Last night, Laurie Anderson gave a concert at the Perimeter Institute. Much to my surprise, I was able to go [1] and so I offer this brief review.

I guess the atrium of the Perimeter Institute has improved a bit since the first concert I saw there, the Bang on a Can All-Stars, which featured very uncomfortable lawn chairs. This, this concert had real hard-back chairs. Not that I got to sit on one- I had a standing-room ticket, upstairs. Mezzanine. The whole 2nd floor was open, and there were only 40 standing-room tickets, so we each got a fair bit of space to ourselves.

Pluses: Unobstructed view: at the beginning I was standing less than 10 feet from Laurie Anderson. Straight up.
Minuses: We weren't allowed to lean on the glass railing, which I kept forgetting. And the top of a performer's head turns out to not be as exciting as seeing the front of her face. Also, I saw her glance upward once and realized it might actually be disconcerting to have audience perched just over-top of oneself.

So I moved back to 20 feet away, where I stayed for the rest of the show. It wasn't bad, even standing, and there was lots of room for me to sit on the floor, which I did for a while.

The acoustics were fine; possibly slightly less amplified, but that wasn't a problem. Fortunately, I also didn't find there were any annoying echoes in the big space.

The concert was 90 minutes. She started with her signature pitch-bended electric violin (which in the late 70's was a "tape bow violin"- with recorded magnetic tape as the bow, and a magnetic tape head as the bridge; though I don't expect that's still how it works). She alternated between instrumental-only pieces, some which I liked quite a lot, and spoken-word over instrumental and keyboard loops. Some of her spoken-word was pitch-bended into her trademark growling bass voice, which she has called audio drag or "the Voice of Authority." That voice matched her appearance- she was dressed up way butch, with spiky hair, a thin tie and dark suit, though the Voice didn't really say things of much authority- and she had a perfectly commanding presence with her own voice.

Lighting was quite dark: there were mood lights of various primary colours, and candles on the stage. She told stories. Very modern stories, simply told, many of them compelling, though I didn't feel like they hung together as a whole (more on that at the end). This is apparently the start of a new tour, "Another Day in America," which started last week in Calgary, and we were lucky enough to be the second city on the tour. I imagine it will evolve as it goes.

She spoke about the National Defense Authorization Act which Obama just signed on New Years Eve, which allows indefinite detention without trial of American citizens in military prisons. She noted that this piece of law centers on a redefinition of "battleground" to include all of the United States. And what does it mean to choose to bring the battleground to one's home? "We've been waiting a couple hundred years for the enemy to show up, and since they never did, we decided maybe it’s us."

She spoke about how annoyed Darwin had been with peacocks- "what could possibly be fittest about a giant bright blue tail?" and jumps to how the Catholic church has been afraid of science- and what if the Church was most afraid that we'd find many worlds, with other popes? Which pope would be the real pope? Perhaps one with the brightest, bluest tail?

She told about visiting one of the many tent-cities in the US which started during the housing crisis, which collectively have housed thousands of Americans over the last years. I have to say I thought she'd veered to the fictional, but google and wikipedia tell me the camp she visited is exactly as described.

Her beloved rat-terrier Lolabelle died this spring, on Palm Sunday; she told how the Tibetian Book of the Dead says when a living being dies, it will spend 49 days in a place called the Bardo, before it is reincarnated. And Lolabelle died 49 days before Anderson's birthday. She goes on to say that when Lolabelle went blind a few years ago, Anderson began teaching her to play the piano, and to paint; and then she shared a dozen of Lolabelle's paintings, and a video of her playing the keyboard (wagging, and barking in joy as she did so).

The last time I saw her, in Ithaca in 2006, she had just spent time as NASA's first (and last) Artist in Residence. She also had stories about Lolabelle, one which has stuck with me, about a walk in the woods when a hawk dive-bombs them and the dog realizes there's 180 degrees of the world she had never imagined could be dangerous- which turns into a parallel story about the US post-9/11. Really sharp stuff.

So, on the whole. I wish this concert had tied together more. I could feel the authority with which she was speaking, and maybe it's up to the listener to pull things together, but the way it was structured, I didn't find myself able to do so during the concert. Perhaps some of that pulling together can happen when I'm in Quaker Meeting this weekend.

I'm quite glad the PI was able to get her here- they have been trying for years. Perhaps she will be back! I would not mind that, no.

[1] So, how I got a ticket. If you are allergic to twitter, you won't want to read this. Just sayin'.

