Friday, October 29, 2010


Green Balinese Mask

In the spirit of Hallowe'en, the lovely rikrak, etsy seller and blogger extraordinaire, has featured my mask collection as part of her "The Collectors" series. The feature includes photos of my collection, an interview with me, and a few pieces of my art she says she would like to collect (she's a sweetie). Read the interview 'a collection of masks with minouette' here.

Amongst her questions was, "what (‘s a crazy/interesting story behind one)?" which I couldn't answer without alluding to the late, great border collie/German Sheppard Agua, and her people faunalia and reynardin, and two, rather than one mask.

Mask Collection

Thanks to RJH for photographs!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Cat Pillows

So, I held off posting this because I didn't want young Master Ernerst W. (& parents) to see the original cat pillow (and 0th birthday gift) until it had arrived in the mail. I thought Mr. E would be fast friends with Mr. Sammy Samuelson, Cat, Esquire, so I made him his very own Sammy, block-printed, patchwork fabric cat. Knowing his mother, Lady Redjeep's pashion for thrifting, I thought some vintage fabric was in order. I also used my collection of letterpress letters and some embroidery to personalize it for him.

Ernest's cat pillow
Ernest's cat pillow

(Also, personally, the way gifts for infants tend to be highly gendered irks me, so I avoided all that non-sense: we've got denim and faux-bois on one hand and vintage florals on the other).

Next, someone who has been won over to appreciate cats by the intrepid Minouette, seemed to really love this print and project, so I made a second cat pillow:

Roger's cat pillow
Roger's cat pillow

And then, I thought I'd make a couple for the shop. Since these cats are the spawn of the Mr. Sammy Samuelson, Cat, Esquire lino block, their names are linked to his. Meet Samantha:

samatha cat pillow
samatha cat pillow

and Samir:
samir cat pillow
samir cat pillow

Sunday, October 24, 2010

multimedia, with narwhals, and bunting

wolf, narwhals, flags
narwhal detail

So, I was thinking more about semaphor, than bunting, really, and narwhals, of course. The narwhals are a linocut with chine collé (kozo and unryu papers, respectively). The arctic wolf is acrylic ink on water colour paper. The island is a geological map centering on the North Magnetic Pole (of course) with washi bits. The flags are Japanese papers on bookbinding thread. The paper behind the wolf I got in this specialty paper store in Amsterdam, which is safely far, far, from my home, or I might be bankrupt by now.

artic wolf detail
wolf, narwhals, flags

I also like that the arctic is full of places with names we use in Toronto, like Bathurst, and Peel and Wellington.

Not the greatest photos. It's sort of dark, and wet, and autumn here, so there's not enough light. I should just let RJH photograph stuff, but I wouldn't get images until he was satisfied and I'm too impatient. He reports, by the way, that the tiger-garage-robot is now missing. You gotta be quick if you're going catch those sudden robot-on-the-roof moments.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

tiger face with robot

So, do any of you people drive along Dupont much? Cause there's a giant tiger mural, with a freaking robot of the roof on a garage of late.

tiger + robot
tiger garage
robot arms on rooftiger eye + robot
side garage

Some times one needs to get out of the car and take some photos.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Post Thanksgiving


RJH just sent me this photo, labelled 'turkey-dazed'. I think he's in love with my cat. My cat is definitely in love with Thanksgiving, because with Thanksgiving comes turkey. This is what happens when you eat 1/20 of your body mass in turkey. Though, we probably all feel that way. He keeps telling her he would give her more but I won't let him to try and get on her good side.

Friday, October 8, 2010

multimedia progress

submarine multimdia

I've been working on this for a long time now, and though it's still in progress, I thought I'd share my mediocre photos. It's hard to photograph, because of the reflectivity of the glass, and it's rather heavy, so I can't place it just anywhere. I made this with the group show in mind. She's in a submarine, looking out windows and thinking.

detail of submarine multimedia piece

Most of the papers are Japanese washi, including all papers involved in block prints and chine collé, but the textured silver paper I bought in Amsterdam many years ago. Yes, I hoard paper, so what? I appropriated the old dials from our lab. I intend to wire up the LEDs and add a switch. There's a yellow LED in the anglerfish's lure, and a red one on one of the dials. She's painted in acrylic ink on water colour paper.

angler fish and nautilus detail

dials detail

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Reading is sexy XL

(image by Iker Ayestaran)

I'm not really feeling very well today. I have this threatening tickle in my throat and cotton wool in my brain, so instead of writing the @%&# report version 3.∞ I thought I'd catch up on some outstanding blogging. I realize I haven't mentioned any books read since July, and though I've been busy, that's just wrong. I started this post, in fact, July 31.

