I was never attracted to the paintings of E. H. Hughes while I worked as contract art educator at the National Gallery of Canada. It wasn’t until I lived near his home for almost two years, in the Cowichan River valley area that I began to understand that his work was a highly detailed documentation of plants, trees, geological formations, waterways and marine activity — not an attempt to express the impression of the landscape from a tourist’s point-of-view. The ubiquitous greys of the island from November through March explain the colour-challenged palettes in most of Hughes’ prints. The original paintings are rare since most of them have been sold to a unique collector in Germany. But framed expensive mass-produced prints from the original paintings (which the vast majority of people in the age of Robert Bateman — and more recently high quality giclee1 — mistake for original works of art) are prominent, particularly in the places like the family restaurant in Duncan called the Dog House.

In Canada plein art painting in cold weather is possible but uncomfortable. This small acrylic plein air sketch was painted in a couple of hours on the windy escarpment at Edelweis Point. The larger version will portray the mountains more accurately. I often find myself fantasizing about knocking on doors of stranger’s homes-with-a-view to ask for three hours of air space to paint in the off seasons. Following in the paths of plein air painters I had made up my own rules that I followed for decades. I would not paint from pictures. But I moved a lot since then. Each new Canadian region offers new visual opportunities and challenges for painting. Even the qualities of light itself, its clarity, luminosity, is different from region to region. I spent a lot of time studying the patterns of waves on the coast of Vancouver Island. Now I am confused, overwhelmed by the mountains. I want to hike their trails and see them from as many angles as is possible with easy 5-hour scrambles. These days I take digital photos on our day trips in and around Calgary to ecological reserves, public parks or even roadside in Cochrane, Canmore . . . Now I find myself painting with a laptop open beside me so that my finished painting becomes a visual tool for memory work, another way of living in and visualizing my everyday world. I also used to feel that selling mass-produced prints was dishonest and deluded an ill-informed public. Now I am just happy to have available images whatever their source or quality to compare and learn: Flickr, Google images, Virtual museums like the National Gallery of Canada’s, reproductions, etc. There aren’t any overpriced framed Giclees of specific mountain peaks from our local shopping mall galleries hanging over the sofa at home, but I will study and compare them as another way of seeing.

As I refine tags and folksonomy in the virtual world, I seek out more precise multidisciplinary taxonomies in ecosystems I inhabit. It informs the way I see, and the way that I take photographs and paint plein air. I tag my images through Google Earth, Picasa and Flickr. Adobe Photoshop provides tools that allow me to enhance or layer some images. Using www.bivouac.com, Peaks of the Canadian Rockies, and numerous other maps, images and texts I can hyperlink each mountain peak to its exact longtitude/latitude coordinates in Google Earth (and or Picasa and Flickr). In Google Earth I can link the altitude tool relative to space/ground with the height of the mountain. I can also link customized image icons and detailed information including the exact www.bivouac.com and/or Peaks of the Canadian Rockies urls. The process of social tagging or folksonomy fuels my interest in searching for the names that provide the most accurate historical, ecological, geographical information about mountain peaks, glacial erratics, medicinal plants, post-contact plants . . .

Google searches before and after help refine our understanding of the places we have visited. Public librairies, local museums and even Tim Horton’s customers provide more suggestions. Sharing using one of our many social networks is easy. Flickr provides tools for describing and commenting on details of images, adding textual information as well as refined folksonomy, geotagging and comparing photos with special interest groups. Google docs archives the unpublished notes, annotated webliographies and bibliographies and keeps track of published blogs.

In the process I learn about contributions to Alberta’s history by individuals and communities descended from First Nations, Chinese, Italians, French, Irish, British, African-Americans . . .

Of course it is a visual form of memory work. If we only relied on the printed word for knowledge claims we would find ourselves with limited perspectives provided by experts in exclusive academic disciplines who claim that their magisteria is nonoverlapping.

This is changing so rapidly in a world of integrated management. Ecohydrology combines the fields of ecological processes and hydrology that informs integrated management of watersheds. Google Earth allows nonexperts to view climatic zones, mountain ranges, massifs, river valleys, individual mountains, hillslopes, stream channels, estuaries, gullies, barchannels, recharge areas, and in some cases meter-sized features. We can fly over and zoom in on the watershed of the Athabaskan Lake and River, Fort McMurray, Fort Chipewyan. We can read related reports online and track changes ourselves. This kind of information has never been easier to collect and share.