I found out about the concert from someone tweeting about it on Monday. I tweeted an "Aw, how come I just found out about this sold-out show?" After a bit of whinging to friends, I forgot about it. I had a faint hope to show up at the venue and see if there were unclaimed tickets.

But on Wednesday evening, I checked twitter and noticed somebody I didn't know had specifically sent me a message asking if I needed a ticket. I replied, but it had been 6 hours after he had asked, and he had also gotten re-tweeted by the Perimeter when he previously if anybody needed a ticket. ... and yet, somehow, nobody had; all of his friends who would have jumped at the chance lived in Toronto or New York or elsewhere. So Thursday morning, he came to my office and sold me his ticket at-cost! How cool is that?
Yesterday, I woke up a bit early, determined that Snowpocalypse had not closed our university, got ready for work and spent some time with d., who was leaving for a conference [1], hiked through the snow to the nearest express bus, with a quick detour to pick up a chunk of smoked salmon for my breakfast bagels, just caught the bus, and made it to work in excellent time.

At which point I discovered that the salmon, which I had already noticed smelling awesome, also transferred some of that awesome smell to my gloves and the coat-pocket I had briefly put the salmon bag into.

Which happened to also contain my gym shorts, because on Wednesday I had a physio appointment and she wanted me to wear shorts.

And after work, I bussed downtown to the Art Gallery, which was hosting a Groundhog Day party [2], and in answering email from someone suggesting I pack earplugs for Thursday night's concert, I was pleased to reply that I did have earplugs on me; in fact they were in the pocket containing the smoked salmon, not the pocket with my gym shorts (as I had put the salmon in the other pocket, while I was putting on my gloves).

[1] in Florida, and I'm happy he made it, because it would be awful and ironic to miss a February trip to Florida because of a snowstorm. [3]

[2] Have you ever gone to a Groundhog Day party? Me neither, figured I would check it out. Plus, catered reception, and free visit to the art gallery, which I hadn't visited in a few years.

[3] even a work trip.
[livejournal.com profile] melted_snowball, on reporting that Tampa is under windchill warning because it will feel like 35ºF, says he thinks this is cute.

I say, what is *really* cute, is all the workers I imagine out there rushing to put Snuggies™ on the fruit trees.

On reflection, wouldn't that make an amazing Christo-like art piece? A field of trees, each with a leopard- or zebra-patterned Snuggie™ flapping in the breeze?

Googling the subject tells me of course the Japanese already thought of it, at least with straw wraps and windblocks.

One of the photos on that page, the entirely wrapped trees, look suspiciously like some of the Chihuly sculptures that dan, Tom, and I saw this afternoon in St. Pete.
I just got out of Exit Through the Gift Shop, a movie about graffiti street-art, and a well done mockumentary.

Supposedly, it started as an amateur videographer's quest to film the biggest street artists, and as the project spiraled, then turned into a documentary about Thierry Guetta, the videographer, now known as "Mr. Brainwash" and his rise to commercial success making pop/street art with an army of illustrators hired through Craigslist. How he copied all of the strategies of the people he filmed, and finding great commercial success despite having no talent of his own. How the "real" artists are left wondering whether the joke was entirely on them. The punchline interviews at the end when they bitterly distanced themselves from their supposed friend, seeming a bit petty, and trying to make sense of how he made millions with his ripoffs (and a lot of their hard work).

My only complaint was that it got slow at the 1-hour mark, though they picked it up a bit when the supposed videographer filmed Banksy installing a protest against Guantanamo Bay prison inside Disneyland. Which did happen.

Indeed, lots of the events in the movie did happen- only many of them were engineered for the movie. Financed somehow, and with some actor to play Thierry Guetta.

updatey thing

Tuesday, 27 October 2009 11:14 pm
The last week has seen me:

* startle Neil Stephenson [1]
* have an annoying contact lens incident [2]
* apply the necessary teachable-moment to a kid outside my workplace who was messing around with my bike when I left the office
* meet Stewart Brand
* watch a superconducting toy train, a sort-of real quantum computer and a really pretty 3-d movie which was narrated by Stephen Hawking [3]
* document the activities of the zombies at City Hall. Well, the zombies attracted to City Hall by a certain video. This was surprisingly fun.
* play with a working reprap, a supposedly self-replicating machine. [4]
* be part of creating and solving various problems; technical, social; problems of planning and problems of execution. Be pleased with some outcomes. Be exhausted at work, but not too exhausted.
* see [livejournal.com profile] melted_snowball off on his trip to Japan. Missing him a lot.
* not get enough sleep. Not get the rounds of bugs that are sweeping my workplace. Now if I can just get my flu shots before I have any flu symptoms, I'll be even happier.
* feel simultaneously lonely and not like talking to people. Sometimes I wish I were wired to be more social.
* spending quality time with Rover.

