Guerilla Mag Ottawa, Metis Media Fest 2008

Metis Media Fest 2008 reviewed in Ottawa’s Guerilla Magazine piece “Old Cultures, New Tech”.

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Tony Martins features the 2008 Metis Media Fest in the September Issue #17 of Ottawa’s Guerilla Magazine in a piece entitled “Old Cultures, New Tech”.

The article ran as follows: Besides taking him around the world, Graham Thompson’s inter-cultural video and film projects have directly exposed him to the issues that threaten indigenous peoples in many countries.

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On Valentine’s Day 2005, at the start of a planned inter-cultural exchange sponsored by the Canadian Embassy in Manila, one of several bombs was detonated two blocks from Thompson’s hotel room. The bombings were what rebel group “Abu Sayyaf” called retribution for government assaults in the southern Philippines, a flash point of resistance since Spanish colonial efforts in the 1500s. In the bombings, 11 people were killed and 160 injured.

 

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A member of the Métis Nation of British Columbia (of Cree and Scottish heritage), Thompson sought to share and explore his Aboriginal experiences closer to home when he directed the first Métis Media Fest in August of 2007 at Club SAW. The success of that effort led to an expanded 2008 festival that took place September 6 and 7. Guerilla asked Thompson to write about the development and success of his Métis Media Fest—an intriguing mix of age-old cultures and leading-edge technology.

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Métis Media Fest 2007 featured 50 videos, 25 digital images and 10 audio tracks from Aboriginal artists in Canada, the U.S., Australia, Peru, and the Philippines. The event was an immersive installation of computers and video displays, where excerpts of the works were shown on the main screens and unedited versions archived on the computers within the installation. Audiences gathered at tables in the darkened space, lit only buy the glow of 13 video displays, to view a collage of works that ranged from traditional to experimental.

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This year’s festival followed a similar format, but the Aboriginal artists were all from the local region. The thrust this year was to explore social media and build a strong sense of local artists that belong to our growing Aboriginal urban population. The 50 videos depicted local fiddle players, jiggers, sculptors, painters, elders, lodge keepers, and poets.

Many of the videos were developed as collaborative projects, where I would interview local artists, elders, and writers in their studios, homes, or places of work. Often the artists would perform or otherwise share their work as we filmed. We developed 50 short videos ranging from one to 10 minutes in length, appropriate for viewing in an installation or on web sites such as YouTube, Facebook, and MétisFestival.com—the final destinations for the content after the festival.

Métis Media Fest is largely a social networking experience: people gather around computer nodes to compare choices and experience the work. In keeping with an informal Métis gathering where people of many cultures and traditions come together, the festivals unfold in “Indian time”—in unscripted fashion, without strict adherence to a fixed schedule. The festivals begin and end with the ebb and flow of its participants.

Inspired by the 400-year-old Métis society involving the Cree, Scottish, Ojibway, French and Saulteaux (to name only a few of the participants in the historic fur trade that shaped early Canada), the festival celebrates a unique culture that is a hybrid of European and Aboriginal civilizations.

The festival adheres to the Métis sense of adventure and innovation whereby European technology was adapted to the Canadian wilderness, leading to new forms of transportation, hunting, clothing, music, dance, art, and spirituality. Examples of such adaptation include the York boat, the Red River cart, the Métis buffalo hunt, flower design leather clothing, Métis fiddle music, and Métis dance known as jigging.

In further keeping with Métis tradition, the 2008 festival incorporated the traditional use of the circle (in this case, a ring of video displays) found in Aboriginal ceremonies such as the sweat lodge and the talking circle. The mix of technology included digital DVD players, hypertext interfaces, microcomputers, and video projectors.

Juxtaposition of technology and Aboriginal traditional knowledge is not unusual in today’s indigenous digital culture. In the remote southwestern edge of the Filipino archipelago, for example, the work of Aboriginal video artist Kanakan-Balintagos documents the most sacred rituals of his Palawan tribe in an effort to secure their ancestral domain claim in the Philippines.

In a sense, the Métis Media Fest was designed to incorporate traditional knowledge to help satisfy a growing need for spiritual unity on our shared planet. The experience of art seated in ancient tradition becomes a doorway to the experience the “oneness” of the universe—what Carl Jung described as the couplings of the inner subjective and the outer objective reality evolved through the influence of the archetypes, patterns inherent in the human psyche and shared by all of mankind.

The festival could not have happened without the generous support of Club SAW, SAW Video, the Government of Canada’s Canada Heritage Department, the City of Ottawa, P4 Social Venture Entrepreneurs, and Dakima Marketing and Communications of Ottawa. Métis Media Fest 2008 depended heavily on volunteers for everything from video shoots to installation set-ups to internet marketing and has been blessed by supporters from Francophone, Aboriginal, Pakistani, East Indian, African, and Yemen communities in the local region.

Asifa Akbar, a lawyer from South Africa, captured the feeling: “I think it’s great and so Canadian that we have people from such diverse backgrounds working on helping to preserve and promote one of the cultures unique to Canada, and that in effect spells out what it means to be Canadian.”

Some of the Ottawa-based artists featured in Métis Media Fest 2008

  • Jaime Koebel, from Lac La Biche, Alberta, is a Métis dancer (jigger)      with the dance group “Jig on the Fly.” As an MA candidate at the School of       Canadian Studies at Carleton University, Jaime has a strong focus on      Aboriginal youth issues in the context of indigenous knowledge, arts, and      culture.
  • Raymond Girard, a Francophone composer and performer from      Sturgeon Falls, Ontario, has performed on the Easter Seal Telethon on CBC      and hosted numerous episodes of the line-dancing show “Dancer, Dancer” on       Rogers Television. From his roots-music CD entitled Êtes-vous prêt pour, the “Lumber Jack” song has      become the most-played Franco-Ontarian video on YouTube.
  • Paul Brunneau, an Ojibway sculptor, has sold pieces to collectors in      Denmark, Italy, Mexico, Bahamas, Germany, and the United States. His work       has been featured on CTV’s Regional Contact, at the Muskoka Fine Arts      Summer Show, and at the Stone Carver’s Show in Bancroft Ontario, where he      exhibited a 4,000-pound piece made entirely of marble.
  • Anita Tuharsky, a Métis poet from Regina, Saskatchewan, is      often compared to Lily Tomlin for her use of humour to express the      absurdities of life. For Tuharsky, “Problems are challenges are lessons      are opportunities are gifts.”
  • Willy Bruce, an artist of Anishinabe and Scottish descent, is a      native veteran, a pipe carrier and a carrier of the Aboriginal Veterans’      Eagle Staff. Willy is currently lodge keeper at the Circle of Nations       Learning Centre at Natural Resources Canada. His traditional works are      conceived as vehicles for Aboriginal teachings.