Next, I read the New York Trilogy by Paul Auster.

27. City of Glass by Paul Auster "It was a wrong number that started it," the mystery in which our protagonist Daniel Quinn finds himself. Quinn lives a life of relative leisure, easily publishing one detective novel under the pseudonym William Wilson, about gumshoe Max Work, every year. The rest of the time he is free to read, or roam the streets of New York city. His wife and son have died, and he lives a quiet, solitary existence. A series of telephone calls from a strange, somewhat mechanical voice, asking to speak with the detective 'Paul Auster' changes everything for him. Years of writing detective novels have made him intrigued about his own abilities to be a detective, and he eventually agrees to meet Peter Stillman, the man who is convinced he is 'Paul Auster' the best detective in town. It turns out that Peter Stillman has been the victim of a very strange experiment. His father was a theologist who wrote about the myth of Paradise and the myth of Babel. His thesis was about Milton's (apparent) secretary, Henry Dark, who allegedly conceived the idea that an infant, without the influence of people to teach it the languages humanity uses since the fall of the Tower of Babel, would naturally speak God's own tongue and be a link back to Paradise. So Stillman locked up his son Peter in isolation, in the dark, for 9 long years. There was a fire, which lead to Peter's release. Eventually the police, confronted with the barely-verbal young Peter deduce what his mad father has done, and the father is imprisoned. Peter spends years in a hospital, being rehabilitated, and eventually marries his nurse. Peter has called Quinn ('Paul Auster') because his father is being released from prison and he is terrified. 'Paul Auster' should tail Stillman senior and warn, Peter and his wife, if he intends Peter any harm. The wife, Virginia, has stepped straight out of a noir film. She is more care-giver than wife, and makes a pass at Quinn. Soon Quinn finds himself at Grand Central Station, awaiting Stillman senior, and then following his bizzare tramp-like life. Stillman lives in a rooming house-style hotel, and roams a certain set range of New York, on particular paths (which may have meaning) gathering innocuous things - urban debris. There is a wonderful interplay between levels of identity: Quinn as the author William Wilson, Quinn playing the role of Max Work, Quinn playing the role of 'Paul Auster' - and then one day, it occurs him to look in the phone book and call Paul Auster, whom he meets and learns is an author. Auster is writing an essay about Don Quixote (another D.Q.) and levels of meaning and identity, questions of who is the author and how this can be, and how can a person become the character in the sort of literature which obsesses them. This is an incredible book. On one level it is a detective story (though I felt compelled to look through my Paco Ignacio Taibo II novels to find the Walsh quotation above). It's also about the romance of New York, and literature, identity, meaning, loss, homelessness - and baseball, specifically the Mets. There's a real humanity here, as well as a love of history, literature and myth. It felt like Auster's New York has something in common with Haruki Murakami's Tokyo. The streets also have echos of the literary giants past who have made it their home. It's quite amazing to read something magic, and moving, with such a spectacular structure and so rich in allusions to literature.

28. Ghosts by Paul Auster It's the late 40's. Blue has learned the ropes of how to be a good detective from Brown, now retired. White hires Blue, over the phone, to trail a man named Black. He's rented the apartment across the street from Black, and supplied it with all Blue needs to surveil Black indefinitely - without explaining why. Blue accepts the easy, paying job. Blue calls his sweetheart and warns her he's going undercover, and moves into the apartment and begins the process of watching Black. The less Black does - and he does very little - the deeper Blue slips into obsession.

The entire novel is a sort of metaphor, as clarified by the third in the trilogy.

