Self-Portrait as a Simulacrum

I’ve been enjoying working in virtual reality this past school term, and that has led to messing around with 3D modelling apps on my mobile phone.  As I keep figuring out about myself, I really enjoy working with the possibilities and limitations of a mobile device – including the artefacts and degradation of importing the real world into the digital world.

I’ve also enjoyed my philosophy class, wherein I’ve learned about thinkers such as Jean Baudrillard – though exploration of his ideas does not necessarily mean I agree with them, but there is something to them when we think about why people think they way they think.

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I would love to do an interactive full body work like this. So much fun.

Here’s some bonus screen shots of a sad stapler – my first attempt.

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Verizon vs Bell, Rogers & Telus: What side Canadian Artists should support.

This is an easy answer – all Canadian artists and cultural workers should support opening the market to international telecommunication companies just like Verizon.

And now comes the fun part – explaining why!

For artists and Canadian culture in general this is a terrible sanction to have on us during this emerging period of online productions. Think about it – with data being so expensive in Canada and so comparatively cheap everywhere else in the world, our ability to produce and consume digital work is handicapped. We’ll put less work up, and we’ll watch less and the work that is up there has less production value, making us a bit of a laughing stock internationally.

Look at this way – throughout history artists have usually been on the trailing edge of technology as it become more affordable. Now with the massive economics of mobile devices, artists are finally right there on the vanguard of innovation – except in Canada. We simply can’t afford to be as nimble, innovative and productive as the rest of the world.

Why? Because Bell, Rogers and Telus have been lying and manipulating us in order to maintain a monopolistic strangle hold on the tiny Canadian market and leave us with the some of the highest rates in the world for internet, text messages and data transfer. I know this is not exactly news to most people, but incredibly many people out there are still sympathetic to these big three players because, apparently, they will believe whatever commercials and lobbying messages are put on the TV by the people who they are paying money to watch these commercials and lobbying messages on TV.

Below is a summation and rebuttal, point by point, of their main points throughout recent years, as seen on TV:

1. People illegally downloading movies are causing more strain on the system so that’s why prices are high.

That’s like saying if your neighbour is watching a lot of TV, your cable bill will go up.  Or lots of people are mailing books to each other that they stole from their local libraries, so stamps will increase in price. Usually something being used used more frequently usually results in it becoming cheaper – no matter the content being downloaded, someone is still paying for that bandwidth.

Also, look through these companies Business packages. They tend to espouse how fast and growing their networks are – but when dealing with their retail service, then suddenly they need you to pay more for less. Neat trick.

2. The internet is growing and becoming faster. It’s expensive to keep up these standards so that price is reflected in our bills:

You may be surprised to find this out but in fact the internet is very fast and rather boundless by it’s very nature – what you are actually paying for is the technology and marketing these big three companies use to actually slow down the internet to various levels and sell it back to you with caps on the speed and amount you can download.

3. They have internet packages that are very reasonable for the amount people use them:

No they are not reasonable. If I go above my monthly cap, then I have to pay $10 per Gigabyte – 10 FUCKING DOLLARS! – per gigabyte. Most people don’t even know what a gigabyte is so these telecommunication companies will get away with this exploitative and unethical behaviour. And frankly, it is nobody’s business what I use my internet for any more than it is what books i read or what kind of music I listen to. But my point here does apply to being an artist who uploads many photos and other media to websites, and this hampers that.

Now the really evil part – Bell, Rogers and Telus are adjusting their internet packages so that it is very fast for everyone but lowering the amount of data you are “allowed” to use. This means people will literally be able to race to their caps faster and thus have to pay exorbitant fees ($10 per Gigabyte!!!!) based on the small print of their contracts, which also have steep penalties for breaking contracts early or even for not returning the low-quality mass-produced modems they supply. For example, the modem we have is probably worth about $80 retail. If we do not return it when we cancel their contract, we have to pay $800. When they get the modem, they’ll just dispose of it.

4. Bell and Rogers are Canadian – we should support Canadian businesses!

Keep this is mind: Bell and Rogers are also international companies and would in a heartbeat trade places with Verizon. All of these companies are the same and view you the same way, so you should treat them the same as well. What is important here is that if companies like Verizon are allowed into our market, the price for data for people like you and me will drop considerably.