Centre international d’art contemporain de Montréal

Centre international d’art contemporain de Montréal, Retrospective of net.art features North-South-East-West, 2008.

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The Centre international d’art contemporain de Montréal’s Electronic Magazine,  issue No 32 a Retrospective of net.art, features North-South-East-West Web Site in December 2008.

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The North-South-East-West web site was reviewed as follows:

COSMOGONY ALGONKINE CACHÉE/MONTRÉE?

About the well-known work of Graham Thomson, North-South-East-West, we will recall his operating mode first of all, like its organization.     With the opening of the URL an interface of reception informs us of the format of the work, carried out under Flash.

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If the hyperlector chooses not to have any action, it will discover a sequence of four distinct sequences:

  • a very fast succession of images lets to us guess a plan of country, or city. It is necessary to make use of several captures of screens, then to increase them, to realize that the plan in question is that of the Contracting State of Minnesota (or of the state), the USA. Area bordering, should it be pointed out, of the Canadian provinces of Manitoba and Ontario, ancestral grounds of Algonkins;
  • an anthropomorphic figure, that one will be able to associate a totemic representation, becomes animated on a bottom of horizontal screens. A cube drawn in three D also rolls on the space representation which this screen constitutes;
  • in tone bluish, dark, a heavenly object occupies the bottom of a scene which seems left an space-opera. A hinged jib (Canadian technology?) approaches a unit which could be a space base;
  • finally, of the parabolas, fixed on pylons, roofs, seem to receive waves coming from the sky.   Once the hyperlector will have shelled dissolve-connected these four sequences, it will have to click on one or the other of the bonds hypertexts to discover a new interface – which will give him access to the contents of work itself.

In a very simple way, and as many works born on the Web could show it to us, the interface of work is appeared as a space metaphor. In top north, bellow the south, on the left the west and is on the right.

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Under each of the four cardinal points, a list from five to eight names proposes to us, thanks to the hypertext link, to discover an animated sequence. Before returning on their contents, we stop a few moments on another element of the interface, which will be always present at the screen, méta-bars it navigation. The choices suggested by this méta-bar are as follows, rather similar to those which one can find on considerable sites: exit, home, contact, information.

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The subparagraph “information” will teach us that work is inspired by the symbolic system of the cardinal points traditional of the people algonkin. One will not be thus surprised to have discovered only the plan which ravelled at any speed in introduction was that of a state in the past (and also in a contemporary way) populated algonkins.

All work then, can be included/understood starting from this aspect of the introduction. The history of the American settlement being supposed known of all, one could only be sensitive to the fact that the people algonkin, like all the indigenous people of two Americas, have a report/ratio with the eminently problematic territory, conflict, even painful.

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This territory, that the Amerindian people had by force to divide with Europeans, it is represented here in extreme cases of the visible one. So much so that one is forced to fix the image by capture of screen, to discover that it was about a plan of Minnesota.

The territory, literally, is hidden, virtual. It is in addition the territory of the other, since the place names are for the majority resulting from the Anglo-Saxon space representation: Cambridge, Turkey Not, Normandale, etc… It is a case emblematic of the use of information technologies and communication – where the appearance and disappearance as well as the tape speed of the images make direction.

This territory hidden, evoked perhaps by this totemic dance of the introduction, then moved in the space, and finally reinvested on ground through the waves received by parabolas, the body of work then proposes to us to discover it.

It while clicking on different the items is contained under the headings North South – East – West that we will be able to open the sequences having for name:    winter, snow, elder, courage, ice, endurance (North), summer, spirit, quest, secrecies, bloom, vision, adolesence, youth (South), birth, dawn, spring, flower, sun (East), automn, adult, thunder, sunset, renewal, (West).

With the choice, one will stop on the sequence “Vision”, in the North heading, to hear the message whereby “Vision C not reveal”; or one will hear, in “Dawn” this thought animist “All that belongs to the earth belongs to me”. But there is not the essence of our reading: the quality of animations, of the spoken or sung sequences, all that is left with the appreciation of each visitor, according to his sensitivity. It will be noticed only that none the many rewards received by this work is usurped.

What must hold our attention, it is connect it simplicity of the device, behind which semiotics questions differently more complex hide.

The list of the items reproduced above informs us indeed that certain sequences are called in reference to the season (winter…) and in connection with such or such cardinal point; other sequences indicate natural phenomena (snow, ice, flower, sun, thunder); others milked in the human condition (elder, adolesence, youth, birth, adult); others still refer to human or animal qualities (courage, endurance…); and others finally with phenomena of calendarity (dawn, sunset, renewal).

What it is necessary to point of the finger, it is the extreme diversity of the items and the extremely different registers which they indicate: natural seasons (long calendarity), phenomena, age group, human and/or animal quality, short calendarity.

Consequently, the action to click on one or the other of these items, and the surprise to each time discover a different sequence by its setting in image, the absence or the presence of a said text, etc… puts the hyperlector in a situation of imbalance with the project openly announced by the work – which is, let us recall it, inspired of the symbolic system of the cardinal points of the nation algonkine. How indeed to build a knowledge of this cosmogony if no methodology is proposed by the author – and whereas we are in a new mode of expression?

Moreover, one will notice the readily enigmatic character of certain sequences – which seem to function according to a logic well more oneiric rational.

In short, none known in the past cognitive maps seems respected here: we find the linearity of the written text and its paratextuelle organization, neither the syntax of the cinematographic writing (fictional or documentary), nor the methodology of the museographic modes of exposure, etc…

It however remains that the work of Graham Thomson transmits a message well to us, and more still that a message the feeling to have shared a significant experiment.

The logic which seems to prevail is well more that of the dream – a dream directly connected to psyché of Amerindian people – a logic which one will be able to say transverse, for want of anything better for the moment.

It is perhaps the greatest quality of this work, which all at the same time enchants us in the most naive way, and reserves questions differently more difficult to us, having milked with semiotics, and the development of a specific critical language.