The most accurate scientific information from legitimate sources provides exact terminologies and taxonomies2 that not only clarify complex issues, they are also folksonomy-friendly.

Footnotes

1. Limited edition archival prints where the editions are limited to a hundred or less of an original work of art and hand autographed by the artist are priced accordingly and were considered to be art collectors items. Robert Bateman is well-known for his high-priced multiple edition prints of his popular wildlife paintings. These are often purchased for a hefty price by uninformed collectors who believe they have an original work of art. With progress in digital technologies, printing inks and processes, giclees from original oil paintings can be printed on canvas that appears to have a varnished finish and priced as much as a unique original painting. Giclees on high quality water colour paper do have an archival life of over a hundred years. Their production is costly so they are priced more than a mass-produced print. Giclee archival prints are a huge improvement over the prints of the Group of Seven and Emily Carr distributed to public schools in Canada in the Post World War II years. Most of these framed prints which unfortunately still hang in public places over fifty years later, have darkened and have lost all semblance to original colours.

I now fully embrace the giclee concept as a way of sharing visual information more widely. It is yet another take on Walter Banjamin’s mechanical reproduction.

2. I looked to wikipedia under geomorphology to find the equivalent of taxonomy for mountains that I have been using to identify wildflowers, medicinal plants. According to wikipedia, “Different geomorphological processes dominate at different spatial and temporal scales. To help categorize landscape scales some geomorphologists use the following taxonomy:

Creative Commons reference:

CC Flynn-Burhoe, Maureen. 2007. “How to paint mountains: Geomorphological taxonomy.” >> speechless. November 13.

CC Flynn-Burhoe, Maureen. 2007. “How to paint mountains: Geomorphological taxonomy.” >> Google docs. November 13.

NB: This article is supposed to be automatically re-published on speechless as changes are made in Google docs. I prefer to have both references available.


For ten years (1990-2000) I had the most seductive job a visual artist could imagine as contract art educator at the National Gallery of Canada. The largest spaces in the gallery were devoted to the growing collection of contemporary art. So most educators included some contemporary art along with European, RCA, Group of Seven and modern art . . . in their survey tours of the collection. In the 1990s contemporary art was almost entirely postmodern and it was there in the early 1990s I experienced my own personal experience of the powers and limits of oppositional postmodernism (Altieri 1990). Perhaps I should have paid more attention that day to where the students were from. But they were an animated, interesting and interested group and the Hans Haake exhibition had just opened. I think it was Hans Haake’s (1983) controversial artwork Here is Alcan (Stephen Biko) (purchased by the National Gallery of Canada in 1983) that abruptly ended my tour. This image of Biko’s severely swollen battered face haunts the history of apartheid and adds weight to the Mandela’s honouring of those heroes like Biko who sought “to redeem the pledge to give a more human face to a society for centuries trampled upon by the jackboot of inhumanity (Mandela 1997). The professor who accompanied the group of CEGEP students from Jonquiere seemed to be personally insulted by Haake’s critique of Alcan and insisted his students leave the gallery immediately.

Yesterday was the thirtieth anniversay of Biko’s death in his prison cell in Pretoria, South Africa. Biko’s friend and biographer, British journalist Donald Woods’ gruesome postmortum photo of Biko was published around the globe resulting in such international indignation that the Security Council was forced to finally enforce the arms embargo they had instated in 1963. In 1994 Nelson Mandela acknowledged that the death of Biko was the first nail in the coffin of apartheid (Conchiglia 2007).

A decade ago Nelson Mandela unveiled the bronze statue of Stephen Bantu Biko by Naomi Jacobson as a contribution towards immortalising his life:

It also gives a certain kind of joy that the financial cost of creating the statue was footed by people in the creative field, including Denzel Washington, Kevin Kline and Richard Attenborough who will be remembered for the film on Biko, `Cry Freedom’. Another contributor is Peter Gabriel whose song `Biko’ helped keep the flame of anti-apartheid solidarity alive. This collaboration of British and American artists bears eloquent witness to Steve Biko’s internationalism (Mandela 1997).