[1] I saw Neil Stephenson speak twice last week; afterwards, I thanked him for providing fun role-models for geeky people everywhere. I offered that I was occasionally inspired by Sangemon, the "hero" of Zodiac, whose style of bicycling in Boston traffic was over-the-top assertive. Neil looked a bit nervous at this- "I hope you do that safely." I laughed. Anyway, he was very polite.

[2] on second thought, I won't describe it. Not fun. [5]

[3] The toy train zoomed around a magnetic track. The "train" contained a super-chilled magnet and it was propelled by a shove from the demo-guy. The "quantum computer" was very poorly explained by a volunteer docent but it had an oscilloscope readout with a squiggle. And a plexiglass and metal assembly. Sorry, but that's all I got. I found my favourite part of the video, animated by NCSA - flying from the western spiral arm to the center of our galaxy. This was the most effective use of 3D I've yet seen.

[4] This evening I went off to the local nascent "hack lab" (clubhouse for tinkerers, more or less). I brought my arduino and stepper-motor. But I spent a lot of the time there socializing, playing with other peoples' toys [6], and such. It's a cool space, and my life isn't compatible with spending much time there, but I'm glad to see it exists.

[5] but my optometrist's office is 5 minutes walk from my office; and they gave me a new lens to replace the one that was stuck in my eye. Oops, I wasn't going to describe it. Well there you go.

[6] the reprap was a surprise to see in person- by the end of the evening, it was working, and it did "print" a plastic part used to make itself. Re-reading reprap.org, I had forgotten they only produce 60% of their own parts- yes it's a toy, but it's a fairly cool toy.

I'm missing some stuff in this update, but that's what I get for not posting frequently enough.
da: (bit)
Check out the video for a new painting and sketching app for the iPhone/Touch. Very neat looking. It's got: infinite zoom (vector graphics), free rotation, a clever palette, and brushes that seem to work very much like real brushes (blending, washes, translucency.)

If I had an iPhone, I would be all over it, even though I, um, don't really draw; and not just because I know the author. Who happens to have an art studio in town AND a long history with writing software for artists. So I know the next version of Paintbook is going be even more sophisticated.

Anyhow, happy Monday!

Ada Lovelace Day

Tuesday, 24 March 2009 10:07 pm
So, on Ada Lovelace Day we're asked to blog about women in IT who we admire. I can do this. The tricky part is choosing only one, 'cause I know a lot of women with technical chops. So I'll go back a bit.

Carol Kinne is an artist, emeritus professor at Colgate College in NY, and graphic designer. She's my father's first cousin, and she was a major influence on my choice of what directions I took my computer exploration in high-school. She was the first person I knew with a Commodore Amiga, and she made some sophisticated 2- and 3-d art with it.

In my recollection, she also basically dragged my uncle, parents, and myself onto a sort-of Bulletin Board system we called "AllenNet," hosted on my uncle's email server (via dialup through his employer- they gave him an 800 number to check his email- and we used it to keep in weekly (or so) touch, in the late 80s. Fun times.

Last I heard she was exhibiting in Paris and co-presenting a movie in New York with her partner, Bob.

She's also raised award-winning Samoyed dogs since I was little, and running a Samoyed rescue club for ages.

I've fallen out of touch, recently, but I still think she's been a strongly positive influence on me, and I expect a number of other people as well.

Ni Pena Ni Miedo

Tuesday, 20 January 2009 08:44 am
In Pinochet's Chile, a poet held and tortured in the dictator's jails named Raúl Zurita imagined "writing poems in the sky, on the faces of cliffs, in the desert."

In 1993, this poem was etched into a mountain-base: Ni Pena Ni Miedo.

No shame nor fear.

It is three kilometers long. If you zoom in on the google map in that link, you can the attention to detail. The desert has been reclaiming the field, just as the thousands of victims of Pinochet were disappeared.

But it is said that every Sunday the children of the nearest village go out with shovels and turn the dirt inside the letters to refresh them. My mind is boggled at the scale of this.