Xavier Malbreil

The Centre international d’art contemporain de Montréal Overview

The Centre international d’art contemporain de Montréal (CIAC) is a non-profit organisation administered by a board of directors and managed by personnel with an expertise in artistic production, communications and arts administration. The mandate of the CIAC is to disseminate contemporary art from Québec, Canada and abroad. Initially identified with the visual arts, the CIAC also showcases the creative practices of artists working in design, graphic art, art film and video, architecture and urbanism, and landscape architecture.

The CIAC’s aim is to make its activities accessible to the greatest possible number of visitors. It employs various strategies to achieve this, including exhibitions, conferences, discussions between artists and the public and educational activities for a variety of target groups. The CIAC has no permanent space for its activities. It temporarily occupies various locations suited to each event, whether a museum, an unused warehouse, a park or other public space, a gallery or exhibition venue, etc. First identified with the visual arts, the CIAC also disseminates the work of professionals in object design and graphic design, video and art film, architecture and town planning, architecture landscape.

From 1985 to 1996, the CWC was mainly noted for organizing the hundred days of Contemporary Art of Montreal.  In 1998, he set up the Montreal Biennale (BNL MTL), an international biennial included in the biennial network of major cities in the world. In addition to the organization of artistic events, the CIAC also carries out cultural work, aimed at an in-depth understanding of the stakes of contemporary art, which took the form of various programs of activities, in particular the annual competition Of Young Critics in Visual Arts (1997 to 2007).

Finally, the CIAC online edits the CIAC’s Electronic Magazine. This bilingual magazine (English and French) offers critical works and general information on active artists in the middle of the web art (or line art ) and the institutions that disseminate it.

National Gallery of Canada, Global Voices 2012

Global Voices 2012 at National Gallery of Canada, 37 paintings, 23 videos and 18 artists of Central Asia, Africa, the Americas, Cree and Mohawk Nations.

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The Global Voices 2012 event at the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa Canada featured 37 paintings, 23 videos and 18 artists of Central Asia, Africa, the Americas, Cree and Mohawk Nations, including musicians Eman the Warrior & the Abezamutima Burundian Traditional Dancers and paintings and videos by Sherry Tompalski and Graham Thompson respectively in December 2012.

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The Global Voices 2012 program featured:

  • Afghan Portraits and the Voices from Afghanistan video.
  • Native American Flute and World Beat composer David Finkle with Simon Handley (percussion, electronics) and  Andy W. Mason (percussion, guitar, vocals).
  • Iranian Portraits and a video of Iranian dancer Dr. Maria Modhaddam
  • The Abezamutima Burundian Traditional Dance Group
  • Residential School Portraits and the Irene Lindsay  video, Thomas Louttit video and Dr. Morgan Baillargeon (actor, costume designer and concept creator) in the Campfire, Tea and Bannock video
  • Eman the Warrior (Emmanuel Oletho) the Singer and Song Writer from Ethiopia
  • Central American Portraits and the Victor Fuentes and Tito Medina videos
  • Dr Lee’s West African Rhythms
  • Central American Portraits and the Delores of Guatemala video
  • African Portraits and Videos featuring the Hawa Kaba video and Hamid Ayoub vide

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Who Organized the Project?

The Global Voices 2012 Event was created and organized by Sherry Tompalski (painter) and Graham Thompson (videographer). The concept was based on the realization that many refugee artists and activists arrive in Canada with highly developed artistic skills and compelling personal stories of survival. As a result, the refugee’s work is uniquely suited to a multimedia presentation where audiences have the opportunity to see, to hear and to understand their personal accounts of, for example, walking across Chad, without food or money to escape the horrors of Darfur (Hamid Video).

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A Transcript of the Global Voices 2012 Event at the National Gallery of Canada

My name is Graham Thompson. I am a videographer. I am one of many artists you will see this evening. for 10 years we have created events involving art, dance, media and music, the projects have included over 100 separate artists. artists from Australia, Peru, Zimbabwe, Cameroon, the Philippines, Taiwan, Venezuela, Bolivia, Canada and the United States. This work has been shown in Taipei, Manila, Belgrade, Chicago, Melbourne, London, Vancouver and Toronto. we wanted to acknowledge the extreme challenges many people face in our complicated world and we wanted to have a focus on survival and renewal. IN ORDER TO CREATE THIS WORK we have been helped by a great many Embassies, NGOs, Universities, Museums, Government Departments and Arts Funding Agencies.

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Special thanks goes to: The Catholic Immigration Centre, The Canadian Red Cross, USC Canada, Ottawa Carleton Immigrant Services Organization, Odawa Friendship Centre, The Minwashin Lodge, Metis Nation of Ontario, The World University Service Canada, the University of Oxford in England, Carleton university, the University of Ottawa, York University, The United Nations, Library and Archives Canada, Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Canadian Trade office in Taipei, Canadian Embassy in Manila, The Canadian Embassy in Belgrade Serbia, Canadian Heritage, the Parliament of Canada, Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, The Canadian Museum of Civilization, The International TV Festival Bar Montenegro, the Coalition of New Canadians for Arts and Culture, Canadian Centre for International Justice, The City of Ottawa, the Ontario Arts Council, Canada Council for the Arts, SAW Video, the SAW Gallery and Donna Cona Inc

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A Transcipt of the Event

TONIGHT WE OFFER DANCE, ART, MEDIA AND MUSIC. Representing Afghanistan, Sudan, Burundi, Ethiopia, Iran, El Salvador, Guatemala, and the Cree & Mohawk Nations of Canada.

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WE  SHALL BEGIN  IN AFGHANISTAN. with the portraits, as shown on the screen,  of a family of refugees from KABUL. the paintings were created in Sherry Tompalski’s studio there were cameras covering the evolution of the artwork, and any comments the models wished to make we didn’t ask any questions, we simply let the people speak, if they wanted to for example, we will play 5 short videos from the sittings some people from the project, have requested that we use ONLY there first names. BAHARA from KABUL describes: a party which took place in her home which was invaded by patrolling soldiers as there  was a BAN on MUSIC. HER  BROTHER Remembers the escape from his village during an attack  in the Afghan war. HER other BROTHER Recounts his experience at the National football stadium where the Taliban used to publicly execute women accused of adultery. FATIMA who insisted that she not be photographed is shown through the creation of her portrait. Her story of 30 years of War in Afghanistan  is translated by Bahara.

