Oxford University England Afghan Voices Video

Voices from Afghanistan video posted on Forced Migration BLOG of University of Oxford, January 2008.

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The Voices from Afghanistan video, part of the Voices of Refugees Installation, was posted in the Forced Migration BLOG of Online Refugee Studies Centre of the University of Oxford England’s Department of International Development (QEH) in January 2008.

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University of Oxford Backgrounder

The University of Oxford (informally Oxford University or simply Oxford) is a collegiate research university located in Oxford, England, United Kingdom. While having no known date of foundation, there is evidence of teaching as far back as 1096, making it the oldest university in the English-speaking world and the world’s second-oldest university in continuous operation.

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It grew rapidly from 1167 when Henry II banned English students from attending the University of Paris. After disputes between students and Oxford townsfolk in 1209, some academics fled northeast to Cambridge where they established what became the University of Cambridge. The two “ancient universities” are frequently jointly referred to as “Oxbridge”.

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Voices from Afghanistan Video

Notable Graduates from Oxford University
Theresa May
(1956- ) St Hugh’s Jul 2016 Conservative
David Cameron
(1966- ) Brasenose May 2010-Jul 2016 Conservative
Tony Blair
(1953-  )St John’s May 1997-Jun 2007 Labour
Margaret Thatcher
(1925-2013) Somerville May 1979-Nov 1990 Conservative
Harold Wilson
(1916-1995) Jesus Oct 1964-Jun 1970 Labour Mar 1974-Apr 1976
Edward Heath
(1916-2005) Balliol Jun 1970-Mar 1974 Conservative
Sir Alec Douglas-Home
(1903-1995) Christ Church Oct 1963-Oct 1964 Unionist/Conservative
Harold Macmillan
(1894-1986) Balliol Jan 1957-Oct 1963 Conservative

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The Refugee Studies Centre Overview

The Refugee Studies Centre (RSC) was founded in 1982 as part of the Oxford Department of International Development (Queen Elizabeth House) at the University of Oxford. Their mission is to build knowledge and understanding of the causes and effects of forced migration in order to help improve the lives of some of the world’s most vulnerable people. They aim to lead the world in research and education in the area of refugee and forced migration studies and to share our work on a national and global scale. They seek to realise this vision by taking forward new and transformative approaches to research, teaching and engagement with society, informed by Oxford’s long traditions of independent scholarship and academic freedom. A world-class centre for the study of forced migration and refugees has been created at the University of Oxford. With its pioneering research and innovative education and training programmes, the Refugee Studies Centre has had a major constructive influence throughout the developed and developing world and has stimulated effective international networks. In the early 1980s Dr Barbara Harrell-Bond undertook research regarding one such challenge: how to improve the performance of humanitarian agencies in the field. During fieldwork in Algeria she realised the paucity of academic literature available on the subject, and on her return to Oxford she founded the Refugee Studies Centre (then known as the Refugee Studies Programme).

Parliament of Canada, Refugee Voices

Federal Minister Jason Kenney launches the Voices of Refugees Installation at the Parliament of Canada in 2009.

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The Voices of Refugees Installation was exhibited at the Parliament of Canada in Ottawa Ontario June 16, 2009. The multimedia event featured 8 portraits of refugees from Central America, Central Asia and Africa, with segments of their life stories displayed on four large screen video monitors and was introduced by Federal Minister Jason Kenney.

The Voices of Refugees Project at the Canadian Parliament

The event involved 4 large video displays, 10 short films, 8 portraits and the music of Tito Medina, revolutionary singer from Guatemala in celebration of World Refugee Week. The project was reviewed by Radio Canada International’s Link Program, Tony Martins of Guerrilla Magazine of Ottawa and Alan Neal on CBC’s Ottawa Morning.

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The event included the following speakers: The Honourable Jason Kenney, Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism and Abraham ABRAHAM the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Representative in Canada. The projects partners included United Nations, Citizenship and Immigration Canada, Coalition of New Canadians for Art and Culture. The project’s funders included the Ontario Arts Council, Canada Council, City of Ottawa and Citizenship and Immigration Canada.