29. The Locked Room by Paul Auster A "locked room" mystery is usually a classic sort of murder mystery in which a body is found in a locked room (think Poe, Christie or Conan Doyle, why yes, I did take a course in Detective Fiction, why do you ask?), but in this case, and in this context, it is, of course, about a book, or several. Our unnamed protagonist, a writer and critic, receives a letter from a childhood friend named Fanshawe with whom he has lost touch. He soon learns that Fanshawe has disappeared, leaving a trove of unpublished novels, letters, and stories, and a young, beautiful wife and child. He is enlisted to help get the undiscovered literary genius Fanshawe published, but soon he falls into his role - husband and father in his small family. Despite some unresolved jealously of Fanshawe, and the reality of being suspected of being Fanshawe and merely pretending to be his childhood friend, life is good in a loving relationship and with a steady source of income from editing and publishing Fanshawe, until Fanshawe writes our protagonist a letter. Fanshawe is distinctly not dead, nor ignorant of our protagonist's new role, and in fact, appears to have orchestrated it all. Our protagonist is left fearful of confessing this to his wife, and feeling like a puppet. Our protagonist needs to hunt down Fanshawe.

Of the three, the first in the Trilogy is the most compelling, and the most able to stand on its own, but by the end of the third, the view of the over-arching structure of the entire trilogy is breath-taking.

{Series so far: books read, more books read, books read, books read continues, more books read, I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII, VIII, IX, X, XI, XII, XIII, XIV, XV, XVI, XVII, XVIII,XIX, XX, XXI, XXII, XXIII XXIV, XXV, XXVI, XXVII, XXVIII, XXIX, XXX, XXXI, XXXII, XXXIII, XXXIV, XXXV, XXXVI, XXXVII, XXXVIII, XXXIX}

Tuesday, October 5, 2010


Aurora, 2010, in atriumGiving up entirely on chronological order of my larger life on this blog, I will nonetheless attempt a chronological account of Nuit Blanche, October 2, 2010. I met F and R for dinner, and then we split up into two vehicles. The nature of the crowds and the evening was such that we never managed to re-connect, and I toured the city and the events with RJH, occasionally checking in with R. I was sorry to never manage to get together, but it was really useful to exchange notes about lines and quality of events/exhibits (or, sadly, lack thereof). I found over all the crowds were larger, and more drunk, and the art not quite as inspiring as last year, though we did enjoy ourselves and it was still a very special night. I mean really, how can I resist a free, sleepless night of a contemporary-art-transformed city. Though, I think that the curators do need to have some better crowd planning. Estimates of attendees, according to the radio, were as high as a million people. We need more events, like the peerless Kent Monkman's, which were open to all without any lines, and the crazy, roving Morris dancers, to entertain the freezing queues of people. Either that, or next year, I'm going to sleep all evening and leave my house at 3:00 am when the crowds finally begin to wane.

detail of suspended fluidWe began with Aurora, 2010 in the atrium of the Royal Conservatory of Music. The line was almost an hour (complicated by the fact that Bloor street is torn up and one cannot get to the sidewalk from the road unless prepared to go through or around the ditch, and there was no demarcation of the lines for the ROM versus the Royal Conservatory, and finally, the fact that there was a concert on which got out as we finally neared the front of the line and we had to wait for thousands of people to exit *headdesk*), Aurora in Atriumbut the cold and the frustration were alleaviated by being able to watch the Crossings the video installation projected onto the ROM Crystal, for part of the wait, and the merry band of roving Morris dancers (who should entertain all line-ups everywhere, because it's hard to be cross watching mad, white-clad, dancing fools with sticks). Aurora, 2010 was a large, kinetic, light sculpture which was supposed to interact with the audience. It wasn't clear to me how it was interacting (my brain is wired for how questions, hence the detailed photos of electronics in my flickr stream), but it was rather magical and otherworldly. It reminded me of a seaweed forest, but all feathery, white and lit. There were bulbs of amber fluid at the end of cables with vibrating, feathery protrusions, and a loud, beastly breathing sound. I reached up and touched it to figure out how it was interacting (and no guard complained of my behaviour, which was nice in a piece which is supposed to involve its audience). (Also, in a wise move, we a) used the luxurious, largely empty washrooms and b) snuck upstairs for a different view). looking down on Aurora, 2010Aurora, 2010

people on CrystalI loved how the ghostly video installation Crossings interacted with the faceted shape of the Crystal at the ROM, and being able to see eery purple-lit dinosaur skeletons through the windows behind.
projected on ROM

