Sunday, February 19, 2012

political art: one the awesomest things about being an artist

I've been feverishly working on prep for my next independent-study project for Peter's class for the last few days. This will be my last one, so my motto is "go big--or go home!"

Monday: This week's class was completely devoted to introducing us to the next project: Political/Personal. I'm used to new assignments being presented in fifteen minutes max, but this time Linda spent the entire three hours talking about it, giving us ideas, showing clips from a DVD, etc. We could choose either theme (political or personal), and I chose political: human rights, specifically Foxconn, which makes iPads and Kindles, among other gadgets--and does it all under conditions that horrify human-rights groups.

Tuesday: Another independent-study project in Photoshop. After several days of wondering what I wanted to do (although this is technically impossible because Photoshop is such a powerful tool, I'm starting to feel like there's nothing left to learn), I decided to work on designing a business card. I've wanted to design one that I could use in the "real world".

This week, Rod introduced us to the Røde directional mic and the BeachTek receiver. Although my shoot during the weekend when I was home gave me a leg up (Rod was surprised for some reason when I told him that I'd used a Zoom H2 mic--hey, he wanted good sound, so I used equipment that's better than your average built-in camera mic), I wanted to do the assignment because knowing how different systems/tools work is very important to me.

In the evening, we presented to Photo Fredericton. I went first, and I think I was more nervous than I thought I was at the time: I only really loosened up after the planned part of my presentation, when the PhotoFred members started firing questions at me. But as this was my first time in a long time being the first for something like this, that may have been what threw me off.

Wednesday: We had a guest this week: Joss Richer, who's a sculptor living in F'ton (originally from Montreal). Among other things, he volunteers at the Charlotte Glencross Gallery, where my class is having it's show in less than a month. He talked about the gallery, it's layout, and the ins and outs of showing there.

In Research, Drew ended up giving us another week to work on our projects. I used it to try out some plug-ins that I meant to try out earlier, but somehow never got around to. One of them still doesn't work (it's probably in the wrong location), so I'll ask Drew about that.

Thursday: Just before I started to write about this day yesterday, I kept asking myself, "what did we do that day? What did we talk about in class?" And then it came to me: I couldn't remember because there wasn't a class that day! All we had to do was meet with Peter. Naturally, I used that unexpected freedom to do homework.

During our meeting, Peter critiqued the PowerPoint that I'd put together: change this photo and this photo, add photos here, etc.

As usual, I skyped with Helen that evening. We talked about the independent-study project that I'm developing for Peter's class, and I think she's about as excited about it as I am. She even jumped in with ideas of her own. I'm picky about ideas from other people because sometimes those people take my idea and twist it around so that it ends up going in a different direction that I'm not intending to take: changing the subject, etc. But this time I actually added her ideas to the list of info that I've put together. Helen's ideas stayed within the realm of what I wanted to, but they also expanded it: I can add this subject, and that subject, etc. (And don't worry: I'll tell you what that idea is after I'm done talking about the week.)

Friday: I spent the afternoon working on homework, including my homework for Rod's class (I shot the FVA students as they went about the business of learning about film photography).

Saturday: Yesterday, the Met performed The Barber of Seville, and for the first time ever I wasn't late to that opera. I've seen the simulcast on PBS twice, but both times I was late to the broadcast. This time I was determined to listen to the whole thing: I really wanted to hear the MOO rock the overture. Though in a couple of sections, I expected to hear a good blast from the horn section, and I didn't. Whatever happened to "go big or go home," guys? But other than that, it was spectacular. Then again, I'm used to a specific version, and different orchestras play the music differently (like the BSO's October 23, '04 performance of Washington Post vs. André Rieu's recording of the same piece on his 2006 CD New York Memories: André's version is big and grand, whereas the BSO's has a clipped sound, and seems to bark, "up and at 'em! Feet on the floor! NOW!" Orchestra, yes, orchestra! I admit that I'm partial to the BSO's version, and have been for years.).

Sunday: I spent this morning being lazy, watching a couple of documentaries, and figuring out some shots for my next project. But eventually I ended up at the school, as I'm a lot more productive when I'm in the Photo Studio then when I'm in my dorm room.


Now, about that project that I'm prepping for.

First off, it's totally different from anything else I've ever done. Because many people still don't know what Harper has up his sleeve, and don't pay attention to the goings-on on Parliament Hill, I've decided to do a video about things like Bill C-30 (the Lawful Access Bill), Bill C-11 (which I talked about a couple weeks ago), and cuts to the arts and public services. And then I'll post it to YouTube and Vimeo--and hope that it'll go viral.

The video probably won't have much talking, letting the images speak for themselves. I'll probably have some text, though (probably some excerpts from the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, as well as short explanations of parts of the laws in question). I'll get music from a site that has Creative Commons-licensed tracks.

I'll also talk about how social programs are being cut, as are the arts, Environment Canada, and scientists are being asked to not publish parts of studies--or to not publish those studies altogether.

Even after the Orange Wave last election (which had the second-lowest turnout in Canadian history), most Canucks remain uninformed about Harper's plans for Canada. The prime minister is intent on moulding this country into one that's unrecognizable to it's citizens. I love Canada dearly, and I'm proud of what we've accomplished (universal health-care!)--but I'm not proud of Canada in it's current form. I'm not proud to be a Canadian--and I'm downright angry with the federal government.

I've spent the last few days compiling a Word document (notebook layout) filled with ideas, resources and topics that I might cover.

As is the case just about every time I contemplate an idea like this--something that's definitely outside the "safe" zone--I'm unsure about whether or not I should do whatever it is that I'm thinking of doing. I've had those thoughts about this project, but as Helen said on Thursday, by doing this project, I'm joining the long tradition of commenting on the political or current events of the day. If that isn't validation of my project, I don't know what is.

And besides: I've done political art before.

And because I can't resist:

Rabbit of Seville from TravisD on Vimeo.

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