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Tito Medina Backgrounder

Mayan musician and activist Tito Medina was just a kid when his songs got him into trouble in his home country Guatemala. After fleeing Guatemala he lived in several countries – Nicaragua and Mexico – before settling in Canada.

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Tito Medina in front of his Portrait

Tito recounts, “I started to sing songs about what was happening in my country when I was twelve years old. I have two brothers that are still missing, disappeared. My mom was heavily tortured both by national forces and foreign international advisers and mining companies, that have small armies locally. They force the people out of their communities, you know, they just to strike gold or nickel or something. We need to learn to forgive but we don’t have to forget.”

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Victor Fuentes Video Transcript

SINGING: What’s the use of having so much, What the use of having so much power, If when the day of my death comes, Nothing, absolutely nothing, I am going to take with me. What the use of having so many possessions? What is the use of all these wealth? When there are so many that have nothing? No even a bread on the table? SPEAKING: I was almost killed in my country, I was tortured, I was arrested on 2 occasions, I was a student at the National Salvadorian University. 1 week the first time, with no food, no sleeping, no water, being beaten up by 7 soldiers, although, I couldn’t see anybody. The first time I was put into a torture chamber, they put me on a chair and I was blindfolded. I was hand cuffed in the back. There was a minute of silence, complete silence, before they started to beat me up.

Citizenship and Immigration Canada Press Release

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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.”

Canadian Centre for International Justice

Voices of Refugees Posters exhibited at 2008 formal launch of Canadian Centre of International Justice, Speakers included Maher Arar, Lloyd Axworthy, and Ellen Gabriel.

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Posters from the Voices of Refugees Installation were exhibited at the June 2008 formal launch of the Canadian Centre of International Justice in Ottawa Canada. Speakers included Maher Arar, Lloyd Axworthy, and Ellen Gabriel.

Maher Arar, Lloyd Axworthy, and Ellen Gabriel

Maher Arar is a Canadian citizen who was forcibly sent to Syria in 2002 as part of the United States’ “extraordinary rendition” program. He was imprisoned in Syria for 10 months and tortured. In 2004, after his release, Maher filed a lawsuit in the United States against several individual U.S. officials for their role in his detention and torture. In November 2009, a U.S. Court of Appeals upheld a lower court’s dismissal of the suit. CCIJ, along with other Canadian human rights organizations and scholars, filed an amicus curiae (friend of the court) brief in support of Maher’s petition to the U.S. Supreme Court.

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On June 14, 2010, the high court refused to hear the case, effectively eliminating Maher’s final hope for justice in the U.S. judicial system. Maher’s attempt to hold the governments of Syria and Jordan accountable in Canadian courts was also denied when those countries were given immunity under Canada’s State Immunity Act.

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Dr. Lloyd Axworthy, former Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs, had a distinguished political career spanning 30 years. The founding Director of the Liu Institute for Global Issues at the University of British Columbia, Dr. Axworthy is now President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Winnipeg. He has been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize and is an Officer of the Order of Canada.

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Ellen Gabriel (born 1959), also known as Katsi’tsakwas, is an Mohawk activist and artist from Kanehsatà:ke Nation – Turtle Clan, known for her involvement as the official spokesperson, chosen by the People of the Longhouse, during the Oka Crisis. In March 1990, she joined in the movement against the expansion of a golf course in Oka, Quebec. That event eventually escalated into the Oka Crisis. In order to raise awareness of the crisis, she traveled internationally, including visits to The Hague, Strasbourg and Japan. During this time, in May 1990, she received a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Concordia University. In 1993, the documentary Kanehsatake: 270 Years of Resistance was released; she was a prominent part of the film. The next decade after the crisis had been settled, she worked as an Art Teacher for the Mohawk Immersion School. In 2004, she was elected president of the Quebec Native Woman’s Association. She held the position until December 2010. During this time she brought changes to the Indian Act in the form of Bill C-31. On 19 May 2009, she gave a speech to the eighth session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. Between 11–15 July 2011, she gave a speech to the fourth session of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. In the Summer of 2012, she ran for National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations. She passed to the second round of votes and was eliminated in the second round due to misinformation on the floor which rumored she had withdrawn and given her votes to Shawn Atleo. On 7 May 2013, in regards to Bill S-2, she gave a speech to the 41st Parliament, 1st Session at the Standing Committee on the Status of Women.

