The Analog Medium

Why do I love analog media?

There is something incredible about being able to hold a tangible form of art in your hand. About the meditative ritual of picking a record off of a shelf, admiring the art, and watching as the black disc unleashes the music that is stored on it. There is no digital artifice involved; the pieces created take up physical, real space. They have emotions, memories, a history attached to them. And they are imperfect. They get scratches, dents, dusty, and reflect a real. They are not digitally perfected, cold and exacting.

It allows us to disconnect, as well. To take a step back from the increasingly all-encompassing digital world of social media and servers in a distant land that contains all. The physical media forces us into the present, into what we are doing. The process of production, viewing, listening, was created to only do one thing. It causes us to have greater care and appreciation for this media because there are no copies, it is not infinitely reproducible. You possess one of the copies, perhaps, but there are a limited number. People and objects, not electricity and microprocessors were involved in the creation of that art. And the vinyl is played right before our eyes; the photograph is exposed when we click the shutter. It allows us to connect more deeply to what is happening because we can more easily understand what is happening.

Analog media are one of the last true connections to capturing the real world around us using the real world itself.

This photo was taken at CJSR, where I work, and where I love to sit, think, and stare at all the music stored. Every song takes up space. It’s almost as good as actually listening to them.

Take it For Granted

We take them for granted all the. Don’t forget that, in the words of Harrison Ford, “nature doesn’t need people, people need nature.” Plastic and fossil fuels (all connected Alberta’s favourite export) are killing the earth. In the end, we’re killing ourselves. What do people gain from denying climate change? They get to pretend everything is okay or continue to profit off of draining the life from the only thing that keeps us alive. It’s not like we have another option.

Journalism Now; or, Rewatching Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

Everyone wants to be Hunter S. Thompson. At least, that ‘s the way I feel (probably because I want to be him too.) Realistically, I don’t think that it is possible to recreate what he did. The drug-fuelled romp of the ’60s is over, and now journalism demands constant professionalism, attentiveness, and reliability. People can’t find the time in their day to read long-form stories anymore, let alone book-length features. The crazed version of gonzo journalism that he pioneered- one that favoured DIY methods, and a ‘method acting’ type of writing in which the journalist is a part of the story- while perhaps still prevalent in our society (look at the success of Vice) is mostly dead. Drugs, sex, and rock n’ roll are no longer shocking or thrilling. Instead, they’re an accepted- even encouraged- part of society.

So what can a journalist do now? How can we bring about the same fresh and exciting methods that Thompson, breaking free from the academic constraints of APA formatting and inverted-pyramid style hard news in your municipal newspaper, did?

He took risks, and I suppose that is what we have to do now. Journalists have to tell stories that no one else is talking about, and not be afraid to cast off the professional facade we are expected to adopt. There is something to be said for inserting not only you but your persona into the work you do. Write so that the journalism is still valid, but make it a reflection of your personality. Do something that no one else is doing. I feel like because the news cycle is so quick, journalists no longer have the chance to get lost in, or truly explore a story. Although it is important to have a structure to your life: to plan, budget, pay the bills, and cover the local hockey scores, there is still room for what I believe journalism is. Journalism is about telling someone else’s stories, it is about experiencing life through another lens. How can we truly capture life at its core, the messy disaster that we all experience, when we are approaching these events in a cold academic manner?

Then I suppose that one of the key issues is treating journalism like a job and nothing more. When in reality, people want to read about the stories of others, to know what is truly happening around the world and in their own backyards. There will always be a place for hard news; the importance that we all are aware of what is happening is universal. Especially if the events are life- or society-threatening. Journalists just can’t forget to make time to experience life away from the office, the page, and the professional constraints. Public trust in journalism is worryingly low right now. Perhaps it would help to infuse some truthful, unpolished glimpses of life every now and then.

Take a risk.

What Am I Doing This Week?

(also protest update)

Due to the sheer volume of organizations that we are trying to contact, and because it’s just that time of year (there really isn’t any Xmas In February, Lou Reed), the protest is going to be postponed. The postponing is probably for the best because it is supposed to be cold again this Wednesday.

Just in case the cabin fever is starting to get to you, here are a few events that I am going to be checking out (indoors) to pass this deep freeze. Vitamin D season is only a few short months away. Almost there.