Iskootao - Kent Monkman
Hearing R's report that the Interactive landscape Dune, 2007-2010 in the legendary lower Bay Station was an hour's wait for "nifty, but basically LEDs on sticks" we decided we didn't care that much and wanted to see something without waiting. Since Kent Monkma and Gisèle Gordonn's Iskootāo, 2010 was at the rock in the middle of Yorkville park, we figured it would be open and without a line. It was very hard to photograph (contrast mine and the one below by my photographer RJH), but this light and sound displace starred Kent Monkman's "infamous alter-ego Miss Chief Eagle Testickle". This was another highlight - with nothing really more than red lights, drum over recorded music, Monkman mesmerized the crowd. The symbolism of the rock itself (a "650-tonne billion-year-old chunk of the Canadian shield"), and the clash of the Cree drag show in tony Yorkville was really compelling. It was also amazing to see how welcomed the show was by the crowd.

Kortune Fookie Next, after grabbing some food and water in a convenience store (avoid the hoards in the Starbucks) we continued to Yonge and just south to the KortuneFookie - the giant, cedar, interactive fortune cookie. Press a button, get a fortune. I was really keen on this. I thought getting a fortune would be fun. This was a bust. The sculpture was dull. The wait was the better part of an hour and I had to tell one, selfish, disengenuous young woman, that she needed to get to the back of the line with the rest of us. At the front, a drunken man jumped the queue and said, lamely, "Oh, there's a line." RJH made him accept his fortune ("You pushed the button, you take the fortune.") to cheers from the crowd. Fortunes were lame and mispelt. The upside? Our neighbours in line and the friendly Jamaican ladies selling cheap, but hardy samosas to people in line.

faces on Holt'sI wanted to see the giant, spherical origami at the Bata Shoe Museum before leaving Zone A, so we headed that way, passing Agnès Winter's Monument to Smile, 2010 projected onto Holt Renfrew. It was interesting enough to warant stopping and photographing the moving, smiling photos. Bonus points: no line.

smiling faces

glowing origami sphereI was expecting more from Whimsical Wabi-sabi, "the massive illuminated origami spheres that transform the Bata Shoe Museum into a unique urban garden". They were massive, they were lit, they were several and the did represent a lot of work. I'm not sure they "transformed" the museum into a "unique urban garden", but, they were pretty. The museum itself was also offering free admission. The staff however were a bit supercilious. They instructed people to commence in the basement and progress up four flights of stairs, utterly oblivious to the fact that many may only be interested in Nuit Blanche exhibits and not their permanent collection. Also, the guard who commanded us to wait by the exit to avoid being trampled by the few people calmly entering the adject door was a bit much.
message on origami
hanging origami spheresorigami: wabi sabi

bodysuits We had a brief break, to get the car, refreshment, more clothes and repair the two pairs of stockings I was wearing for warmth (the holey toes had become torture/toe-strangulation devices), then we braved traffic and crowds and drove down to Ryerson University in the heart of Zone B. I was keen to see Ning Ning billed as "an interactive swarm of LED fireflies that reacts to both stillness and motion" of the crowd and allegedly "respond to the ebb and flow of passing crowds with improvised displays of imitation bioluminescence." As you may have guessed, they had me at "bioluminescence". Sadly, this appeared to be strings of green Christmas lights in a window with no visible response to audience movement despite a great deal of engagement and effort. Nor did it remind me of fireflies. No photo: too dull to record.

the boss houseabandoned shoesSo, since we were there I wanted to go see Just because you can feel it doesn’t mean it’s there, 2010 'cause there'd be fire! in Dundas Square! But, I guess it was over. Anyhow, by the time we were there there was no evidence whatsoever of this piece, and we could only deduce that it was some sort of wankerish conceptual piece. Though, there are photos of fire on the website, so I guess they just ran out of wood? They might have posted a sign or something, because the guide book reads, "The fire burns from sundown to sun up." and there was decidedly NO FIRE. So we peered at the nearby hut built for Allegory for a Rock Opera, 2010, which in absence of the performer and music, appeared to be a small room with pink insulation wall and pebbles and a record on the floor. I spoted some abandonned shoes, which says something about the nature of the crowds (young, drunk, inappropriately dressed, for the most part, in this neighbourhood). But, I did like some people I presume were engaged in performance art, like the guys in the red and blue bodysuits, and the brides and grooms we saw in a few places.