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Canadian Centre for International Justice’s mission is to:

  1. Seek recognition, support, and compensation as redress for survivors of genocide, torture, and other atrocities with strong connections to Canada, as well as for loved ones of people who have either died as a result of human rights violations or who are unable to contact us themselves;
  2. Ensure that those in Canada accused of serious human rights violations are held accountable and brought to justice;
  3. Contribute to the success of the international justice system as a whole.

To carry out this mission, CCIJ works in cooperation with affected communities and individuals in Canada and abroad and in collaboration with a variety of domestic and international organizations and experts.

Canadian Centre for International Justice five primary objectives

  1. Provide information, assistance, and direction to survivors of human rights abuses and the loved ones of victims; carry out and/or facilitate research and investigations of their cases; compile cases to be brought to the attention of the Canadian government or other authorities;
  2. Support government initiatives leading to the prosecution in Canada of torturers, war criminals, and perpetrators of severe human rights abuses, and support other appropriate remedies;
  3. Educate & train legal professionals, civil society groups, and the general public in Canada about impunity as a critical human rights issue;
  4. Serve as a resource for anti-impunity initiatives across Canada, including access to Canadian and international jurisprudence and information regarding Canadian law, policy, and practice;
  5. Support ongoing efforts to reform law in order to strengthen the legal remedies available in Canada for survivors and victims of serious human rights abuses.

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.

Local Project Gallery New York, Fluid

Annick & Tony: A Talking Portrait Story exhibited at 2007 FLUID media event at Local Project, Queens New York.

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Annick & Tony: A Talking Portrait Story produced and directed by Sherry Tompalski & Graham Thompson, was presented on the opening night of the FLUID film festival, July 15th 2007 at 5PM in the Main Screening room @ Local Project, Long Island City 21-36 44rd, LIC, Queens 11101 .

The Local Project Gallery’s FLUID EVENT featured Video Art, Motion Graphics, Live Performances, Interactive Installations, Music Videos, and Narratives.

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Annick & Tony: A Talking Portrait Story

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Annick & Tony’s Portraits side-by-side

Tony Martins is founding editor and creative director of Guerilla magazine (www.getguerilla.ca), a quarterly publication that examines “culture at ground level” online since 2004. A native of Toronto, Tony holds an MA in English from the University of Waterloo. Guerilla looks through a wide-angle lens to create material that is substantial, intelligent, diverse, approachable, curious, experimental, and presented from multiple viewpoints.

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Tony in Tompalski’s Ottawa studio during the filming of “Annick & Tony”

Guerilla publishes feature stories, essays, images, and a variety of contributions from artists, arts writers, and cultural observers. All artistic and creative forms are fair game, including those now emerging. Guerilla will approach subject matter “at ground level” (i.e., with no agenda other than to examine what’s out there), placing equal significance on high art and raw expression, on the celebrated and the unknown, on the historic and the avant-garde. Guerilla exists to get people talking within and across cultural circles in a new kind of public dialogue. Guerilla publishes paid advertising but will never be advertising-driven. Published quarterly, Guerilla is independently owned and managed.

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Tony in Tompalski’s Ottawa studio during the filming of “Annick & Tony”

Transcript of Tony’s Talking Portrait

[TONY] … So how did you reach the conclusion that purple would be my color? Just a feeling, a total intuition?

[SHERRY] Yes, I just thought of you.