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WE Move to Iran, on the screen you can see portraits of the Iranian Scientist and Folk Dancer Dr. Maria Modhaddam our work with MARIA includes portraits, videos and dance performances. The work was first shown in the PARLIAMENT OF CANADA in 2009, The event included speeches by the Honourable Jason Kenney, Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism and Abraham ABRAHAM the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees  in Canada. later we worked together at the University of Ottawa, As part of the 2nd Annual Conference of the Canadian Association for Refugee and Forced Migration Studies. in the following video, which features dance footage from her own archive, Maria talks about the life of a REFUGEE.

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IN PART 4, we feature the ABEZAMUTIMA  Burundian Traditional Dance Group the dance troop is made of highly experienced Burundian folk and traditional dancers. Through its artistic endeavors, the group hopes to share its heritage with communities and promote cultural diversity in the National Capital Region. ABEZA = beautiful inside, MUTIMA = heart or soul. Has anyone been to BURUNDI? Has anyone visited AFRICA? Burundi is located on the equator in eastern Africa.

IN PART 5, We move to CREE NATIONS  in SASKATCHEWAN and ONTARIO on the screen we see portraits of 5 participants in a project involving people who attended residential schools. I am grateful for the help of the Odawa Friendship centre and the Minwashin Lodge in helping with this section of the project. The Indian residential schools of Canada were a network of “residential” or boarding schools for First Nations, Metis, and Inuit funded by the Canadian government’s Department of Indian Affairs, and adminstered by Christian churches, according to wikipedia – The system had origins in pre-Confederation times. The last residential school was not closed until 1996. We have selected 2 video clips that will play after the portraits where IRENE LINDSAY and THOMAS LOUTTIT describe their experiences BOTH activists attended residential school  for 8 years after Irene and Thomas, we have a short instructional video showing a metis fur trader creating a campfire and tea and bannock on a winter’s day.

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IN PART 6  We MOVE to ETHIOPIA. Specifically, to a singer song writer called EMAN his music promotes peace, love and inspiration. Emmanuel Oletho was a refugee for three years in Kenya Yet, he was granted a scholarship to study at Carleton University through the World University Service of Canada. He is graduating in 2013 with Bachelor of political science. EMAN WILL SING – SHINE A LIGHT

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IN PART 7, We move to CENTRAL AMERICA, these portraits are refugee artists from Guatemala and El Salvador, we have selected 2 video clips for tonight that will play after the portraits. VICTOR, whose music you hear in the second video was almost killed in El Salvador in a torture chamber. TITO, whose music you hear in a video,  was just a kid when his songs got him into trouble in his home country Guatemala. some of the portraits were created with mixed media using a collage of sheet music from an Ottawa orchestra, symbolizing the person reassembling themselves in a new setting, in Ottawa. Some of the portraits have exported video frames from their videos clips, which symbolize the person having to reinvent themselves in their new country.

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In PART 8, we return to AFRICA, to listen to DR LEE’S WEST AFRICAN RHYTHMS Dr Lee  studied in Guinea, West Africa with renowned drum master Aboubacar Camara. Dr Lee has collaborated with the Cirque du Soleil and The Soul Jazz Orchestra. 2 YEARS AGO, Dr Lee performed with us at the National Library and Archives of Canada. the installation featured 65 works of art, 25 artists, 23 videos, 19 speakers, 13 NGOs & 2 plays.

PART 9, we return to CENTRAL Amerca, these portraits are created with graphite on paper and  ink and graphite on paper. AND we have selected 2 video clips, that will play after the portraits of the participants. The following video is NOT SUITABLE for YOUNG AUDIENCES, as there are graphic descriptions of violence Ms D, whose name is withheld by request, provides a detailed account of the destruction of her family during a labour dispute. Her story includes graphic details of her kidnap and imprisonment.

IN PART 10,  We again feature singer song writer EMAN, He is a voice for the voiceless. EMAN is an advocate for the poor, the victims of genocide, HIV orphans, and humanitarian related issues. EMAN WILL SING –  I AM A WARRIOR

IN PART 11  We look at portraits and videos of artists  from Guinea and Sudan we have selected 2 video clips that will play after the portraits of the participants that are shown on the screen. HAMID describes his escape from Sudan through the deserts of CHAD he Escaped, on foot, and without food, water or money. He trekked across the desert day and night, through small villages avoiding the main highways, and the possibility of detection. He survived a violent car jacking episode on his way to Niger. HAWA, who is A Refugee Artist from Guinea, West Africa, also tells her story…. she was sent to jail, because she filled out an application for a passport. In order to leave the jail, she was forced to sign a confession, that said she was a counter-revolutionary. HAWA exhibited paintings at the 2010 library and archives event.

IN PART 12 WE FEATURE COMPOSER DAVID FINKLE AGAIN, along with Simon Handley on percussion and electronics, and  Andy W. Mason on percussion, guitar, and vocals we have worked together since 2008 when David performed with NORTHERN VOICES in a large installation of 20 video screens and 8 computers. The installation featured 100 short videos of 30 aboriginal artists.

IN PART 13 we return to the ABEZAMUTIMA  Dance Group, the ABEZAMUTIMA Burundian Traditional Dance Group have created a 2nd dance for us this evening. Then  ALL MUSICIANS ON STAGE, DANCERS join musicians on stage, ALL speakers and behind the scenes people on stage playing available percussion instruments play a final song and dance.

I want to thank everyone for all their help and support in the creation of this GLOBAL VOICES 2012 event, including Sherry Tompalski, Petra Hawkes, Richard and Darren the Technicians, the national Gallery of Canada, The Abezamutima Dancers, David Finkle, Simon Handley, Andy W. Mason, Dr Lee, EMAN, the camera work of CE SOIR FILMS. This marks the end of our 10th international event in 10 years, involving over 100 artists from Asia, Africa, Europe and the Americas, tonight we have selected an overview of a project that contains over 50 portraits, and 5 hours of video. Thank you for coming tonight.

13th International TV Festival Bar Montenegro

Metis Media Installation videos presented at 13th International TV Festival Bar Montenegro 2008.

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Graham Thompson presented videos from the Metis Media Installation at the 13th International TV Festival Bar Montenegro in October 2008.

Videos from the Métis Media Installation were presented with an artist’s talk at the International TV Festival Bar Montenegro in October 2008. The presentation included videos “The Anishinabe Woman,” “The Four Directions Webcast,” “John Maracle,” “Willy Bruce,” “Raymond Girard” and “Paul Bruneau.”