archwayI wanted to see the elephant SHEBA, so we made a detour to the Distillery District. The guide promised "Her fully cast bronze body completed in the lacy, spider-web, splashing technique known to be Gabrielle Horvath's signature bronze casting style" but there was just head, trunk, tusks, and shoulder. It's a lovely sculpture, but it was not a "fully cast bronze body". While in the Distillery, we enjoyed the dancers in green and white, saw the projection of Burning Buddha and wandered through the Ronald in 'tent city'Way-Station (North Migration), an envisioned post-climate-change-enduced-apocalyptic societal collapse and human migration to Northern Ontario. It was interesting (and less establishment than the invited exhibits). It was sort of a small tent city of 'refugees', complete with performance artists preeching, teaching, or sitting quietly in their 'abodes' or shrines. The audience was encouraged to leave items. I like the imagery; a mix of refugee camps and very homey and contemporarily hip images playing on quilts, old-fashioned floral print fabric, strings of fabric penant flags, and doilies and traditional crafts connoting home and warmth, likewise the signs of nature, like branches or antlers, mixed with pop culture (Ronald MacDonald head). All of the many galleries were also open and filled with visitors.
globe with 'quilt'distillery district sculpture

We got back in the car in an effort to get near Nathan Philips Square. I'm glad I suggested walking by the illuminated van, Auto Lamp, 2009, because it was a thing of surprising beauty. Pierced with some many holes of various sizes it seemed like lace, the rotating van on Yonge St, south of Queen covered the buildings with hundreds of trails of rotating, varied, circles of light. It was quite magical, and free for all to enjoy without a queue. This was unique in that it exceeded expectations. (I did not really capture the projected light on the walls, so you'll have to take my word for it.)

rotating lacey van
light from van
rotating glowing vanlacey van

On our way to City Hall, we passed The Bus House, one of three bus shelters transformed into homes. This one I believe was supposed to represent "child's idealistic universe" and be welcoming and fun, but it made me think of homelessness, despite the childlike exuberance. There were a mysterious troupe of young men nearby in spectacular knit sweaters, one of whom I caught in this photo.
Bus shelter home

purple poolWe topped off our night with Daniel Lanois's collaborative, multimedia Later That Night At The Drive-In, 2010 which was spectacular. There were huge pyramids and rectangles onto which video works were projected; fields of colour, rapidly changing abstract animations, films in which vintage photos were manipulated, to the soundtrack of Lanois' music. These screens were doubled with their reflection in the reflection pool.
multimedia City Hall
As I photographed the scene, by the side of the reflecting pool, a teenage girl purposely jumped into my shot and waved her arms, so I paused with a wry smile. Then she commanded, "Take my picture! Take my picture!"
after the drive in - city hallpurple City HallShe grabbed her friend and dragged her in front of me and shouted, "Take our picture"
"Yeah, no thanks. That's not going to happen." She lunged at me aggressively. Then she got all up in my face and said, "Oh, she's not feeling it," and she proceeded to jump at RJH and try and get in his face, whereupon, I lost my patience and said firmly, "Would you like to go swimming young lady?" at which point she wisely disappeared. reflecting pool with multimedia The funny thing is, as a press photographer, RJH was pretty immune to anyone obnoxiously jumping in his face to annoy him in attempt to ruin a photo (and nonetheless seemed to think my response was awesome). City Hall with multimedia Soon after, the projected images showed the band, rather than more abstract images, so we tried to get closer to the band-stand. Amazingly, this was pretty easy. The band-stand was weird - low set with a rising ramp for the crowd, so that only the front couple of rows could actually see the band. However, there was a large mirrored panel above which reflected both the sound and the band, those on the couch, and a belly-dancer (in Native-inspired clothes... well, bra). The performers were also projected onto screens all around us. We were able to get up to the fourth row and enjoy the live performance! It was a great way to cap the night.

after the drive in