMs and other interactive media works by artists. Web projects are also featured online. The searchable online catalogue includes artists’ biographies, descriptions of the works, QuickTime excerpts and ordering information. The website consists of an alphabetical list of authors and titles; a new artists / new titles section; audio and interactive media; selections from the video archive; streaming video, where excerpts of the video collection can be viewed; and a Resources section, which includes bibliographies and information about exhibitions and events. The Features section includes Web projects, which can be viewed online.
http://www.eai.org/eai/index.htm

John Whitney – CATALOG

– computer generated pictures in 1965 – used analog military computer equipment to create his short film CATALOG
demo reel of work created with his analog computer/film camera magic machine he built from a WWII anti-aircraft gun sight.
– Also Whitney and the techniques he developed with this machine were what inspired Douglas Trumbull (special fx wizard) to use the slit scan technique on 2001: A Space Odyssey


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Douglas_Trumbull
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slit-scan_photography

Slit-scan is an animation created image by image. Its principle is based upon the camera’s relative movement in relation to a light source, combined with a long exposure time. The process is as follows:

  1. An abstract colored design is painted on a transparent support
  2. This support is set down on the glass of a backlighting table and covered with an opaque masking into which one or more slits have been carved.
  3. The camera (placed high on top of a vertical ramp and decentered in relation to the light slits) takes a single photograph while moving down the ramp. The result: at the top of the ramp, when it is far away, the camera takes a rather precise picture of the light slit. This image gets progressively bigger and eventually shifts itself out of the frame. This produces a light trail, which meets up with the edge of the screen.
  4. These steps are repeated for each image, lightly peeling back the masking, which at the same time produces variation in colors as well as variation of the position of the light stream, thus creating the animation.

Naturally, this effect is very time-consuming, and thus expensive, to create. A 10-second sequence requires a minimum of 240 adjustments.

Billy Kluver
– art and science should colaborate
– was an electrical engineer at Bell Telephone Laboratories who founded Experiments in Art and Technology. Klüver lectured extensively on art and technology and social issues to be addressed by the technical community. He published numerous articles on these subjects.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Billy_Kluver
http://www.conceptlab.com/interviews/kluver.html

Techno Viking – original has now gone viral

World of Warcraft spoof

They’re taking the hobbits to Isengard techno spoof

http://technoviking.tv/

THIS IS SPARTA!

http://failblog.org/

THE ONION

– macbook wheel – the onion spoof
http://www.theonion.com/content/index

DIGITAL ART 2ND EDITION – CHRISTIANE PAUL

RED VS. BLUE

– Halo machinima movies

The Original Human Space Invaders Performance

– props to Julaluck (aka Bob) for finding this golden nugget!

MY SECOND LIFE
– created by Douglas Gayeton – hbo bought it for $6 million – Who is the Creator?
http://www.hbo.com/docs/programs/molotovalva/interview.html


Reading the Screen – class notes and film clips

October 17, 2008

Kanehsatake: 270 Years of Resistance – Trailer

Kanehsatake: 270 Years of Resistance – clip

In-class discussion:

mother earth – many women were interviewed – native culture had women in powerful positions in the tribe as opposed to european cultures

remarkable part of this film showed the canadian military in a negative light – where is the federal government in all of this crisis?
point of view is taken from the natives – she stayed with her people and moved with them the entire time – the lens was always from the mohawk perspective

talking heads and voice overs / staged or scripted?

subject-centred arguments / euphemematic – you get a lot more power of suggestion and widespread opinion

how did the film maker try to deal with euro-centric points of view?
– she did show both sides of view about the bridge
– interviewed the white male doctor who’s first reaction was anger, but who later changed his POV
– mayor of Oka is presented as cowardly and racist vs. the government we see in the native band
– showed the graveyard in the pines looking out at the golf course – camera pulled back and showed the native perspective of white encroachment

http://www.moma.org/exhibitions/film_exhibitions.php?id=8390

My Film Critique and Response:

I had the chance to view the film, “Kanehsatake: 270 Years of Resistance” over the weekend seeing as I had missed last week’s screening class. I have to say that I found the film to be a very interesting and engaging piece of film making as well as being a good social commentary on the Oka Crisis as a whole. It succeeded in bringing into perspective the plight of the Mohawk people over the past 270 years in their dealings with White Canadians, the Church in particular and how they had been cheated out of their land. Particular emphasis was placed on the Surete du Quebec and the Mayor of Oka as well who  should have rightfully have had an independent inquiry into their strong arm reactions before, during and after the crisis.

Where I do find fault however is in the film maker’s depiction of the Canadian Army. For better or for worse, I believe that the Federal Government made the correct decision to send the Canadian Army to secure the perimeter of the area and to allow both the Mohawks and Surete du Quebec to fall back to pre-established positions. As outsiders to the situation and not having faced the possibility of losing their land or having watched one of their comrades killed in the opening assault, I thought that they showed great restraint at the handling of the situation as a whole (other then the one incident when one of the Mohawks was beaten one night). As far as the comments made by some of the Mohawk warriors laughing at the sight of the soldiers installing barbed wire in the water, imagine being one of the Canadian Army officers trying to keep your men motivated and engaged during what was obviously a very stressful and trying situation. One of the basic tenants of any army is the fact that soldiers need to be constantly tested and kept active. Many an army officer has made his platoon of soldiers dig trenches one day to only cover them all up the very next day.