Contemporary artist Jamelie Hassan (1987) reviewed Haake’s work,

Among the other works in this survey, Void Mean has the most visual and emotional impact — perhaps because it brings home Canada’s duplicity in tolerating Alcan’s involvement in the apartheid regime. It is in works like Void Mean that the full potency and immediacy of the issues reach us (and bravo to the National Gallery of Canada, who arranged for its loan during a moratorium on the loan of works from their collection so that Void Mean could be seen in the one Canadian gallery on the Haacke tour). Alcan’s corporate presence is appropriated from its promotional material and juxtaposed to two benign sepia images of a Montreal opera sponsored by Alcan. These images bracket a central, coloured, violent news photo of the dead Stephen Biko. In the accompanying text, Alcan’s involvement in South Africa is described: ‘The most important producer of aluminum sheet and the only fabricator of aluminum sheet in South Africa. From a non-white work force of 2,300 the company has trained eight skilled workers’ (translation from the French). To underline its source, the work is fabricated from aluminum storm windows: the top panels contain Alcan’s silver logo; the bottom panels, the images of the opera and Biko, to reinforce the reality of the violence perpetrated (Hassan 1987).

Bibliography

Altieri, C. 1990. “The Powers and the Limits of Oppositional Postmodernism.” American Literary History. 2: 443-481.
Bois, Yve-Alain; Crim, Douglas; Krauss, Rosalind; Haake, Hans. 1984. “A Conversation with Hans Haacke.” October. Vol. 30. Autumn: pp. 23-48.

Conchiglia, Augusta. 2007. “Steve Biko, la conscience noire.” Le monde diplomatique. September 12, 2007.

Hassan, Jamelie. 1987. “Hans Haacke at The Mendel Art Gallery, Saskatoon, May 15 – June 21.” Vanguard, Vol. 16:4, Sept/Oct 1987.

Mandela, Nelson. 1997. “Address at 20th Anniversary of Steve Biko’s Death.” East London, 12 September 1997. http://www.anc.org.za/ancdocs/history/mandela/1997/sp970912.html

Creative Commons License 2.5 Flynn-Burhoe, Maureen. 2007. “Stephen Bantu Biko (1940-1977) Thirty Years Later.” >> speechless http://docs.google.com/Doc?id=ddp3qxmz_361xsrzrh


This slideshow Logo Digitage Web2.0 was featured on SlideShare on June 18!

Digitage Web 2.0

June 14, 2007


Logos from Web 2.0 are caught in the web somewhere between NASA photos of deep space, science fiction landscapes of our inner space, the synapses of the brain, the virtual space that is not abstract, imagined or really real.

Web 2.0, is a term coined by Tim O’Reilly in 2004 for a series of conferences on a revivified Internet. O’Reilly (2005) in what is now considered to be his seminal article claimed that, “If Netscape was the standard bearer for Web 1.0, Google is most certainly the standard bearer for Web 2.0 (O’Reilly 2005). He contrasted Web 1.0 with Web 2.0 by citing examples: DoubleClick vs Google AdSense, Ofoto vs Flickr, Britannica Online vs Wikipedia, personal websites vs blogging, domain name speculation vs search engine optimization, page views vs cost per click, publishing vs participation, content management systems vs wikis directories (taxonomy) vs tagging (”folksonomy”) and stickiness vs syndication. The conceptual map his team devised provides a sketch of Web 2.0 showing social networking sites, wikis, communication tools, and folksonomies.

Although some argue that it does not exist as anything more than geek jargon, for this new user, it is a promising and surprising paradigm shift in the Internet and in software development. I began blogging using Web 2.0 freeware in September 2006. Numerous users like myself have access to sophisticated, ever-improving software technologies since the cost of development is shared among enthusiastic nerds and geeks (in a good way). Freeware on Web 2.0 is not proprietary by nature but is capable of generating huge profits because of the viral way in which users share in the development, marketing and growth of the product while improving connectivity and in content in the process.