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The International TV Festival Bar Montenegro is the largest television festival in South Eastern Europe was developed by visionary Ljiljana Ðindinovic, who created the annual event during the Balkans War in 1994 to help preserve ties between the nations of the former Yugoslavia.

Guerilla Magazine Ottawa, Talking Portraits

Talking Portraits reviewed by Tony Martins of Guerilla Magazine Ottawa, 2008.

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The Talking Portraits Series was review by the Guerilla Magazine of Ottawa Canada in an article entitled Portraiture by Intuition by Tony Martins in issue #8 in June 2008.

Portraiture by Intuition by Tony Martins

Do we create images of who we are on our own or through unseen collaboration with others? The “Talking Portraits” installations of wife and husband Sherry Tompalski and Graham Thompson use technology to capture a “co-creation” that is mostly invisible, highly intuitive, and quintessentially human.

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Rarely have I seen such compelling evidence of human intuition as I did on the morning I arrived at Sherry Tompalski’s studio to serve as subject for one of her portraits. I had met with the Tompalski and her husband Graham Thompson (both are Ottawa-based artists) a few weeks earlier over coffee to discuss possible treatments of their new multi-media collaboration in Guerilla. When Tompalski suggested that I could obtain a first-hand view of things by sitting for a portrait, I readily agreed and we began to make arrangements.

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The Talking Portraits series documents the creation of Tompalski’s oil-on-canvas portraits using three integrated components: the finished portrait; a time-lapse video of the portrait in the making; and an audio recording of whatever Tompalski’s subjects verbalize while beneath the gaze of the portraitist. As you may see in the three talking portraits we present here, the sum total is an almost spooky emergence of a distinct personality through shape, colour, image, and sound. Tompalski is a practicing psychiatrist. For her, the series serves as visual confirmation that “90% of what goes on between two people is unconscious”—an idea she credits to Daniel Stern, a professor of psychiatry and psychology and a noted expert in mother-infant relationship.

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In a slightly different sense, the Talking Portraits are an instance of co-construction, “the theory that there is a mutual reciprocal bi-directional interaction between two people that is unconscious,” explains Tompalski.

Which is sort of like a fancy way of saying intuition—which brings me back to that morning in Tompalski’s studio.

The smiling portraitist greeted me at the door and ushered me upstairs, where Thompson was attending to his video and audio set up. A 3×3-foot canvas was already positioned on an easel. It was nearly covered with large square swaths of purple paint.

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“This is the colour that reflects my impression of you after our first meeting,” explained Tompalski.

“Actually, purple is my favorite colour,” I replied.

“Well, there you go,” said Tompalski.

There was laughter and then knowing smiles all around. Simply by conversing over a cup of coffee, Tompalski and I had already begun to “co-create” my portrait. She had intuited the colour that best represents my conception of self and confidently used it as the foundation for the portrait.

Although Tompalski and Thompson have been married for 25 years, Talking Portraits is their first formal artistic collaboration. The idea began to take shape late last year, when the couple returned from an Asian tour where Thompson presented his digital artwork through a variety of new media installations.

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“Graham decided to document the series of large faces I was painting, as he was interested in capturing my intuitive approach to portraiture. We viewed the videos together, saw the possibilities, and began experimenting with voice tracks, music and time-lapse photography.”

On Friday, May 26, the Talking Portraits made a one-night appearance at Ottawa’s La Petite Mort Gallery. Previously, the Talking Portraits have appeared at the Red Salon Artists in Ottawa, the Bridge Street Gallery in Carleton Place, the Steam Whistle Gallery in Toronto (where the portrait “Sam” is in the permanent collection), and at the Ontario Psychiatric Association annual meeting in Toronto.

After the LPM show, the series was slated to appear at Ottawa’s Cumberland Gallery and Cube Gallery. The first international solo show of the Talking Portraits takes place at the ARC Gallery in Chicago in November and early December.

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Tompalski says the next phase in the Talking Portraits evolution will include a 90-minute ambient video version.

“The project will be shot in high definition video and the portraits will develop very slowly, in a hypnotic soothing way, and will be shown on a large screen,” Tompalski explained.

Recalling how I had yammered on about myself while sitting for my portrait, I wondered how other Talking Portraits subjects had behaved.

“I have no expectation that the person must talk, and as a result, there is a great deal of variety,” said Tompalski.

“For example, one woman sat for four hours and made only one comment. However that comment was extremely poignant and meaningful.”

Ottawa Carleton District School Board Metis Murals

Ottawa Carleton District School Board invites Metis Murals Project into their classrooms for Metis story telling, computer graphics and painted hardboards.

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In 2008 the Ottawa Carleton District School Board invited the Metis Murals Project into their classrooms. The multimedia project included Metis story telling and the creating of murals using archival images, drawings, collage, computer graphics and painted hardboard.

Have the Metis Mural Project at Your School

Large Scale Murals – Available for All Grades – Your students can design and develop a large scale mural based on the history of Canada – featuring stories of the Hudson’s Bay Company, the Scottish Fur Traders, the Métis, the Cree, the Orkney Islands, York Factory, Louis Riel, Gabriel Dumont and Chief Poundmaker.

Project Requirements – 5 Day Program – Each project must be a minimum of 5 days (25 hours). Each day is defined as 5 hours of artist-to-student work time. The 25 hours of artist-to-student time can be split up and extended over more than 5 days as long as the time is spent working with the same group of learners.

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MATERIALS LIST

  • photocopy 10 ARCHIVAL IMAGES per student
  • 1 scissors for each student
  • 3 – 17×11 construction paper for each student
  • glue sticks for each student
  • 500 sheets of  8.5X11 white paper
  • pencils for each student
  • 4’X8’ hardboard
  • gesso to prime the surface of each hardboard
  • 5 TUBS of non toxic acrylic paint (yellow, blue, red, white, green
  • 10 carpenters pencils for students (sturdy graphite pencils to mark design onto primered hardboard
  • 20 paints brushes that vary in size to paint hardboard.
  • 1 mercator projector

SCHEDULE

Day 1 – Research + Design Workshops (5 hour)

First Period. Hand-out photocopies. talk to student about the 5 day mural project. Give a 50 minute PowerPoint presentation The following topics are included in the presentation: The importance, in 17th century Europe, of the beaver hat The arrival of Scottish fur traders on the western edge of Hudson’s Bay. York Factory, as a fur trading center. The role of Aboriginal Women in their marriage to the newly arrived fur traders. The Métis as children of the fur trade. The Métis as middlemen in the fur trade The importance of pemmican in the new economy The Métis invention of the York Boat and the Red River Cart  The development of the Métis buffalo hunt. The development of Métis Clothing. The development of Métis Spirituality. The expansion of Canada into the northwest in 1869. The expansion of the transcontinental railway system westward. The movement of new Canadians into traditional Métis settlements. The battle of Duck Lake Saskatchewan, the site of the 1885 Northwest Rebellion. The trial of Louis Riel.