Another major flaw that I saw in the film was in the handling of then Prime Minister Brian Mulroney’s response to the crisis. As the ultimate Commander in Chief of the Canadian Army forces sent in to contain the situation, he is only seen in one brief clip complaining, “We will not be dictated by armed people, some of whom aren’t even Canadian.” The sentiment of that clip was taken completely out of context, and is shown as to refer to Mulroney’s belief that the Mohawks were not in fact Canadian citizens. The truth of the matter however, given the fact that I grew up during the crisis, is that Mulroney was in fact referring to American Mohawk warriors who had come across the border to join their Canadian tribesmen and were making their own demands as well. Which brings up my earlier point about the barbed wire in the lake; while the chances of weapons being delivered by boat was low, the goal of the drill was to stop the very remote possibility of weapons and other supplies from being delivered to the Treatment Centre over the lake, and also as a means to keep their soldiers active and engaged.

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DOCUMENTARY – these people, places do in fact exist and the viewer accepts the information on the basis of trust

MOCKUMENTARY – fake people, fake story line yet made to look legitimate

Films INSPIRED by a true story!!!

Categorical Documentary – to convey information about the world to audiences

Rhetorical Documentary – to present a persuasive argument, to persuade the audience to adopt an opinion about the subject and to act on that opinion

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compilation – images from archival footage
interviews – talking heads
direct cinema – cinema verite
nature
portrait
synthetic – uses several options
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VIEWER CENTERED ARGUMENT documentary

SOLUTION BASED documentary

“The River” – rhetorical film made in 1938 by the US Federal government as part of The New Deal by FDR to create jobs during the Depression
– the “problem of the land” – narrator speaks poetically rather then lecturing – emotional music to pull at your heart strings
– lot of close ups – intimate camera to get you close to the land

PROGRESS
– yankee doodle dandee music showing logging camps and rivers
– industry – power – might of the country
– reminds me of Soviet propaganda films
– wheat / cotton being loaded onto ships

DANGER
– new scene and new cringing music piece showing clear-cut forests
– “And sent it down the river…”
– water comes downhill and causes floods due to the lack of forests to absorb it
– dum dum dum dum dum = drip drip drip drip drip = raging floods now
– narrator’s voice is now booming to emphasize the poetry of his words
– air raid siren and fog horns go off – RIVER RISING!!!
– men, food, coast guard, medicine needed in every town up and down the rivers all over the country
– lists off the years that the major rivers flooded over their banks

THIN BLUE LINE – by Errol Morris

– 8 years after the murder, Errol Morris – convicted man ended up being freed – Randal Adams
– similar to Truman Capote’s, “In Cold Blood” although they were guilty then
– interview subjects look directly into the camera – up to the audience to decide if they are telling the truth or not
– does reanactments with actors which are beautifully shot (unlike TV ones)
– no old film footage, but uses old photographs, maps, graphs…
– no direct cinema, interviews only
– WHAT IS THE TRUTH HERE?
– audience is always watching and asked to participate
– uses an old feature film which is ridiculous but it works
– unconventional film score – looking for the truth – doesn’t relent

Dallas Law Enforcement interview
– woman officer was there when her partner was shot
– beautiful score -repeating notes of multiple violins and basses
– she is placed right in front of the police car – silhouetted and placed within the headlights
– she couldn’t remember the license plate number
– HC…HC…HC…HC
– blue vega with HC in the plate
– “you expect they would know more then they do” – police officer witness didn’t follow procedure
– speculation = she was sitting in the car drinking her milk shake – re-enactment of her throwing it out the window
– showed forensic diagram showing where the milkshake landed on the ground
– swinging watch – hypnotized her but she couldn’t remember any details but she remember a hit and run plate from earlier in the night

Large woman who was the defense attorney
– Mrs. Miller – THAT’S THE MAN – I SAW THE GUN STICKING OUT OF THE CAR!!!!!
– she’s the one who got him convicted – butt ugly woman with bad blond hair
– jesus she sounds like a dumb shit or at least somewhat mentally retarded
– “Too nosey to know what’s going on”
– by her own admission it was dark within the car, so how could she have gotten such a good look at him?
– “She’s a ho”

LONELY BOY – movie about Paul Anka


The Diceman Cometh…

October 2, 2008

“This next gentleman comes from Brooklyn…and the best way to describe him is that he is the typical boy next door. Say hello to Andrew ‘Dice’ Clay”

WARNING – DO NOT CLICK PLAY IF YOU ARE EASILY OFFENDED!!!


Pink Floyd – The Wall

September 23, 2008
Pink Floyd - The Wall

Pink Floyd - The Wall

I first tried to watch, “Pink Floyd – The Wall” back in grade 8 or 9, but I simply couldn’t get into the music at the time as I found it too much to take in at the time. It wasn’t until after my mom passed away back in 1994, that I gave the film and the music another shot and I was simply awestruck by the spectacle of the film and the power that the music had over me.

Like the fictional character Pink, I had experienced personal madness myself the day my mom passed away and had to choose to view her body at the cancer clinic in Vancouver. As I walked into the room, I dropped to the floor and lost complete control over my emotions and wailed like a baby for God knows how long. So you can understand how I was drawn to the themes in the film and the music that reside within the songs from Pink Floyd.

Here are 4 songs/scenes from the film that are particularly memorable for me along with the accompanying animations by Gerald Scarfe:

Mother

Empty Spaces

Goodbye Blue Sky

Comfortably Numb