Note: June 2007. This image was included in Weinreich’s slideshare album with a layer of text he added:New Generation Social Marketing. He had to resize the image to the PowerPoint format. It is credited to me in the transcript. It is fascinating how digitage such as this has a potential for producing offshoots. I am investigating the potential of slideshare for managing teaching, learning and research digitage (slides) in one place. I started to put them in my Flickr albums. Since I first created this image I have begun to use YouTube, Google docs, iGoogle and Facebook so there are several layers of text orbits to be added . . .

Key words: slideshare, academic, blog, blogging, collaboration, presentation, web2.0, powerpoint, slides, sharing presentations, slideshare, academic, collaboration, presentation, web2.0, powerpoint, slides, sharing presentations, Tim O’Reilly, wordpress.com, vastation, synaptic gasp, swicki, synapses, synaptic cleft, synaptic gap, rapture of the deep internet, photoshop, neuroscience, neural architectonics, mind-brain, googleearth, gather, frimr, flickr, digitage, delicious, cybernarcosis, cyberdelirium, cyberdeliria, creative commons, consciousness, bricoleuse, blogspot, blogging, art and science, technology, mind, Adobe Photoshop

Selected webliography

Tim O’Reilly, 2005. “What Is Web 2.0: Design Patterns and Business Models for the Next Generation of Software”. Uploaded 09/30/2005. Accessed January 6, 2007.


Originally uploaded from my Flickr account ocean.flynn.
I seemed to be disembodied, living through the digital images that appeared by magic on my Dell laptop screen. It was minus forty or fifty degrees. There was no taxi service so the town was shut down for me. Severe weather warnings were issued from Environment Canada. Suddenly a blinding sun broke through. I pulled on my army parka, leggings, mittens and Pangnirtung hat, grabbed my Kodak and headed outside to the breakwater. This image encapsulates the entire experience.

I attempted a number of reductions with this .png image but it created white noise. I tried an even smaller resolution and the noise is still there.

There were many painful things that I tried to forget but these images keep flashing into my mind and I am back there again. I am embarrassed that the loss of this silly lap top remains as such a crushing memory considering the suicides, the murder, the stories of everyday violences against human dignity. Having the laptop confiscated without warning is a metaphor for my inability to process the memories, a missing archives, a secret archives, an archives fever.

TOXIC

Flynn-Burhoe, Maureen. 2007. “Afliction: Tempest in a Tea Pot.” Uploaded 2007/01/05. Creative Commons 2.5 BY-NC-SA.

Speechless @ Body Worlds

December 27, 2006


Pentel Portrait of Plastinated Foetus

As I stood there frozen in one spot, sketchbook in one hand, wearing my blue museum temporary pass for artists, only my hand and eyes moving rapidly back and forth across the page to the miniature hands, feet, eyelashes before me, I felt like time stopped. I could hear words around me and feel the presence of others but I was intensely focussed.

It was not what I had expected. I heard voices speak of someone they knew who was born prematurely. They guessed at the number of weeks so they could make comparisons. There might have been thirty people, maybe as many as sixty people who passed by during the 90 minutes I spent in that small room with those six glass cases. I heard in their comments what I was thinking and feeling as I drew. Not a single one made an inappropriate comment, not a single joke or smart remark. There was no fear, disgust or disrespect.

I have felt this in front of moving works of art by Rubens, Rembrandt, Jordaens, Escher, Akpaliapik. I have never experienced this in a museum like this before. Where is this situated in terms of museology? or in terms of the Exhibition of Cultures? Science and art have come together here to create a new knowledge system.

There are moments that artists experience while drawing from life, even still life. A detail reveals itself as if it was not there a moment ago. It’s just the way the eye automatically eliminates ‘noise’, the confusion of details that prevent us from seeing the whatness of things. But when you take 30 minutes, an hour, three hours to draw one thing, those hidden details become unforgettable. Suddenly I could see — with complete clarity — fingernails, the balls of the toes, wrinkles like a faint pencil mark creating baby frowns . . . I could imagine the shape of the womb.

I asked myself if the mother or child grieved to see us before this portrayal. No, it was more like a skillfully carved sculpture than an irreverent glance. It was after all created by the hand of God, before it was prepared for this place by scientists, technicians, artists and inventors. I actually silently prayed to see if there was any disrespect in the process of creating or exhibiting these forms. I wanted to feel the presence of a lost soul if there was any. The only souls I felt were living and like me, they were in awe.