Period 2 + 3 The students break into groups to create collages from the ARCHIVAL IMAGES of Canada (First Nations, Metis, Fur Traders) ACTIVITY – develop collage art made from photocopies of archival images of Aboriginal people. Students will cut out archival images and glue them onto the construction paper in order to make a collage.

Period 4 + 5  ACTIVITY Develop drawings based on collage artworks. AS well student will opportunity to view videos, and create cartoons if they so desire. Students will at end of session present work infront of the class and group will vote as to who’s work gets made into a mural. Gesso the hardboard in preparation for the painting of the mural.

Day 2 – Mural Layout Workshop (5 hour)

ACTIVITY ( 5 Hours) Beak students onto groups, assigned to trace the selected design onto the hardboard. Project selected artwork onto 4X8 sheet of hardboard, and draw projected image onto hard board with pencils. Check work from a distance. Get feedback on the look of the image Make adjustments as required

Day 3 + 4 – Mural Painting Workshop (5 hours/day)

ACTIVITY ( 5 Hours/day) Move hardboard onto the floor and paint mural with acrylic paints onto hardboard. Clean up with water.

Day 5 – Mural Painting Workshop (5 hours/day)

ACTIVITY ( 5 Hours)  Finish painting murals on hardboards.  Review finished work and wrap-up project. Clean up with water.

FEEDBACK

Professional Development – “A valuable professional development opportunity that enabled me to develop new skills and approaches.”

Engages Students – “Graham was able to engage students who are not normally engaged, especially those with autism and developmental delays – Graham was highly successful in fine tuning his activities to the needs of the students in his approach to teaching visual arts. He also interacted with staff and students in a professional and caring manner. Graham’s interest in the youth and the topics he covered provided a rich artistic learning experience for our students.”

A Fresh Approach to History and Art – “I saw new tactics in the classroom, I saw what my kids were capable of – Graham did an excellent job directing and supporting the students. Thank you so much, this program was amazing!”

Aboriginal Peoples and the Fur Trade – “ The students were motivated by Graham’s media presentation on the historic Canadian fur trade and his approach to designing images from this period through the use of collage, hand drawings and paintings, he supported me to meet specific learning outcomes outlined in the arts curriculum, knowledge of elements, creative work and critical thinking, he created an additional opportunity for learners to collaborate, cooperate and celebrate their talents and each other – extremely effective, a huge sense of accomplishment for students and staff. I love the long term results!”

Regensburg Short Film Week, Bavaria Germany

Regensburg Short Film Week of Bavaria features Annick & Tony – A Talking Portrait Story in their 2007 Short Film Market.

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The Short Film Market of the Regensburg Short Film Week of Bavaria Germany featured the  Annick & Tony – A Talking Portrait Story video in 2007.

Annick & Tony – A Talking Portrait Story

Annick & Tony – A Talking Portrait Story is part of the Talking Portrait Series. The series was featured on CTV’s Tech Now program 6/11/2006. CTV’s coverage ran as follows: An art show is a chance to escape the multi-media world we live in and quietly view artwork– not anymore. Innovative Ottawa artists are adding audio and video as part of their art, called “Talking Portraits” Sherry Tompalski is stepping into new territory with the help of her husband Graham Thompson… Both are artists learning to deal with a new medium, wiring an art gallery for video and sound… this exhibit is about more than the finished portraits. While hanging the art is still an important step the canvas only tells part of the story… each work will be shown with video of the portrait sitting and audio clips of the conversation between subject and artist… Graham Thompson shot and edited the video AND he`s also created a sound track for each portrait with individual cd-players… the sound track is the artist and the portrait subject talking about the work while the painting was taking place. The next step is taking this beyond the walls of the gallery to a wider audience, and that`s the plan with Serry Tompalski`s website, you can watch the talking portraits… A recent showing in Ottawa was one night only, but the show goes international this fall with an exhibit in Chicago and it`s streaming live 24-7 on the web.

Regensburg Short Film Week of Bavaria Germany

There’s no such thing as THE short film. Yet the short film is there. It manifests itself in most wonderful multiplicity and vitality. It is a many splendoured thing, touching on all genres and techniques. It plays with abstract forms, tells stories, gives testimony and dares to experiment. It needs a shorter or longer time. It is made in kitchens, in studios, with analogue equipment or on the computer only. It is brought to life all over the world by film students who revel in their medium for the first time, by well-known film giants, and obsessive doers of handicrafts. It promises a lot and seldom lets us down; however, it is barely visible.

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Our competition selection

Each year we receive round about 6.500 entries in total and it is our responsibility to select the best of them as the International Short Film Week Regensburg aims to present an adequate and representative selection of the enormous diversity of the worldwide short film making in the international competition. For German films there is the German Competition and regional productions can be seen in the “Window To Bavaria” and “Window To The Region”. All competition claim to be up to date: the shown films are not older than two years.

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The special programs

Beside our competitions we curate special programmes and provide a platform for guest curators and specfic projects. Well known for several years are Cinema mi Vida, a retrospective on a short film artist, and Cinema mi Amor wich shows the influence of other short films on the curator’s work. Since our cooperation with the Goethe-Institut our special focus on a country has become much more political weight.

The Short Film Week Regensburg was founded in 1994 by the Arbeitskreis Film e.V. and takes place since then in an annual cycle. In the first year it was just a small experiment with one festival cinema. Today with up to four festival cinemas the International Short Film Week Regensburg is not just a firm institution in the cultural life of Regensburg but has become an inconceivable part of the international short film circuit.

CTV’s Tech Now features the Talking Portraits

CTV’s Tech Now Program, hosted by Colin Trethewey, features Talking Portrait Installation 2006.

