Overwhelmed that a photo of the Iqaluit cemetery taken from Happy Valley looking out over Koosejee Inlet in October 2002, can travel so far because of the initiative of Sep and Jonathan, two cyber citizens who have created Art 2.0: a collaborative art form linking (and hyperlinking) art, technology, consciousness . . .

Their methodology was impeccable, including dozens of collaborators through a series of courteous and informative emails that described the step-by-step process.

The final result is mind-boggling.

They provided the customized url for the image of pages on which the work of each contributor is shown:

They also provided a link to the Amazon site where the book itself is on sale at a very low price considering the high quality of the book design and its unique format which is a harbinger of a Art 2.0.

I am grateful they trawled Flickr and found a fragment of my own narrative . . .

Hi Maureen!

After nearly 3 years of hard work we are so very happy to announce that We Feel Fine: An Almanac of Human Emotion is in stores starting today. You should all be receiving your books within the next few weeks, but we hope that you will take a sneak peek next time you’re at your local bookstore. Copies should be on the shelves of bookstores nationwide in the United States.
If you live within the Unites States, your complimentary copy of the book will be shipped out today or tomorrow. If you live outside of the US we will be shipping your book next week and it may take some extra time to get to you. Thank you all for being so patient and it shouldn’t be too much longer until you have it in your hands.

We also hope that you will spread the word and perhaps include the exciting news in your facebook status or on your blog. We will be posting the simple: “We Feel Fine book in stores today! http://bit.ly/wffbook)” in our facebook/twitter as well.

As we have said before we honestly couldn’t have done this without all of you and so on today of all days would like to send you all our sincerest gratitude. For me, personally, I have had an incredible time working on this book and a huge part of that has been reading your blogs. Thanks for everything. Best, Sep


Arctic Adventurer: We Feel Fine

Arctic Adventurer: We Feel Fine,
originally uploaded by ocean.flynn.

Photos of Iqaluit cemetery taken October 2002; Uploaded to Flickr, Trawled by wefeelfine, Linked to wordpress, wefeelfine.org

American artist, Jonathan Harris describes his work on his website:

“I make (mostly) online projects that reimagine how we relate to our machines and to each other. I use computer science, statistics, storytelling, and visual art as tools. I believe in technology, but I think we need to make it more human. I believe that the Internet is becoming a planetary meta-organism, but that it is up to us to guide its evolution, and to shape it into a space we actually want to inhabit—one that can understand and honor both the individual human and the human collective, just like real life does (Harris).”

“Sep Kamvar is a consulting professor of Computational Mathematics at Stanford University. His research focuses on data mining and information retrieval in large-scale networks. He also is interested in using large amounts of data and accessible media in the study of human nature through art. [Among his other areas of interest he includes] probabilistic models for classification where there is little labeled data (Sep Kamvar’s blog profile).”

Glossary of Terms

Nonlinearity: “At the beginning of Chapter 5 in Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five, Billy Pilgrim finds himself in jail on the planet of Tralfamadore. Billys captors give him some Tralfamadorian books to pass the time, and while Billy can’t read Tralfamadorian, he does notice that the books are laid out in brief clumps of text, separated by stars. “Each clump of symbols is a brief, urgent message — discribing a situation, a scene,” explained one of his captors. “We Tralfamadorians read them all at once, not one after the other. There isn’t any relationship between all the mssages, except that the author has chosen then carefully, so that, when seen all at once, they produce an image of life that is beautiful and surprising and deep. There is no beginning, no middle, no end, no suspense, no moral, no causes, no effects. What we love in our books are the depths of many marvelous moments seen all at one time.” Harris and Kamvar aimed to write Almanac of Human Emotions in the telegraphic, schizophrenic manner of tales from Tralfamadore, where the flying saucers are.”

Open Platforms: “The power of open platforms in enabling the easy generation of consumable content has been demonstrated repeatedly on the internet, not only with the web itself, but also with sub-platforms like Facebook, Flickr, Google Gadgets, among others. I am interested in platforms that easily enable high-quality content creation for developers and provide a straightforward content consumption and navigation experience for users.”