Science World, Vancouver, British Columbia where I visited the exhibit and the Institute of Plastination, Heidelberg, Germany where inventor/artist Gunther Von Hagens has his headquarters, require that all artists wear a special pass while drawing in the exhibition space and that they send a copy to them within two weeks of the museum visit. This is the first of four drawings that I will be uploading to fulfill that requirement. The original sketches were done in a sketchbook c. 10″ x 6.5″ using a 0.5mm Pentel P205 pencil. I completed four drawings in c. 2 – 2 1/2 hours.

For more information on Body Worlds 1, 2 and/or 3 and the inventor/artist Gunther Von Hagens (b. 1945) see below:

Von Hagens, Gunther. Body Worlds http://www.bodyworlds.com/en/pages/home.asp

Body Worlds 3 http://www.scienceworld.bc.ca/whats_on/Body-Worlds/overview.htm



Flynn-Burhoe, Maureen. 2006. Ripples Algorithm
Applying algorithms to ripples is as necessary in art as in science. Those applied by artists are invisible and unconscious but omnipresent. I googled for measurements to better understand M. C. Escher’s linogravure (1950) Cercles dans eau in relation to Andrew Davidhazy‘s photographs of the ripple effect of a drop disturbing the calm surface of a body of water.

I wanted to compare the measurements for the angles at which both these images were captured. I had layered them but they were not the same at all. This image was viewed on my Flickr account 2,843 times from October 22, 2006 when I first uploaded it to January 29, 2007. I finally printed it out in December 2006 at Apple Printers in Duncan, BC. The print quality potential at the shop is excellent but the image did not stand up to a printout! The layer of Escher’s print is too bluntly cut off and I was disappointed in the edges of my globes. So I opened all my original files again and went to work to clean it up. I realized that the angles at which Escher and Davidhazy captured their images, were different.

Andrew Davidhazy’s photographs of water splashes

“concentrate on the after effects of the impact of a drop of water on a shallow layer of the same liquid. He documents an aspect of fluid mechanics. This is a recoil or rebound effect of the surface responding to the sudden disturbance caused by a drop of water hitting the surface. The recoil column of water rises to surprising elevations above the surface and then due to surface tension effects it breaks up into droplets that fall back into the host liquid under the pull of gravity.”

Of course, I knew Escher’s original print was a double-ripple on a mirrored surface clearly reflecting branches of a tree without any leaves against a white sun. The serenity of Davidhazy’s photo could not be interrupted with an entire tree! But I would have liked to have had a better resonance between the angles of the ripples. There was more than one question. How do you measure the angle of perspective of the ripples? How do you measure a ripple affect? The first is basic Renaissance perspective but the second . . .

When professor Mikhail Nesterenko describes wave algorithms his descriptions are written in the language of computers and science: mathematics, engineering and physics but there is something of the philosophical that engaged me . . . almost poetry.

In this <a href=”http://www.photoblog.com/user/oceanflynn/2006/12/19″>image on my photoblog</a> I layered a sections of his description with a detail of M. C. Escher’s print. So which kind of algorithm is used by Escher and Davidhazy?

“Wave algorithm satisfies the following three properties:

  1. Termination: each computation is finite
  2. Decision: each computation contains at least one decide event
  3. Dependence: in each computation each decide event is causally preceded by an event in each process
  • initiator(starter) – process that execution of its actions spontaneously
  • non-initiator(follower) – starts execution only when receives a message

Wave algorithms differ in many respects, some features:

  • Centralized (single-source)
  • - one initiator; decentralized (multisource)
  • - multiple initiators

Topology – ring, tree, clique, etc.
Initial knowledge:

  • Each process knows its own unique name
  • Each process knows the names of its neighbors
  • Number of decisions to occur in each process
  • Usually wave algorithms exchange messages with no content

Footnotes

Andrew Davidhazy also works with digital strip panaroma of 360 degrees views

For more on stunning visual effects of fluid mechanics see Alex Liberzon’s site here. . he is a Senior Lecturer at the Department of Fluid Mechanics and Heat Transfer, Faculty of Engineering of the Tel Aviv University.

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