Sunday, September 23, 2012

here's to another 125 years!

Just when I thought I couldn't fall any more in love with NSCAD--I have. This school is amazing, not just because it's one of the best art schools in Canada, but because it also has a great atmosphere and a "get off your butt and get involved in your community" attitude. And the school knows how to have fun. NSCAD, I love you!

Monday: So far, I've been doing a lot of work at the place where I'm living, rather than going to NSCAD to work on stuff. Partly it's because I live an hour's walk from the Granville campus. But on Monday, SUNSCAD had a teach-in about the school's financial situation, so I ended up at school on my day off. Right now NSCAD is in debt and has a significant deficit, which was largely caused by people who were supposed to be in charge not doing their jobs. And also the Nova Scotia government (NDP, though they could pass for Conservative) doesn't see why NSCAD is so important, why the arts are so important, and that contributed to the current situation. Last year it was so bad that NSCAD could've closed it's doors for good. But SUNSCAD has fought hard to keep the school open and to kick out the staff who were being irresponsible, including the last president, who was anything but available during this whole ordeal. Two members of CLASSE--the student organization behind the Canadian Spring strike--also spoke. They talked about the events leading up to the strike, and how it happened. The premier at the time, Jean Charest, proposed the tuition hikes way back in '10, and the students tried every possible method of making their voices heard--going on strike was a last resort. When they took questions, I asked what was next for the students, what with a new premier, Pauline Marois (Parti Québécois), who was elected earlier this month. I knew that the tuition hikes have been cancelled for now, but I wanted to know what else was happening and what CLASSE was up to. Marois and her government are going to negotiate with the students, and try to find a solution that both the students and the provincial government can agree to.

Afterward, I talked with one of the students who's actively involved in SUNSCAD because I want to be more involved than I am right now. Simply being a member of SUNSCAD isn't enough for me, now that I know about all the awesome stuff that they do, whether it's teach-ins or days of protest, and I want to be involved. Also, I'll only be here for a year: if I don't run, I know I'll regret it for the rest of my life.

I spent the rest of the afternoon doing homework for Intro Photo.

Tuesday: This week, we were introduced to that awesome camera known as a twin-lens reflex or TLR, and NSCAD's lighting studio and hot lights. Although I've logged about ten gazillion hours in NBCCD's photo studio, I'm starting from rock bottom again. But since it's a different school, with a different lighting studio setup, I think it's a good thing. Even their hot lights are a different brand and shape. And they're terracotta coloured, rather than black. And whereas the black and white backdrops were secured to the floor at NBCCD, at NSCAD they're stored close to the ceiling and you pull whichever one you want down with a chain. The best part: their product table is very sturdy and isn't held together with tape. And it has wheels on the back legs!!!!!!!! You know you're a photographer when you get excited about wheels on product tables. However, NSCAD's lighting studio has the same issue that NBCCD's does: the ceiling is too low, and I won't be doing any jumping shots anytime soon.

That evening, I shot the first half of the assignment. Another thing about NSCAD's lighting studio is that it's always booked. Working with the TLR is a bit different than with an SLR because everything is backwards in the viewfinder, and I found it a bit disorienting.

Wednesday: We started a larger project this week: making a book using Coptic binding. This week we just made the covers.

After class, I processed the roll that I'd shot the night before.

Thursday: This week, we critiqued each others' projects, which were due. However, we ran out of time, and will finish the crit this coming Thursday.

One of the things I love about art school is that there's art in places where you'd least expect it. NBCCD's photo studio has a photo from a contact sheet stuck to a random beam, and in the classroom where Photography Beyond the Frame is, there are several drawings of Ethernet sockets pinned to the wall, high enough that whoever pulled the stunt off would've needed a ladder to do it. I asked Bob about them, and according to him those drawings have been there for several decades.

Friday: Some of us (including yours truly) hadn't done that week's reading (I'd completely forgotten about it), so we read it in class and then discussed it. We also watched Koyaanisqatsi, and then discussed that. The movie completely blew me away and overwhelmed me. It's beautiful, thrilling, contemplative, and even a bit sad. The word "koyaanisqatsi" means "life out of balance" in Hopi, and that's exactly what the film depicts. The music is by Philip Glass, and it also contributes to the feeling of being overwhelmed by the movie. There's no dialog. A few of my classmates said that the movie depicted humanity as bad and nature as good, and I also got that feeling. It's something that I believe, anyway. To quote the alien in Contact, "You're capable of such beautiful dreams, and such horrible nightmares."

Saturday: ANNAversary Weekend! And another one of those "I'll only be at NSCAD for a year--so I should immerse myself in as much NSCAD culture as I can" situations. So I volunteered for ANNAmotion LOGOmotion, which recreated Robert Harris' portrait of Anna Leonowens and NSCAD's "125" logo using large painted boards. I arrived at Citadel Hill, where the performance was to take place, around eleven--about half an hour before I was supposed to, and walked around the hill (which is big) looking for people who looked like they may be involved in the flash mob. Eventually, I spotted a familiar face, got crossed off the list of people who'd signed up, given a sticker with a number (137 M) on it and a pixel. After standing around for a while, wondering what to do next, I found my row, and waited some more. I also practised flipping the pixel with my row.

Shortly after noon, we walked and squelched our way (it was very foggy, as you can see in the video) to the Duke St. side of the Hill. We then did several variations of raising the pixels and flipping them. After that, we paraded single-file on the sidewalk over to the Granville Campus, where we assembled in the plaza outside the university and did the pixel flip, as Bob calls it, again. We then chanted "NOVA SCOTIA NEEDS NSCAD!" and "ONE, TWO, FIVE!" After that, we posed for a group photo. Steve Farmer, who teaches part-time at NSCAD and took all the faculty and staff photos for the website, took the still photos at both locations.

Throughout the event, there were several moments where I felt like crying because I was so proud to be affiliated with NSCAD, and proud to be a part of this once-in-a-lifetime experience. Eventually I couldn't hold it in any longer, and I cried a bit.

By the way, I'm the woman in the bright yellow raincoat. In ANNAmotion LOGOmotion I'm in the front row.

After the event, I headed home, stopping at a patisserie that I'd discovered while parading over to Granville. I spent the rest of the day doing homework and other things that needed to get done.

Sunday: I spent today finishing the reading for Intro Photo, skyping with my parents (including discussing with Tom whether to migrate or do a clean install of my stuff when my new computer comes. We decided to migrate some things, e.g., iPhoto and Firefox, and do a clean install of others), catching up on my podcasts and YouTube subscriptions and writing this post.

Tomorrow I'm going to start on my next project for Beyond the Frame. The theme this time is documents and documentary photography, so I've decided to do a piece documenting my NSCAD experience so far.

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