The disparity in access to available networks in North America becomes even more ludicrous when you consider the fact large corporations are enjoying international free trade agreements, but we as individuals are not benefiting.

5. Bell, Rogers and Telus will provide better Customer Service.

Anyone who is Canadian and does not work for Bell, Rogers or Telus will agree that these companies have been terrible to their customers and only very slightly, begrudgingly better since more competition seems to be looming on the horizon.  For most of us, we’ve talked to each about this and shared our revenge fantasies of someday seeing the demise of these companies.

In conclusion, there are changes coming. The CRTC has, finally, made a ruling to limit the contracts, alleviate unreasonable roaming and other charges and provide some price relief. Not sure why they have not stepped in before to help protect citizens, as that is supposed to be their job.

In the meantime, my family and I have switch away from the evil three and gone with an ethical re-seller of Bell (you cannot escape the reseller status of all independent telecommunication companies in Canada. They are all re-sellers of Bell’s bandwidth because our government allowed Bell to become a monopoly over many years).

Someday, we hope to completely free and clear of purchasing any services from Bell, Rogers or Telus, and so should you.

[Video + Podcast #8] Christopher Healey interviewed about exhibit Mexico ii, by Hamilton Artists Inc.

You listen to the Audio Only Podcast or watch the video below:

Raw audio + finished video  from a 20 minute interview on June 29th, 2013 of Christopher Healey. Conducted by Hamilton Artists Inc’s Curatorial Assistant Caitlin Sutherland, and Gallery Assistant Samantha Roketta, about my exhibit Mexico ii featuring paintings by my mother Beverly Healey and digital collages by me.

I’m the first artist for this video interview series for the Inc, and was glad to help out this way. I really appreciated being able to articulate more of about the show and the process, and yet still feel like I forgot to mention a couple of key points – of course. That is, essentially, my work is about death and the “thinness” of our existence – which is one of the reasons I used the sunlight and the materials I did, such as the skull and white plastic. My Mom’s oil painting portrait work is about life, and the richness of an individual’s character and immortalizing it.

More information at my original post about the show here: https://chrishealey.me/2013/05/26/mexico-ii-an-exhibit-of-paintings-digital-collages/

One of great things I enjoy about the culture of the Inc is involvement with some young graffiti artists – one in particular has been very involved. He got very excited telling me about the impression my Mom’s work made on him during the member’s exhibit “Oh my god it was so good – no offence, but it was the best work in the gallery… it’s like a 17th century painting by on old master… no one else came close to it – no offence to your work or anything – it was totally sick. If she gave me her one of her paintings, I would walk out of the gallery and never do graffiti art again.. I’m serious!..”

This was awesome feedback for my Mom 🙂 Especially since we live in an age where street artists usually end up as the new art stars.

I’ll update this post when the video is available. In the meantime, enjoy the pictures of the exhibit below:

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Christopher Healey & Beverly Healey – photo by Joanna St. Jacques

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Mountain Path

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Who watches the opacity? Art & activism in the shadow of big industry

I thought I was alone these last couple of years watching in awe the monstrous, billowing, sky creatures of Hamilton’s industrial sector.

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Oh, I know Hamilton is and has long been an area of fascination for artists both casual and professional. Most of what I’ve seen (and much of my own work) is based on the ground up i.e structures and landscapes. But just above that is another landscape entirely – and I’ve been referring to the airspace above the industrial sector as “landscape” because what is going on up there is far too solid and far too much a permanent fixture to be called anything else.

I look for the flames when I cross into Hamilton from work, and I’ll always glance to the air above the architecture to see what is billowing where … and just marvel at how large and, literally, “opaque” these are. Night and day, though wind and rain, I would explore vantage points and study these shapes. I started to take pictures, then time lapse pictures, then movies, then collages… and now, thousands of photos later my first exhibit with this series of work opens tomorrow at 173 James Street North. Both formal and a flight of fancy influenced by a healthy dose of local activism and politics, I started to anthropomorphise the emissions as kind of creatures of mythology. (Is “anthropomorphise” the right word? I’m not sure as technically I am ascribing qualities of non-humans, greek gods, to non-human emissions… )