(I originally saw this on Google Sightseeing; there was more info in their links, and more also in the translation translation of his wp page here.)

Happy Inauguration Day, everyone.

weekend wrapup

Monday, 27 October 2008 01:55 pm
It was a good weekend.

Not too social, not to solitary.

I did some doing, did some thinking.

Plusses and minuses:

+ getting some human-interface issues thought out.
+ following a long chain of "what-if..." to come up with a good idea for an addition to software I use
+ making steps forward on a few non-work projects, with clear(er) next steps.
    -- ignoring one project for months
+ seeing 12 Angry Men with [livejournal.com profile] chezmax & [livejournal.com profile] the_infamous_j
    + great show
+ Art Walk- bought stained glass from [livejournal.com profile] quingawaga for the office
+ [livejournal.com profile] melted_snowball, just 'cause.
+ good Quaker Meeting. I spent some of the Meeting considering whether I'm still led to keep working on a project. The answer's "yes, but..."
- Public Library is closed until 1pm on Sundays. F, WT?
+ dim sum with [livejournal.com profile] bats22, [livejournal.com profile] melted_snowball, [livejournal.com profile] the_infamous_j & [livejournal.com profile] chezmax. 12 dishes was exactly right. (mmmm turnip-cake.)
+ [livejournal.com profile] bats22 as houseguest
+ afternoon watching [livejournal.com profile] melted_snowball & [livejournal.com profile] bats22 in the kitchen
    + apple pie
    + roast veggies and squash soup and excellent company
+ dog walk
    -/+ surprise hail?! Those were big pellets!
- wet hair on cold mornings
- waiting for MEC order to arrive
Wow. 19 photos by London photographer Jason Hawkes, shot from a helicopter with gyro-stabilized mounts...

http://www.boston.com/bigpicture/2008/08/london_from_above_at_night.html



The photographer's site is pretty spectactular.

There's a BBC video about the making of the "London at Night" series (linked on the front page) but it's limited to UK viewers- maybe somebody over there can let us know whether the video's any good!

Firenze

Tuesday, 15 April 2008 09:50 pm
Thursday morning was a blur of Rome airport, Pisa airport, bus to Florence, walk to hotel (bump bump on cobblestone streets), dinner at hotel, crash thud.

We saw the leaning tower of Pisa from the air, which was special.

Florence made me happy, once we woke up on Friday and started being tourists. We walked around il Duomo, the largest cathedral dome I've probably seen. The inside of the cathedral was... gloomy, though the crypt was fairly cool. Over the last 40 years they've excavated older architecture, including an ancient Christian road and Roman-era houses. There were lots of gravestones and an unlabeled but sort of exciting little room containing a few skulls. After il Duomo, we visited Dante's house (closed) and his church (very small and gloomy). But there was a busker performing from The Divine Comedy, looking fairly devilish if I do say so. We found our way to Ponte Vecchio, the only medieval bridge that survived the German bombing in WWII, which is covered in jewelry markets leaning out over the water on stilts. We later learned that the top floor of the bridge is actually a still-extant passage from one palace a few km down-river, to the major art museum, the Uffizi. That's sort of cool.

We held off seeing the Uffizi until later in the afternoon (our hotel had gotten us a guided tour- which we could afford, and allowed us to skip a 2-hour line for museum tickets, so we did it- and can I put in a word for hotels with concierges? Thank you.) and met up with dan's parents for lunch.

Afterward, d. and I split up; I was going to try and see the crypt under Palazzo Vecchio (another museum/palace), though the crypt wasn't where dan's mom thought it had been, so I wandered the first floor of the palace. The Piazza there has a great collection of statuary, including the famous "fake" Michaelangelo's David, a rather large fountain to Neptune, and Perseus With the Head of Medusa.

We met up and had our guided tour of the Uffizi. And that was quite the amazing collection- I will admit to becoming a bit jaded by the end, when I was rushing to see their three Caravaggios before closing time. It is true that one can see only so much portraiture and Mary and naked Jesuses; so I skipped a few rooms where I didn't recognize a single artist. I'm glad we spent the time and money for the tour. The story, apparently, is that this was one of the first museums outside someone's home; it was put on the top floor of the Office Building for the Incorporated City of Firenze, in the 1500s. It has kept the collections of the Medici family since they were the most powerful in Italy, and added a fair number since as well, eventually one of the best collections of Italian Renaissance art anywhere. I actually bought a catalog in the gift shoppe, the first time I've done that in a museum.