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CTV’s Tech Now Program of Ottawa Canada,  hosted by Colin Trethewey, featured the Talking Portrait Installation, June 11 2006.

The CTV’s coverage of the Talking Portraits installation ran as follows: An art show is a chance to escape the multi-media world we live in and quietly view artwork– not anymore. Innovative Ottawa artists are adding audio and video as part of their art, called “Talking Portraits” Sherry Tompalski is stepping into new territory with the help of her husband Graham Thompson…

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Both are artists learning to deal with a new medium, wiring an art gallery for video and sound… this exhibit is about more than the finished portraits. While hanging the art is still an important step the canvas only tells part of the story… each work will be shown with video of the portrait sitting and audio clips of the conversation between subject and artist…

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Graham Thompson shot and edited the video AND he`s also created a sound track for each portrait with individual cd-players… the sound track is the artist and the portrait subject talking about the work while the painting was taking place.

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CTV Host Colin Tretheway’s Portrait by Tompalski

The next step is taking this beyond the walls of the gallery to a wider audience, and that`s the plan with Serry Tompalski`s website, on sherrypaints.info you can watch the talking portraits… A recent showing in Ottawa was one night only, but the show goes international this fall with an exhibit in Chicago and it`s streaming live 24-7 on the web.

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CTV Host Colin Thetheway sitting for his own Talking Portrait

CTV’s TechNow Program Backgrounder

In Paul Brent’s own words, the producer of TechNow program – “What a decade from 2001 to 2011. Consider the technology that we have come to take for granted, and so much of this has come about in the last ten years. It’s an unprecedented pace of change, and really shows few signs of slowing down. Covering all of it has been Tech Now, as we mark our tenth anniversary this year.  From iPhones to the iPod, from Google to Twitter, Facebook, Digital cameras, flat screen TV’s, Kindles and YouTube, they have all arrived in the last decade. It amazes me to see what happens.”

Le Centre int’l d’art contemporain de Montréal

North-South-East-West reviewed by Xavier Marbeil of the Magazine électronique du CIAC – The Centre international d’art contemporain de Montréal

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Graham Thompson’s North-South-East-West Net.art guide to the Annishinabe Medicine was reviewed by Xavier Marbeil in issue #25, Summer 2006 Theme : Paysages (Landscapes) of the Magazine électronique du CIAC – The Centre international d’art contemporain de Montréal

North-South-East-West Net.art

It is not surprising that the creative process at the origin of many contemporary artworks takes place, in whole or in part, on the Net : interaction, collaboration, collage, remix… The Net constitutes for these modes of creation a natural habitat, in which the limits of space, time and matter are abolished. The works of netart, designed for, on and with the web, have gone one step further in taking the network itself as an object of their art. These works refer to the initial ideals of the Net, cooperation, free-trade, emphasis on the collective rather than the individual, but also underline the fact that navigation creates a visual trace which becomes an information, itself immediately transformed into a spectacle. Check out North-South-East-West Online.

North-South-East-West by Xavier Mabreil (Screen Captures)

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North-South-East-West by Xavier Mabreil (Google Translation)

North-South-East-West, of Graham Thomson (Canada), 2003 COSMOGONY ALGONKINE CACHÉE/MONTRÉE? About the well-known work of Graham Thompson, North-South-East-West, we will recall his operating mode first of all, like its organization. With the opening of the URL an interface of reception informs us of the format of the work, carried out under Flash.

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If the hyperlector chooses not to have any action, it will discover a sequence of four distinct sequences:

  1. a very fast succession of images lets to us guess a plan of country, or city. It is necessary to make use of several captures of screens, then to increase them, to realize that the plan in question is that of the Contracting State of Minnesota (or of the state), the USA. Area bordering, should it be pointed out, of the Canadian provinces of Manitoba and Ontario, ancestral grounds of Algonkins;

  2. an anthropomorphic figure, that one will be able to associate a totemic representation, becomes animated on a bottom of horizontal screens. A cube drawn in three D also rolls on the space representation which this screen constitutes;

  3. in tone bluish, dark, a heavenly object occupies the bottom of a scene which seems left an space-opera. A hinged jib (Canadian technology?) approaches a unit which could be a space base;

  4. finally, of the parabolas, fixed on pylons, roofs, seem to receive waves coming from the sky. Once the hyperlector will have shelled dissolve-connected these four sequences, it will have to click on one or the other of the bonds hypertexts to discover a new interface – which will give him access to the contents of work itself.

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In a very simple way, and as many works born on the Web could show it to us, the interface of work is appeared as a space metaphor. In top north, bellow the south, on the left the west and is on the right.

Under each of the four cardinal points, a list from five to eight names proposes to us, thanks to the hypertext link, to discover an animated sequence. Before returning on their contents, we stop a few moments on another element of the interface, which will be always present at the screen, méta-bars it navigation. The choices suggested by this méta-bar are as follows, rather similar to those which one can find on considerable sites: exit, home, contact, information.

The subparagraph “information” will teach us that work is inspired by the symbolic system of the cardinal points traditional of the people algonkin. One will not be thus surprised to have discovered only the plan which ravelled at any speed in introduction was that of a state in the past (and also in a contemporary way) populated algonkins.

All work then, can be included/understood starting from this aspect of the introduction. The history of the American settlement being supposed known of all, one could only be sensitive to the fact that the people algonkin, like all the indigenous people of two Americas, have a report/ratio with the eminently problematic territory, conflict, even painful.

This territory, that the Amerindian people had by force to divide with Europeans, it is represented here in extreme cases of the visible one. So much so that one is forced to fix the image by capture of screen, to discover that it was about a plan of Minnesota.

The territory, literally, is hidden, virtual. It is in addition the territory of the other, since the place names are for the majority resulting from the Anglo-Saxon space representation: Cambridge, Turkey Not, Normandale, etc… It is a case emblematic of the use of information technologies and communication – where the appearance and disappearance as well as the tape speed of the images make direction.

This territory hidden, evoked perhaps by this totemic dance of the introduction, then moved in the space, and finally reinvested on ground through the waves received by parabolas, the body of work then proposes to us to discover it.

It while clicking on different the items is contained under the headings North South – East – West that we will be able to open the sequences having for name: winter, snow, elder, courage, ice, endurance (North), summer, spirit, quest, secrets, bloom, vision, adolescence, youth (South), birth, dawn, spring, flower, sun (East), autumn, adult, thunder, sunset, renewal, (West).