The relationship, for me, drew similarities to what I assume living among titans and gods would of been like. Huge and obvious, dominating and affecting the landscape yet uncaring and oblivious to gnats like me frittering away at the edges. Sure, I can indirectly communicate with the people operating this machinery, but that is also a claim of priests and oracles at any temple. There are always prophecies of doom and of hope flying about in classical mythology, as there are in Hamilton council and on the local chorus – twitter. I could go on, but that’s basically how my mind always keeps connecting things on me and then I tend to go “deep into the rabbit hole” with work and research. And that’s how I arrived at this collection of digital prints, my first solo exhibit in many years. It’s called “Uranus of Hamilton” – and yes, I know. The name has a few different stories to it, though it is the correct name as this 7 work exhibit refers to the creation mythology of Ancient Greece.

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Anyways, so I thought I was alone out there watching for industrial emissions because of their visual qualities. But I was not alone – here’s a recent CBC Hamilton news article about Lynda Lukasik, executive director of Environment Hamilton, who was out there around the same period “documenting and photographing the emissions for months”.  I didn’t know there were laws on the opacity of industrial emissions, and it’s neat to think that what I saw as formally fascinating yet rationally horrifying was kinda validated by this unfolding environmental story.

I am very impressed with Lukasik and local residents for their work on this, and very grateful. It’s a real effort, I think, to break out of our accustomed blind-spots that build up over time and prevent us from seeing some of the absurdity right in front of our eyes. These titans of industry are no slouches – they know what they are doing and they know how to minimize the perception of their presence. For example, I can’t get anywhere inside the industrial sector – I once got in trouble by three security guards for standing on patch of corporate lawn to take a picture of a statue. Public parking is also non-existent in that area and they spend a lot of time and money doing marketing and PR based on charities and the arts.

As thick and opaque as Dafasco’s industrial emissions, this kind of practice shields their activities from most citizens by associating what we are seeing with warm and fuzzy feelings about community and jobs and things like that. Adding insult to injury is the fact that they are spending millions on marketing while receiving millions to keep the plants open. They are also not spending the millions government is spending to clean up toxic areas such as Randal’s Reef.

This asymmetrical scale of priorities and responsibilities is a neat trick of smoke and mirrors. I learned it takes full time dedication from patient and perceptive locals to see through it and be able to change the titan’s behaviour. I, on the other hand, was only observing the titan behaviour.

Some more work from that series is in this post, but not of the works in the exhibit though. You’ll have to show up sometime with April 12th to May 6th to see those.


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Bonus: I’ve included a sort of “hidden” work in the gallery that is based on the below raw footage of Tartarus.

[online exhibit] Mountain Path, 2013

Instructions:

*update: I’ve added a stand-alone montage version of the work. The instructions below are for viewing each slide individually.

1) Click on the first (top left) thumbnail below to enter fullscreen slideshow mode
2) Scroll (to the right) through the slideshow until you reach the end of the path. Get comfortable: there are 170 slides, including the entry and the eventual destination.
3) You can of course jump in and out anywhere along the path you choose, at any time, but then you might miss the journey inside the experience.

Process notes:

It is important to note that this work is entirely captured, rendered and output through a mobile device and on location during one session.

Artist Statement:

For me, there are several classical and contemporary themes in the work, such as: the supernatural; a formal approach to landscape; a questioning of political / social issues involving digital topographical mapping; a spiritual journey reflecting on death. There are many other contemplations that are evoked for me when I engage the work, and hopefully there will be for the viewer as well.

I enjoy the compositions of the shadows and the rocks, as well as the idea of a digital shadow cast on real objects through a challenging process of documentation for both the tools and the artist. The stresses of this effort on the image and the human traces archived in the process are a very important part of the production philosophy for me.  I welcome comments and questions in the discussion field below where this conversation can continue.

Why exhibit online?

This series works well online I think through the intimacy of scrolling through the series of horizontal based documentation. I enjoy the ideas of creating a work while mobile and exhibiting almost immediately after production, without interference or influence – qualities in art which are actually rare to achieve and I believe warrants further practice.

Though much worthwhile art only works online, this particular show would translate well to a physical exhibition environment and I hope to mount multiple instances of Mountain Path around the world. Please contact me if you are interested in a hosting an edition/ installation of this work.

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MOUNTAIN PATH (2013)
Christopher Healey

 

Mountain Path

Mountain Path

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