On the way out, I ran across excavations in the basement. One side, the bathrooms. Other side, crypts. No signs. Shrug.

And essentially, that was our one tourism day.

Saturday was family family family; dan's cousin's Bat Mitzvah. The ceremony was short; the congregation was enthusiastically happy; and dan and I understood less of what was going on than we would've if it weren't held in three languages, and if we were more properly Jewish, neither of us having ever been to a Bar or Bat Mitzvah before. The reception was held an hour away at a vineyard near Sienna, which was beautiful and they fed us wonderful food for several hours. Then there was a falconry demonstration, which included one tiny cousin not being eaten by a hawk. I got to hang out with warm relatives and relatives-by-law who seemed happy to meet me. And I took a trillion photos of the winery grounds.

Saturday night, I tried to get us take-out food at our hotel, and they forbid me. ("You're not allowed to bring in outside food." "What, you'll stop me?" "It's forbidden, because we have a restaurant." "...so what am I supposed to do if we want to eat something that isn't in your restaurant, and we're too tired to go out?" "Maybe if you wait until 10:30 and there isn't anyone at the door, you could bring it in then." "...") So I went and got us take-out sushi and carried it in inside my jacket. What a stupid ending to a nice hotel visit.

Sunday morning, we flew from Florence to Copenhagen, where we immediately were bombarded by dense breads, strange vowels, and ultra-modern sensible Danish design. I have less to say about Denmark right now, because I should be packing. I love our hotel. dan's friend [livejournal.com profile] surelars put us up; he fed us tasty dinners and gave us exhaustively complete histories (which seem to summarize to "and then there was a war and we lost a lot of the city due to fire.") I hope to have more to write about Denmark later. And there will be photos. Oh yes, there will be photos.

Once I'm back on the proper continent, I think.

Weekend Wrapup

Monday, 24 March 2008 09:48 pm
The weekend was fun. Conveniently, the chest-cold I've acquired didn't show itself until last night late- well *after* the Easter dinner out with [livejournal.com profile] melted_snowball and his colleagues. But last night I went to bed with a tight chest and woke up at 5ish this morning feeling pretty icky. Today was blah, but manageable.

I'm drinking tons of fluids and hope I can get over it quickly- if I'm still likely infectious on Friday, I'll scuttle my trip to NYC to see my grandmother... ("Happy 100th Birthday! I brought you a cold!")

Anyhow. This weekend: I slept in (till 8am! wow!), did more paper-sorting in the closet (getting down to the end on the left-hand closet!) did some art-wrangling [1] (three more framed pieces in my study: one by [livejournal.com profile] catbear of d. [2]; one an odd-sized matted piece I bought and promptly stashed in the closet when I realized it would cost a mint to get it properly framed, but [livejournal.com profile] catbear's advice gave me the proper $30 solution; and finally, I bought a frame for the LP album [livejournal.com profile] fuzzpsych gave me when I became a citizen) [3].

[1] Ugh, apologies for the dreadful sentence structure. I bet you can guess what my excuse is?

[2] which looks like a much wider view of this:

[3]

We also attended the baptism for [livejournal.com profile] tbiedl's youngest, who's young enough that neither d. or I had met her yet. It was a sweet welcome to her; though the church service was long- it included four readings, three skits, an outdoor portion, two candle lightings, and communion. Whew! :)

We also saw the Phil perform St. John's Passion, with surtitles and projected art. I don't have the oomph to properly review it, but I'm glad we went.

We shared two quite enjoyable dinners. One with [livejournal.com profile] catbear, [livejournal.com profile] dawn_guy, and Boy; it included scads of double-entendres, talking about games, food, and favourite stories. And the miracle of the Uncovered Pie. The other dinner was with colleagues of dan's, plus other academics at the Other University. It included no double-entendres, some French, many bottles of wine, shop talk, favourite stories, and a Devon Rex kitten who looked much like this. (Awwww!)

Hm. It's probably a good idea for me to go thud now. Hopefully I will wake up well-rested and less sick than today.

England day two

Thursday, 27 December 2007 11:34 pm
I seem to have misplaced my last entry. Here are a few Boxing Day photos. (there are seven that were at the "crop and post" level, though I like a few of the photos I took quite a bit, I'll probably do more with them later). 

Yesterday's high points:

We saw Cabaret, which I think was more affecting live than film. I certainly came out depressed. It was a good show. 3.5/4 stars, we agreed. 

