Spark in the Dark premiers Friday April 14th at Dawson City Short Film Festival 2017

My son James and I are excited to launch our film A Spark in the Dark: Tinder Users in the North next week at DCISFF in Dawson City, Yukon. This short doc explores love & technology in the small and isolated town of Dawson City during the sub-arctic winter, revealing touching and humorous insights about life in the far north.

We are also very excited to realize that this is the very first documentary about social media use in the Yukon. The north does indeed provide historic opportunities.

If you can make it most of the crew and participants will be in attendance. We’ll have more screenings info soon.

ASITD_POSTER3_KAT

A resistant reading to opportunity of the industrial economy

These are a series of screen shots from a 1946 promotional film produced by the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce I found on YouTube. It is both hilarious and disturbing as it features a young couple relaxing together in various Hamilton landscapes but always haunted by visions of the impending future of soul-crushing and dead end jobs within various local industries. The companies featured prominently obviously paid to be featured prominently as a place where you could toil as a small cog in their machines (there are no management positions shown, I noticed).

64 years later and how did this turn out? Not well, and most of these companies are probably not paying their promised pensions anymore, and many of them simply don’t exist or abandoned this place for cheaper labour elsewhere. However, this “worker’s paradise” lingers on in our urban landscape and frames much of the sensibilities of the community here but probably unconsciously. For example, these huge 5 lane one way streets running through residential neighbourhoods here better be kept intact just in case the manufacturing and steel industry returns! Sigh…

Anyways, I found this film to a be an interesting presentation of industrial style propaganda and an exercise of pounding hereto-normal stereotypes over and over onto the viewer. So I took screen shots and slightly re-arranged the sequence to portray the film’s essence. Artistically, I enjoyed some of these shots very much and even feel inspired to maybe paint a few of these.

I notice the similar repeated angles of landscape and work environments. The shots, looking upwards at the workers, as the same as the statues show throughout the film – Nietzsche’s monumental history is present throughout this imagery.

I also noticed clocks are a prominent symbol throughout, as is immersion inside machinery, or clinging to machines as a ground. There is also a lot of monuments with a decidedly military and state nationalist framing. I learned this year not to underestimate the influence and effect of this kind of message on our society and subsequent generations. As laughable and clumsy as this film may be to us now, it is still contains a sensibility repeated today by politicians and the community at large. For me, though I sympathize with unions and worker’s rights and am suspicious of the motives of corporate entities, I have never felt comfortable limiting my philosophical musings to resistance and labour. This is only because I think we are missing the ultimate goal of utopia in our public and social discourse. I believe in the inherent goodness of people and that 100% freedom from labour and toil is a desirable and just ambition (Yes, I believe in the Star Trek universe, haha). By entrenching our position within the larger labour / power discourse, we are still maintaining the status quo and not progressing on the real issues of human civilization and the environment. We need to take a step sideways to look at what we really want to accomplish and why. Instead, we quibble over short term goals and the invisible forces of ego. Anyways…

I was initially surprised to see roughly half of the jobs demonstrated occupied by women as this was released in 1946. Then I realized this was at a time where many of the young men were killed in the war and the economic and social importance of Rosie the Riveter.

Also, note the subtext of encouraging high school students to enter the work force right away because industry and manufacturing needed workers right away. Is this utopia?

Enjoy and there are a couple of films I plan to subject to the same treatment.

Here’s the original film… enjoy, if you dare…

[Podcast #5 / Interview] I talk with HWDSB Trustee Tim Simmons about Sanford Avenue School

This is a phone interview with Hamilton, Ontario’s school board chair and my local Trustee Tim Simmons, who was gracious enough to give his full attention to a blogger wearing a citizen journalist hat. I was impressed with his willingness to confront the issues and to attend the community meeting next week.

Podcast #5 is available here and on iTunes. This episode is 31 min 45s.

I voice concerns and ask Mr.Simmons questions about the decisions and process that has led to the likely imminent demolition of Sanford Avenue School – a beautiful 1932 historic building in my neighbourhood. Apologies for the poor quality of the phone recording – we do the best we can with what we have. There is nothing scandalous here, but lots of revealing insight into the process and even a sense of hope and common ground, I believe.

Buildings like these are an artist live / work loft dream come true, and many other people find this structure equally as appealing for many other uses – including developers who have not had a chance to propose a plan to save the building and incorporate local community goals.

You can find out more about the state of crisis of this structure on my original blog post here.

If you are reading this before Dec 4th, 2012 and you live in Hamilton, particularly Ward 3, then please consider attending the Wever Hub special community meeting that day at 6pm at Cathy Wever School to voice your opinion. It’s important, especially for future generations in the community.

Artists in dark times.

The role of artists during periods of repression and arch-conservatism is traditionally one of resistance and criticism.

There are valid arguments that society is in another dark age similar to the medieval, or middle ages and I can see the similarities –  a de-valuation of liberal arts and accessible education, rapid developments in technology, a great divide between the poor and rich and (due to the very limited shelf life of digital media) an impermanence of recorded information.

Though the arts benefit greatly, like everything does, when society is more tolerant and educated there is also a natural counter-reaction to arch-conservatism that actually triggers significant production and innovation. Sadly, genuine suffering and the need to articulate critical ideas in areas rabid intolerants don’t know how to censor are the main engines for these historical periods of high art. It is a testament to both the strength and importance of artists in our society and the “weakness” of the arts deserving support because it is pretty obvious during these times that arts and artists will always play a significant role no matter how hard religious or political trends attempt to squash or neglect such intellectual efforts.

The arts have never been more popular or important as they are right now… but for all the wrong reasons. We live in dark times.

Contemporary art trends over the next decade

Identifying recent art trends is tough enough – we can’t see the forest for the trees, so to speak. Everything around us is so different and madly off in all directions, but art trends emerge clearly upon retrospect over time with the comforting tilt-shift vision of art history. Though I can see trends in current art making, I accept the fact I cannot perceive some (if not most) of the important developments in contemporary work around me.

In a sense a collector is investing in a perceived future trend when he or she buys a work – an inherent hope that you are planting your flag into the tip of an iceberg. Rooted in the practice of the present, we attempt to interpret current art with an informed art history eye as well as an abstract projection of various departure points for this work, this artist.

So with the recent slew of  art-in-the-last-ten-years reviews, this blog has decided to boldly scrutinize the last tens years in an attempt to divine the next ten years in contemporary art.

Being an artist who writes, I am perfectly allowed to attempt such leaps of bold lateral logic.

Top 10 art trends over the next ten years (they are all erringly connected):

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