Open Sub-platforms Open Sub-platforms like Facebook, Flickr, Google Gadgets, among others, facilitate the generation-creation of high-quality consumable content while providing easier access and consumption for users.


Webliography and Bibliography


My first embodied experience of mountains was in the mid-eighties in France and it left me speechless. We have been living within viewing range of the spectacular Rocky Mountains for over a year now and I am still in awe at the visual phenomenon of recognizing geographical formations with the naked eye, that are hundreds of kilometers away. I was born and grew up on Prince Edward Island where we had rolling hills, fields, harbours, and magnificent ocean views, but no vistas or panoramas that could cover this scale. For reasons I do not understand I have always needed to place my visual world in measurable perspectives and have even learned to map waves and spherical objects in order to draw and paint them with more accuracy.

This is one of the many Google maps I am working on as part of this project and others. From Calgary’s Crowfoot Public Library Lookout I have added lines to mountain peaks visible to the naked eye in ideal light. These lines indicate the distance. Each peak marker has additional information about the peaks including height in meters. I am hoping to eventually include ranges, subranges and regions as well as brief summaries on the history of naming, etc. (For now I rely heavily on bivouac.com, peakfinders, wikipedia as well as travel, history, geography and photography books). Information panels in national, provincial and municipal parks also provide some information. I am beginning to create and upload to my Picasa albums, icons (resolution 72 dpi, 65 pixels x 65 pixels) from my own digital photos for each peak.

I am struggling with Google Earth as I have overloaded my .kmz files.

Picasa allows me to tag my individual digital images and to place them in digital albums while maintaining separate albums on my PC to enhance findability. Semantic tools used on the Internet are developed on PCs too.

In order to paint the Rockies I wanted to first know where they were in relation to my easel. I don’t know why but I really want to know names of things including their historical and scientific names. Geological formations fascinate me as much as the history of the First Nations whose trails became our highways. I wanted to know exactly where I was and where they are with locational indicators. I wanted to know their height and how they were linked to neighbouring peaks. We became chasers of the light, watching Calgary skies for the best conditions for capturing images of the Rockies. We searched out the best sites for viewing the mountains from here and returned to them often. Most of our pictures were not that great from a photographic or aesthetic point of view. But bit by bit we were able to see more peaks clearly and identify them.

I began to take 180 degree pans even when the light was not great if at least some of the peaks were more visible.

We drove and hiked closer to the peaks as much as we could and continue to do so looking for more vistas and slightly different angles.

Using online and print sources piece by piece small sections came together.

I began to trace the contours of the peaks skyline so I could more clearly see which peaks were farther west, which were closer to us.

I used both Google Earth and Google’s My Maps features to geotag and tag exact peaks. Then I created lines between the peaks and the site from which I was taking photos so I could visualize compass directions.

I used the various mountaineering sites like bivuoac.com to study maps, to learn the language, to situate peaks within ranges, regions and subranges. I gathered descriptive information.

In Picasa I can geotag and label my photos and I have started uploading some of them to my Picasa album.

Using Adobe PhotoShop Creative Suite I create digitage (collages of digital images using .psd layer options) and I add text fields to label peaks and other features that help situate them.

I upload, tag and geotag some of these labeled images to Flickr but I have been disappointed by the low resolution in my free account.

Recently I have begun to upload higher resolution images to my wordpress accounts, including this one.

A group of savvy semantic web experts have created programs to autogenerate similar images! They describe how they align real photos with a synthetic panorama. I guess that is what I have been doing manually. See Technologies of Vision: semantic image labelling, Marmota: Visual Environmental Monitoring. Recently I received this delightful email from one of the researchers-collaborators:

Dear Maureen, I saw your picture and I think it is very related to the mountain labelling tool I’m working on: http://tev.fbk.eu/marmota (as a demo, please look at the photoblog). Can you describe the context of the Peaks’ Project? You are also welcome to add your photos to the flickr group labelledmountains Merry Christmas from Italy, michele

I thought it would be an appropriate time for me to contextualize my own slow world process involved in my “Naming the Peaks Project.”