 

PhotoEd Magazine Pecha Kucha Night

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Source: Metro Cinema

 

I am covering this event for the griff, MacEwan’s student newspaper. According to the description on the venue’s, Metro Cinema, website, it is a night celebrating “storytelling, and what draws a photographer to their subject.” People of all skill levels are welcome. This all-Canadian lineup of photographers have only 20 seconds to talk through 20 of their images. This is where the name “Pecha Kucha” comes from, or “the art of concise presentations.” It starts at 7pm on February 12th at the Metro Cinema, 8712 109 St. Tickets are $15 for adults, $10 for students, children, and seniors. Tickets can be found here.

 

Coral Plaza Art Show

This art show is being held at Coral Plaza, a still fresh and independent venue that, according to their website, “is a DIY space dedicated to creating space for everyone and ensuring proper representation in every event we host.” It’s a fantastic and interesting venue that is worth checking out. The art show, happening this Friday, promises “local artists in a new art space for an exhibition of a variety of artwork representing a varied selection of local artists. Featuring special guests GirlsClub DJs from 9pm – late!” Coral Plaza is 6768 99th St. Doors are at 7pm, and tickets are $5.

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Source: Coral Plaza Art Show Facebook Event Page

The World Before Your Feet

A documentary about New Yorker Matt Green, this documentary screened by the Metro Cinema as part of their Doc of the Month series is a love letter for one of the most diverse and iconic cities in the world. Green goes on a trek of New York, “from the heart of Harlem to the marshes of Staten Island,” in a “pursuit of anything that catches his eye, be it a national landmark or a humble manhole cover.” I am excited to see it, for no other reason than to virtually explore one of the most incredible cities in North America through the eyes of Green and many other New Yorkers with their own stories to tell. This film shows on February 13, at 7pm. Tickets are $13 for adults and $10 for students. Metro Cinema is 8712 109 St.

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Source: The World Before Your Feet Official YouTube trailer

Hope to see you around.

Protests, and Doing Anything You Can

The devastating invasion of Wet’suwet’en by CoastalGasLink and the expansion of their pipeline to the coast has largely been forgotten by the media, it seems. That doesn’t come as much of a surprise, based on the speed of the news cycle. Now we have our friend and fantastic councillor Jon Dziadyk to worry about, among other things. Despite these massive infractions on a sovereign and autonomous part of Canada, and the fact that Alberta churns out both thinly-veiled racist and anti-environment protests in the form of our own bastardized Yellow Vest Movement, Alberta hasn’t really done their (our) part. Our part being taking action alongside the rest of the world, akin to what is happening in Europe with the prodigious Greta Thunberg; she is the de facto leader of the revolution to save the planet happening across the continent currently.

So what do we do about it? What do we, as students, as young people, as people who have to live on this planet for the rest of our new lives, and who, frankly, have to shoulder the responsibility that the Boomer Throwaway generation decided was too much work for them, do? Good question. Anything. I know that most of us are overworked, overtired, underpaid and underfed, but something has to be done. After all, we only have 12 years.

So a friend and I have decided to organize a protest. A protest that seeks to call out the new pipeline, the violation of consent, the rise of anti-immigration and persistence of ignorant anti-environmentalism in Alberta, among other things. The tentative date is Wednesday, February 13th, at around 4:00 pm. The location will be the Legislature. And everyone is welcome and invited! More details to come soon.

That mountain in the photo ain’t gonna be covered in snow for too much longer if things keep heating up (also summer is coming soon.)

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Overcoming Artistic Barriers Through Self-Action: ᐋᒋᒧᐃᐧᐣ – Acimowin

Indigenous art show to run in Edmonton this weekend

Two Edmonton artists are hoping to create equal representation for Indigenous artists through the best way they know how: doing it themselves. Marcus Thunder and Allysa Pierre are the curators of an Indigenous art show happening in Edmonton entitled ᐋᒋᒧᐃᐧᐣ – Âcimowin. Âcimowin (pronounced “a-chi-mO-win”), which according to the two means ‘story’ in Cree, is an attempt to encapsulate the intentionally theme-less show.

Pierre went in-depth to describe the process of naming the event. “We were trying to find something that would tie a bunch of works of art together, and what we figured when we were first starting off with the show was not to have a theme, because having a theme creates barriers, which is the opposite of what we wanted to do with this. Story just kind of grouped everything together an umbrella term for it, because we are creating a story for the art through what we’re doing.”

At the last show Pierre curated, the two noticed a severe lack of Indigenous representation, and felt a responsibility to further the destruction of barriers in the art world by calling upon Indigenous artists to create a representative show with them.