The National Gallery is wonderful.  Van Gogh's 'Sunflowers', a few Caravaggios, Reuben's 'Massacre of the Innocents' and a few other 'wow they have that too' moments. 

In the morning we went to the Tate, which was neat, but we only spent an hour and a bit. We left without seeing the featured exhibit, a retrospective on Turner Prize winners, which looked good but cost 11 pounds.  As d. put it, we have a lot of London to see that costs less than 11 quid. :)  Of things I saw, I was taken by  Shedboatshead which was a large shed, turned into a boat and filled with the rest of the shed, sailed down the Rhine a few miles, and rebuilt into a shed.  In the gift shop, I found a book by Banksy that I like quite a lot. He has a few things to say about surveillance.

And now we're off for the morning!

Buying things

Friday, 7 December 2007 04:15 pm
This week I've bought art, a chair, and framing. And I'm looking forward to how my den's going to look in a few weeks.

[livejournal.com profile] catbear is making me a largeish print from a photo he took in Ottawa. I'm so looking forward to seeing it.

I have a large satellite photo of Lake Ontario. I love the photo- the blues and greens, the topography, the clouds. You can see where we live now, where my parents live, and Ithaca, from a 450-mile height. But it's been in an unflattering plastic frame for the last five years, because I was afraid to find out how much it would cost to do properly.

At [livejournal.com profile] catbear's suggestion, I'm having it laminated and plaque-mounted here at the University- for only $50. Gee, I should've done this years ago.

Finally, I bought a chair, which will be delivered in January; I've meant to have a second chair in that room for ages, and this one is super-comfy. And gold-coloured. And reclining.

It's... a bit weird to give myself permission to spend my own money. On myself. "Frivolously." But not, because it will bring me joy for a long time.
I was all set to be triumphant about how awesome modern technology is, that I had an IM chat in realtime with someone in Burundi this morning, I heard about the Quakers she's visiting there, successfully made plans for when she gets back, and the future's here today, etc etc.

But then I was unable to chat with [livejournal.com profile] chezmax, at the phone/networking company across the parking-lot from here. Oh, the irony.

Rather, his phone's chat client has changed in an incompatible way with my chat client; so everything he says comes across as (null) unless he puts it in quotes.

We had a long conversation before we figured out he was sending more content than I was receiving- where I was responding to the (null) in playful ways, and he was getting more and more confused, but he was able to tell me "things in quotes" which felt very meta, and I felt more and more like we were part of a surrealist work.

But what is life, otherwise?

Cat and Girl

Thursday, 7 June 2007 03:36 pm
I bought [livejournal.com profile] catandgirl some tea. And soba noodles. And a cantaloupe.

See?

The original ink copy showed up in the mail yesterday, and it looks identical to the web version, which surprises me, and surprises me that it surprises me. I'm very happy with it!

Artifice

Tuesday, 30 January 2007 10:00 pm
I really like the word artifice. Not only the word, but qualities behind it- cleverness, craftiness, subtle deception. My fascination with Almodóvar is at least in part a fascination with his statements on artifice.

I think I first decided this while reading Holy Fire by Bruce Sterling, some years back. This book shows the next 75 years' science being adopted by mass culture, such as mass-market "tincture sets" to make home-brew concoctions that are partly food, partly drug, partly art. Life is mostly recreational, in this world which has solved the problems of disease and overpopulation. But the cost is an elderly majority who have dispossessed the young. The main characters are a roving collective of young people, devoted to creating artifice and art, instead of subscribing to the mass-media-consumption culture. It's partly about hacking culture, one of those topics Bruce Sterling treats pretty well. It's also about taking what one needs, when society is unwilling to share.

To be honest, the book didn't come anywhere near "changing my life"; but it pointed me at a particular quality of the arts, and possibly of culture, that makes me happy. It's really hard to describe (and I've been sitting on writing this entry for... quite some time).

So, what does artifice mean to me? It's not "art," which is broader but includes much of what I mean. It's not lying, specifically; but it's telling truth through lies. It's the cleverest storytelling. It's "cool"'s egghead next-door neighbour. All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players. It's Almodóvar for certain. It's The Yes Men. And it's a pile of other things, which may or may not be important.

What say you?