[TONY] I’m a gemini, 2 individuals or something. There was always a tension going on between the 2, and I also like to think that I have a fair bit of feminine within me. There is no self until you are in a relationship, then its only through the relationship that you can…

[SHERRY] Yes.

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Sherry Tompalski in her Studio 2007

[TONY] My father’s father was from Portugal and he emigrated to Guyana, northern most tip of South America, but culturally, it is part of the Caribbean. So my dad is very much a West Indian man, my dad is a musician and a cultural developer, he lives in the Cayman Islands now. But I’m a strange mix, my mother is Scottish…Yes there also is a little black blood in there too, because my father’s mother, her ancestors, there was some racial mixing going on there for sure. Soccer and volleyball are my two big sports. They had an entrance scholarship competition, so I ah, sent work in and they invited me to come to campus. So much into sports and into artwork and culture.

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Image of the Talking Portrait Catalogue

[SHERRY] Yes.

[TONY] The story of yourself, is retold over and over again though the course of our lives. And you enter into a new relationship, you’ve got a new story, hopefully, and if you don’t, your probably not being very honest with yourself.

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Tony and Sherry during the filming of “Annick & Tony: A Talking Portrait”

The Talking Portrait Series

Portraiture through unseen collaboration with others “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. evidence of human intuition.

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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.

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Annick & Tony: A Talking Portrait

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.  “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. 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.”

Steam Whistle Gallery Toronto, Talking Portraits

Talking Portraits Installation exhibited at Steam Whistle Gallery, Toronto Canada in 2006.

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Sherry Tompalski’s and Graham Thompson’s Talking Portraits Installation was exhibited at The Steam Whistle Gallery, Toronto Canada in 2006.

Sherry Tompalski’s Talking Portait Installation Debuted in Toronto at the Steam Whistle Gallery. Curated by Simon Hermant, the show opened October 26th at 6pm and continued until November 22nd at The Roundhouse 255 Bremner Blvd. in Toronto, close to the CN Tower.

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The Talking Portrait Installation covered an entire wall of the Steam Whistle gallery with 144 square feet of boldly painted close-up portraits. This matrix of 16 paintings immerses the viewer in a field of faces that act as a metaphor for our distilled experiences with other people.

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The installation also includes audio samples and time-lapse photography from the actual portrait sitting which illustrates the concept of co-construction – the reciprocal, mutual influence between an artist and a model that is interactive, bi-directional, and largely unconscious. Thus the finished portraits are a visual coalescence of this process.

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Tompalski’s style is best described as psychological realism, an attempt to capture the psychological experience of another person in paint on canvas. In the Talking Portrait installation Tompalski often utilizes “ironic colour” which was used by Michealangelo in his paintings in the Sistine Chapel. Ironic color is color that is in opposition to the manifest expression of the model, and this adds a complexity to the meaning of the portrait. This ambiguity seems appropriate as people often have complex experiences and mixed feelings. Ironic color captures this beautifully.

La Petite Mort Gallery Ottawa, Talking Portraits

Tompalski’s Talking Portraits were exhibited at La Petite Mort Gallery May 26th, 2006.

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Sherry Tompalski’s Talking Portaits Installation was at La Petite Mort Gallery, curated by Guy Berube,  May 26th 7 – 10 PM at 306 Cumberland St. Ottawa Canada.  The  Exhibition provided 3 ways to experience the portrait – through large oil paintings, 8 audio sound tracks, and 8 videos of time-lapse photography that record the creation of the portraits.

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PORTRAITS: The east wall will be covered with 135 square feet of boldly painted faces painted in her style of Psycholoogical Realism, where Tompalski captures the psychological experience of Ottawa’s leading psychotherapists and artists in paint on canvas. Her work is emphasizes intuition, interpretation, and co-construction (the unconscious dialogue of the portrait sitting.)