With the choice, one will stop on the sequence “Vision”, in the North heading, to hear the message whereby “Vision C not reveal”; or one will hear, in “Dawn” this thought animist “All that belongs to the earth belongs to me”. But there is not the essence of our reading: the quality of animations, of the spoken or sung sequences, all that is left with the appreciation of each visitor, according to his sensitivity. It will be noticed only that none the many rewards received by this work is usurped.

What must hold our attention, it is connect it simplicity of the device, behind which semiotics questions differently more complex hide.

The list of the items reproduced above informs us indeed that certain sequences are called in reference to the season (winter…) and in connection with such or such cardinal point; other sequences indicate natural phenomena (snow, ice, flower, sun, thunder); others milked in the human condition (elder, adolescence, youth, birth, adult); others still refer to human or animal qualities (courage, endurance…); and others finally with phenomena of calendarity (dawn, sunset, renewal).

What it is necessary to point of the finger, it is the extreme diversity of the items and the extremely different registers which they indicate: natural seasons (long calendarity), phenomena, age group, human and/or animal quality, short calendarity.

Consequently, the action to click on one or the other of these items, and the surprise to each time discover a different sequence by its setting in image, the absence or the presence of a said text, etc… puts the hyperlector in a situation of imbalance with the project openly announced by the work – which is, let us recall it, inspired of the symbolic system of the cardinal points of the nation algonkine. How indeed to build a knowledge of this cosmogony if no methodology is proposed by the author – and whereas we are in a new mode of expression?

Moreover, one will notice the readily enigmatic character of certain sequences – which seem to function according to a logic well more oneiric rational.

In short, none known in the past cognitive maps seems respected here: we find the linearity of the written text and its paratextuelle organization, neither the syntax of the cinematographic writing (fictional or documentary), nor the methodology of the museographic modes of exposure, etc…

It however remains that the work of Graham Thomson transmits a message well to us, and more still that a message the feeling to have shared a significant experiment.

The logic which seems to prevail is well more that of the dream – a dream directly connected to psyché of Amerindian people – a logic which one will be able to say transverse, for want of anything better for the moment.

It is perhaps the greatest quality of this work, which all at the same time enchants us in the most naive way, and reserves questions differently more difficult to us, having milked with semiotics, and the development of a specific critical language.

Xavier Malbreil

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The Centre international d’art contemporain de Montréal Backgrounder

1983 The CIAC is founded. 1984 Claude Gosselin, founder of the CIAC, curates the visual arts, photography, video and cinema section for Québec ‘84, an event marking the 400th anniversary of the founding of Québec City. 1985 The exhibition Aurora Borealis opens the first edition of Les Cent jours d’art contemporain de Montréal, curated by René Blouin, Claude Gosselin and Normand Thériault. 1986 Traces, an exhibition of drawings by Canadian artists, is curated for the Department of External Affairs of Canada to be toured internationally. 1996 The final edition of Les Cent jours d’art contemporain de Montréal is held. 1997 The first bilingual on-line electronic arts magazine in Canada, the Magazine électronique, is launched. It is devoted to promoting electronic art and to the discussion of new technologies in visual art. 1998 The first edition of La Biennale de Montréal (BNL MTL), an international biennal. Subsequent editions have been held in 2000, 2002, 2004, 2007,2009. 2009 The CIAC celebrates 25 years of active involvement on the cultural scene. The CIAC has thrice won the Grand Prix of the Conseil des arts de Montréal. The prize in the visual arts category was awarded to it in 1985, 1992 and 2000.

Noirlac Abbey France, Medicine Wheel

North-South-East-West exhibited at 2006 Les Futurs de l’écrit Art Biennial at Abbey of Noirlac in Orléans France.

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The North-South-East-West DVD was exhibited at the 2006 Les Futurs de l’écrit Art Biennial at the Abbey of Noirlac in Orléans France.  The Future of Writing ( Les Futurs de l’écrit) is a biennial event that exhibits literature, theater, music, sound, image, visual arts and dance within a beautifully restored Cistercian abbey.

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Abbey of Noirlac in Orléans France

The construction of the Abbey of Noirlac was started in 1150 by a small group of monks who came from Clairvaux. The abbey expressed the monastic asceticism of the Cistercian order founded by Saint Robert and Saint Bernard.

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From the XVth century to the French Revolution, the few monks in residence dedicated their time to the management of the community estate as well as to the spiritual life. Visit the Abbey de Norlac with 360 degree views.

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North-South-East-West Overview

The North-South-East-West was inspired by the  ancient Medicine Wheel belief system of the Annishinabe Peoples of North America. The presentation has an introduction that illustrates Ontario’s past, its present day mass media culture, and its technological future.

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The main section of NSEW begins in the east where the earth gives birth to a new day, to a new life and to the feeling of deep peace and belongingness. As well the east represents the first challenge in life – the test of survival. The animation celebrates the tiny frail flowers that live another day and open to greet the sun.

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Birth, Sunrise, Spring and the Challenge of Survival

The eastern section is followed by illustrations of the earth’s southern personality. The south brings the heat of the summer, the bloom of adolescence and the quest for a vision. The south represents the time we are given to discover our meaning and the ability to hold the power of this vision as our secret.

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The southern section is followed by meditations on the west. The west represents adulthood, autumn and the path of the vision discovered in our youth. In autumn the cool winds of the west signal the end of summer and a time of preparation – an adult time. In this direction or season of life, we learn that the path of our vision is not easy. The difficulties come like thunder clouds, yet they bring rains that “wash away yesterday” and allow us to renew ourselves and continue our work as in adulthood we realize that the sun will set before our path is complete.

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The piece completes the cycle of directions, seasons and stages of life in the north. The north represents winter, old age and the wisdom of the path of the vision. It is at this stage that our view of life is simple and uncomplicated, like a landscape where blankets of snow hide the complexities of the terrain. This is the time to have courage to live and embrace the changes of the final stage of life.

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The North South East West new media series can be summarized by mapping the geographic and climatic themes onto a matrix as shown below

Childhood

Youth

Adulthood

Old Age

Survival

Vision

Path

Wisdom

East

South

West

North

Spring

Summer

Autumn

Winter

Sunrise

Noon

Sunset

Evening

Hope, Optimism and Belonging

Bloom and Identity

Westerly Winds Bring Clouds

Life Review Like a Snow Covered Forest