This was a fairly good documentary about stunning art. The film-makers followed Edward Burtynsky on photo-shoots in a Chinese factory, a Chinese ship-building yard, a Bangladesh ship-breaking yard, various mining sites, and back to China for the Three Gorges Dam and Shanghai urban-renewal. (None explicitly about the Sudbury mines; I'd love to know the story of the photo above. It's my favourite of his photos).

Mr. Burtynski seems considerably less crazy than, say, Christo; and the pieces of the movie overlaid with his spoken message helped more than it grated. The music, however, tended to put me to sleep- better if they'd used more of Burtynski's lecture-circuit text to tell us more about his history and vision. (He described his work as essentially showing us some of the effects humans are having on the environment; without pointing fingers or making value judgements that would turn off some of his target audience. I'm not completely certain that's the right approach, values wise, but it makes for some really strong artistic work.)

One neat section was a slow zoom from a collection of huge earth-movers on a mining site, outward until we saw the outline of what seemed to be a huge crater of a mine, the earth-movers barely visible. Staggering perspectives, all throughout. In a way, it reminded me (in a good way) of George Lucas's vision for the original Star Wars- such as the Star Destroyer opening scene and the trash-compactor. Here, we've got real life echoing those unbelievable perspectives from sci-fi.

Here's his website, which has a short clip from the film; the "video" section has other clips that aren't from the film, including a neat set on the ship-breakers.

I'm not certain whether or not to recommend this film; if you're impressed by his work, I think it's best seen in large-format, so either on the big screen (closes tomorrow at the Princess) or perhaps on a big-ass home-projector.

Worhol at AGO

Monday, 14 August 2006 04:55 pm
PSA for people interested in seeing the Warhol at the AGO: when we were in Oakville, the nice Oakville Gallery2 employee passed on the rumour that there were free tickets for the AGO Warhol exhibit available from the Eaton Centre. I googled it, and this:

http://www.redflagdeals.com/deals/main.php/weblog/comments/21946/

suggests that if you're lucky and go at the right time, there may be free tickets if you are willing to stop by the Eaton Centre. It apparently involves filling out a survey; and they get new batches of tickets, according to people who've investigated. ...Go, redflagdeals.

I don't think we'll be going this weekend, but perhaps the next? *shrug* ...the Oakville exhibit may have fulfilled my Warhol itch, actually.

...hm, there seems to be a little old lady with a butterfly net walking back and forth in front of my office window. How odd. Though I suppose it is a university.

Feeling sort of disjointed; this evening's plans include a talk from EFF Canada at the LUG. I should leave now to do a few errands beforehand, but I don't feel like biking home. History shows that my energy levels don't tend to go up when I stall at work, so I should leave. But I want to finish fixing up something, too. Meh. It'll be here in the morning!

Don't shake the art

Saturday, 12 August 2006 06:15 pm
[livejournal.com profile] melted_snowball, [livejournal.com profile] metalana and I went to Oakville to see the Andy Warhol exhibit (at the Oakville Art Gallery). It was excellent- some Warhol I hadn't seen before, including "Black Lenin", probably my favourite piece there.

None of us had been to Oakville before (my fingers keep writing Oakland)- it's a tony town, full of old ladies with badly behaved dogs, but lots of good bakeries and galleries. The Oakville Gallery is split into two parts. The part with the Warhol was 5 minutes out of town at "Gairloch Gardens", whose grounds are pretty spiff. Except, it's a public garden, public parking, and there were five or six weddings trying to happen there simultaneously. Imagine trying to get out of a parkinglot blocked by stretch limos, and that was our last taste of Gairloch Gardens. Grr.

The other "huh" moment was just after leaving the gallery, we discovered a piece of outdoor art, sort of a tall cage, sort of designed into chairs. It evoked the inside of a church; and if you sat in the chairs and shook them, they each made different tones, like a church bell. How cool? Very cool.

Then the security guard walked by and shouted, "Hey! You! Knock it off!" Huh? "You're not allowed to do that." Oh, it looked like interactive art. And it was so cool. Oh well.

We went back into town and hit the downtown part of Oakville Galleries, which had Montréal artist Isabelle Hayeur. The exhibit was a dozen and a half wall-sized photshopped prints of suburbia. I liked it; I may try to describe it later, but I want to give Alana a chance at the laptop so I'll stop.

Before we left, we talked to the person at the desk, who gave the scoop about the non-interactive interactive art. Turns out they're trying to preserve it; they just lack signs to say it. Sigh.

Oh well. Great art; I can recommend the trip if you're able to get there by the end of the month.

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