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Portraiture & New Media

SOUND TRACKS: The sound tracks, were developed by splicing together unscripted comments with original computer music and sounds of birds, trains, roller coasters, steel bands and bagpipes. This dialogue allows for a momentary glimpse into the process of co-construction through the model’s verbal dialogue and the painter’s visual expression.

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TIME-LAPSE VIDEOS: The time-lapse photography displays the development of the portrait. The hypnotic effect helps the audience take the time to look and become engaged with the painted portrait. To understand ourselves we look at others for clues as to what we are experiencing. The human face conveys a rich complexity of personal history, which we feel in an inexplicable way as an impression or an intuition. Paintings and Installation by Sherry Tompalski and Supporting Audio and Video tracks by Graham Thompson.

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Artist’s Statement

The Talking Portrait Installation, with its matrix of boldly painted faces, its use of time-lapse photography and edited voice tracks, invites the audience into the intimate moment of the portrait sitting. Rather than hang the portraits of the Talking Portrait Installation individually, Tompalski typically presents groups 9 to 15 large faces per gallery wall, covering as much as 135 square feet at a time. Consequently, art audiences are confronted by an expressive collection of personalities that for Tompalski represents “our life experience with others – those people who live inside of us, who shape the way we are from moment to moment.”

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As well, The Talking Portrait Installation offers audience the opportunity to listen on portable audio players, individual sounds tracks for each portrait (produced by Thompson), where the models unsolicited comments are accompanied by supporting sound effects and programmed music that set the mood of each encounter. In effect, the sound tracks help the audience understand what each model is feeling, as part of an ongoing effort to capture the psychological experience of each model. The painted portraits are also supported by the time-lapse record of their creation (produced by Thompson), giving audiences, a quick overview of the development of each face through multiple layers of paint. The hypnotic effect of the compressed video helps the audience take a moment to look, to become engaged with the matrix of portraits. Consequently, the overall effect of the installation is a deepening of the moment, the moment mediated by the right hemisphere of the brain.

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Right Brain Communication

The Talking Portrait installation is primarily concerned about right brain communication, as it takes place between the artist and the model, as the right brain is responsible for processing nonverbal facial expression, body language, and voice in terms of rhythm, tone and force. Research (Wexler et al 1992) demonstrates that the right hemisphere is specialized for both the receptive processing and expressive communication of facial information (primarily from the eyes and from around the mouth) between people in spontaneous social interaction.

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This occurs very quickly in 3 milliseconds and is unconscious. For Tompalski, a practicing psychiatrist, the Talking Portrait series serves as visual confirmation that “90% of what goes on between people is unconscious”-an idea she credits to Daniel Stern, a professor of psychology at the University of Geneva and a noted expert in the mother-infant relationship.

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Tompalski describes her portrait making process as follows, “To understand ourselves we look at others for clues as to what we are experiencing. The human face conveys a rich complexity of personal history, which I feel in an inexplicable way as an impression or an intuition. Consequently, I value painting from a live model. Most importantly, this allows for a mutual influence that is interactive and largely unconscious.”

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.”

Chicago Access Network Television CANTV

Chicago Access Network Television features Talking Portraits Installation at River West Gallery 2006.

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The Talking Portraits Installation was covered by Chicago Access Network Television CANTV during its exhibition at the ARC Gallery of Chicago in November 2006.

The installation includes audio, video and painted portraits. The portraits are painted from a live model sitting for approximately six hours. The audio portion is edited from the comments, questions and reflections made by the model during the sitting. The time-lapse photography records the development of the portrait.

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The ARC Gallery/Educational Foundation is a not-for-profit, artist run gallery located in Chicago’s River West Neighborhood. ARC is an internationally recognized alternative space and has been an integral part of the Chicago art community since 1973.

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CAN TV is an independent nonprofit established by the City of Chicago in 1983 as the public’s space on cable television free of commercials, filters, and censors. On our five local channels you can see the diversity of people and ideas that reflect Chicago, including voices often excluded from the mainstream media. The city where neighbors can freely share their passions and talents with one another is the city that works better.  For everyone.