Naming the Peaks Project in my ocean.flynn Flickr album
From BenchlandsPeaks’ Project: From Benchlands,
originally uploaded by ocean.flynn.

Webliography and Bibliography

Technologies of Vision: semantic image labelling

Marmota: Visual Environmental Monitoring

The name “film industry” no longer describes what is currently being done in Canada in the name of moving pictures (with or without sound) and should be canned. Not the industry, just the name.

For my recent birthday I received a gift of the Cosco movie package. It was better than a dozen roses! My birthday fell on a week night so we had to go to whatever movie was showing after 9:30 pm in Calgary’s ciniplexes. Thanks to Rotten Tomatoes and the excellent advice of someone we love we chose the perfect film for us, one we wouldn’t have chosen if we hadn’t been able to check reviews and even see clips together beforehand on-line. But what made this experience so unique, surreal, magical, romantic and totally unexpected was the empty theatre. When we realized we were going to be alone we did what we have never dared to before . . . we spread coats, belongings, refreshments over a half a dozen seats or more. We put up our feet on the seats in front of us and sprawled over seats beside us and we talked and laughed out loud during the whole movie. [digg=http://digg.com/url_to/story_on_digg]

When we finally got up to leave we realized there was one other couple nowhere near out seats. In the entire complex there seemed to only be 3 or 4 couples!

Last evening I watched Amnesia on a public library rental DVD. But quite often I just open my Quick Time Player and watch a dozen of our home made .avi clips at random, most of them shaky and murderously boring for “anyone who hadn’t been there.” Even 60 seconds of our (almost invariably poor quality) images with the sounds of wind blowing through cedars or a grain field, rain drops falling on a secluded lake in a BC provincial park, rushing spring waterfalls roaring below us as we leaned over a trestle might seem like an eternity for anyone else but us. For us those 60 seconds bring us back to an exact time and place with an added intensity that photos alone might not.

The video room at the National Gallery of Canada was one of the most people-free spaces in a huge building of people-free spaces. For high-intensity user like myself this was fine. I would take the time that so much contemporary video and interactive multimedia required. It was discouraging when the technology failed to work, as it often did, example …. installation piece entitled . It made me wonder how often the hype surrounding a particular very-well funded visual artist with enormous cultural capital and his/her work had given a life to something that may not have ever existed in the embodied world at all except in exclusive art journals and the fertile mind of the artist. (I am not referring to Conceptual Art which is clearly framed as art that exists first and primarily as concept). I was enthralled when some new technology was subverted into a totally unintended way to create brilliant works by a bricoleur/bricoleuse.

It was in these dark solitary rooms of the contemporary video section, some like Stan Douglas’ hauntingly beautiful, and culturally important travail de memoire (Spanish, British, First Nations) – Nutka series and others as small as a garden shed, (Did Wong do the cinammon on a stove element?) that some of the most memorable gallery moments occurred for me. There was one I was trying to put into words the other day that had left me breathless. It was filmed by someone with a handheld camera who simply ran after an empty paper chip bag as he was carried by gusts of wind. The primary sound that we could hear was the artist’s breathing which seemed to get louder as he got out of breath. He followed the chip bag and let the camera rest on it for long pauses between wind gusts. When the bag was picked up by the breeze and carried off over the waters the video obviously ended and there was a moment of silence that was ridiculously poignant. Which Vancouver-based video artist did that amazing loop film Paradise Island of the coconut falling then floating for infinity? Who did the one that focused on her father’s hand gestures as he spoke, not on his face and then let the camera reveal that his gestures had been inherited by her and were as clearly an indicator of their family ties as DNA? Whenever I could I would draw attention to these works to others, sometimes in a more formal role as contract art educator but even more often in conversation with others even years later . . .