Thunder discussed the underrepresentation within Edmonton’s arts community. “I think it’s important because being an Indigenous person, I’ve never really seen an art show that is exclusive to Indigenous artists.”

Pierre elaborated on the significance of Thunder’s idea. “It kind of came to our attention that there isn’t a lot of Indigenous representation at shows that we have been to or been a part of, that’s kind of what brought us to this. There are so many Indigenous artists in Edmonton itself, all over Canada, all over the world, but for some reason people aren’t doing the work to have them equally represented. The show could’ve happened a really long time ago by somebody else, but it hasn’t. Working to make more events inclusive like this because inclusivity isn’t a one time deal, it’s something that should work towards constantly, until it becomes the norm. Because if it’s not, then what are we doing?”

What are Thunder and Pierre aiming for in the long run? Thunder said they hope to “inspire more local artists to put their work out there,” to take the risk regardless of the exclusive atmosphere living in a  “pretty conservative city” can put on an artistic scene. Thunder went on: “[Indigenous peoples] already face a lot of barriers in this society, so I would just hope to inspire more Indigenous artists to get out there and work hard.”

The event, which includes music, film, photography, painting, starts at 6:30 p.m. on this Saturday, Jan. 26. It is being held at Coral Plaza, 6768 99 Street, $15 admission. Tickets can be purchased from their Eventbrite page, or at the door (cash only).

Nuit Blanche: Bringing new light and humanization to downtown

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By Ben Hollihan

There was a strong reinfusion of non-hockey goer life in Edmonton’s downtown this weekend. Nuit Blanche, Edmonton’s version of the all-night art festival that began in Paris during 2002, was on Saturday night. Well, Saturday night to Sunday morning. This year’s festival went on from 7pm-7am, with thirty projects divided into ten large installations in the theme of Light and Illumination, focussing on gentrification, and the cost of beauty in our city. The festival spanned a large portion of central downtown, from 96th Street in Chinatown to the EPCOR tower. The projects ranged from giant interactive projections to spinning lights, a tunnel of spiral glow to experimental electroacoustic music. Another installation was titled Vignettes, a series of different spaces filled with art inspired by Jay-Z to Alice in Wonderland.

I had a chance to sit down with the Board, Chair, and President of Nuit Blanche Edmonton, Todd Janes, to talk about the festival last Friday. If you do not know Todd’s name yet, you will soon. Over the past 3 years, Nuit Blanche Edmonton, under the guide of Janes, has been involved with Edmonton Design Week, Edmonton Culture Week, and their own separate festivals, which have attracted thousands of people cumulatively. Over the phone, we discussed the history of Nuit Blanche in Edmonton, the inception of the festival stemming from Todd, his two friends, and a late night of drinking- as good ideas often do- in 2013. The idea behind bringing Nuit Blanche to Edmonton was in part due to a feeling that many of the larger festivals had grown stale and lost their charm, it having been replaced with dollar signs. (looking at you, Folk Festival). Why name it after a pre-existing French festival though? Ideally, for recognition of the similarities between the two. An independent, globally interconnected grassroots festival. And a festival based on filling the night with light fits perfectly into Edmonton’s long dark winters.

There is something about Edmonton art that never fails to bring the city together. Janes recalled how even the first year brought out over 50,000 people. In the past there was always a large number of new families and new Canadians alongside the young (and old) hip, art-going crowd.  Janes talked about “quintessential moments” of the festival, moments when the magic of being present in a large crowd, all flocking to observe and absorb the art, brought Edmontonians closer together, such as the seizing of the street by pedestrians in 2015.

One of the issues that Janes wanted the festival to address was that of gentrification that is currently occurring in our downtown core. Janes mentioned how people are often suspect of contemporary art, and for good reason. Artists are so often viewed as a detached and privileged folk who become more concerned with fame and fortune than creating authentic art. It is ensured to be free. The idea is that these installations allowed us to view our downtown core differently, to examine the cost and meaning of developing (or forcing) beauty in our downtown core. Ideally, Janes hoped that we could learn more from our city by walking it, to humanize what is now becoming a downtown flooded with corporate glass giants.Janes mentioned one of the most important aspects of this festival for him, is to create accessible art that brings everyone together. This art is as much something to enjoy as it is something to make you think. Free through grants and sponsors, meant for everyone, and intended to be without pretention, this is more of the art that Edmonton needs if we wish to keep the spirit of our city alive during a time of immense change to our architecture and core.

 

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