Unfortunately to get to those gems I lost literally hours (of precious time I can never get back) of painfully long videos about which much ink had been spilt and that had obviously made it through the careful scrutiny of teams of experts at local, regional, national and international levels including juries of their peers and film curators at the top of their profession. Perhaps if I saw them again today with a remote control in my hand so I could fast forward, rewind, eliminate sections, turn off the sound in a large comfortable ciniplex eating buttered popcorn . . . Maybe not. But I would really love to see the paper chip bag again even if someone else did a derivative of the original . . Perhaps on Youtube or Google video?

Everyone that matters in the Canadian film industy is together in Banff preparing a portrait of what is being done in the name of the film industry.

Adina Lebo, Executive Director of ShowCanada wrote in her news release, entitled “Rollin’ in the Rockies” that the cinema of the future will be based in digital projection technology (Lebo 2008-04 filmjournal.com).

Robert Cuffley who is director of Walk All Over Me in Calgary claimed in an interview with Calgary Herald journalist Stephen Hunt that “digital film-making is changing the way movies look, and the way in which they need to be made. [It will also] put the medium into the hands of more creative people. Technological change has put more inexpensive technology in the hands of those who, 10 years ago, couldn’t dream of being able to afford to make a film. That’s no longer an excuse. [. . .] I always cite a film like Celebration, the Danish film that was so good. I think it was shot on a $1,200 camcorder (Cuffley in Hunt 2008-04-30 CH C:1,5). ”

Adina Lebo, Executive Director of the Motion Picture Theatre Association of Canada, predicted that multiplexes as we know them will gradually be replaced with a variety of cultural productions with limitless possibilities. The Motion Picture Theatre Association of Canada are hosting ShowCanada, the 22nd annual film industry of Canada’s convention currently taking place at the Banff Springs Hotel (Lebo in Hunt 2008-04-30 CH C:1,5). [This event and themes surrounding it are astonishingly not Search Engine Optimized].

Lebo argued that the future “film-less” society however will not elimate movies for those movie-lovers who have grown up with movies. The majority of what will be projected in the ciniplex-entertainment centre of the future, will be on huge digital screens. Eventually audiences won’t be watching projections of fragile physical film in cans. The shift to digital screens albeit very costly items is already well under way in Canada with 5000 digital screens installed aa of spring 2008 and a predicted increase in their use to 150% in 2009 (Lebo in Hunt 2008-04-30 CH C:1,5).

There will always be purists who prefer film and vinyl for their sight and sound enjoyment. They will be like the slow food, slow world protagonists, who maintain archives of productions from the pre-digital era.

This afternoon I will hang out my laundry on a clothes line and then I will get my gloved hands deep in dirt again, digging holes, trimming back, sawing branches, playing with white stones, buckets and planters and at the end of the day it will still look like a 1950s house with not much changed in 60 years. The flax bread in the breadmaker beeped at me awhile ago. I will probably bake something from Fanny Farmer before they arrive. That’s the really slow world. But I’m ready for Stan Douglas at Calgary’s future digital multiplexes . . .

Webliography and Bibliography

Douglas, Stan. 1996. “Nut-ka”. National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, ON.

Hunt, Stephen. 2008. “Cinema Variety: Will Digital Technology Change the Way You Think about Yout Local Multiplex?” Calgary Herald. 2008-04-30. C:1, 5. url svp anyone?

Lebo, Adina. 2008. Rollin’ in the Rockies.” Film Journal online. http://snurl.com/26i1s [www_filmjournal_com]

Watson, Scott. 1998. Stan Douglas. London, UK: Phaidon Press.

CC 3.0 Flynn-Burhoe, Maureen. 2008. “Made in Canada: The Art of Moving Pictures in the Age of Digital Reproduction.” Speechless. 2008-04-30. https://oceanflynn.wordpress.com/2008/04/30/made-in-canada http://snurl.com/26ixa

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.


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.