Art

Image Atlas, the art of filter bubble

Search results for Canada in the Image Atlas

Search results for Canada in the Image Atlas.

Image Atlas is an art project created by New York artist Teryn Simon and the late Aaron Schwartz. Here is a paragraph from the About page:

Image Atlas investigates cultural differences and similarities by indexing top image results for given search terms across local engines throughout the world. Visitors can refine or expand their comparisons from the 57 countries currently available, and sort by Gross Domestic Product (GDP) or alphabetical order.

I searched for Canada, and it’s quite interesting to see how it is perceived around the world. Of course, the Toronto skyline and the Rocky Mountains are everywhere, and God knows that Canada is way more than that. It’s fascinating to find a mosque in Egypt or an Indian couple, a 20 dollar bill and a cricket picture in India as a top result.

Please let me know if you try a term and what results did you got.

Macaroni necklace for Mom

I never posted a press release on this website, but I think there is a first for everything.

François Lalumière:On the Phone with Mum. Montreal artist François Lalumière, known for his colorful installations is one the artist invited to participate.

Macaroni necklace for Mom

In celebration of Mother’s Day, several students have asked 18 Montreal artists “ to make a necklace out of macaroni ”. From the 5th to the 12th of May 2012, at the studio XX in Montréal, Macaroni Necklace for Mom will show the works of several different exhibitors in a multi-disciplinary visual arts exhibition.

What is it about ?

The idea of making a necklace out of macaroni for one’s mother originates in the poetry of simple daily objects. A necklace of noodles has always been the king of preschool creations. Unfortunately, these projects are regarded with derision : they are seen to have little to no commercial value. Nonetheless, such an object conserves its sentimental value, crystallized in the pure intention of a child who carefully makes it, for his or her mother. Macaroni Necklace for Mom also proposes to banish barriers which circumscribe any creative discipline to celebrate “an object with a modest soul, without borders of any kind or origin”; a stance which, echoes the proposition of the artist Hervé Perdriolle – a key promoter of Free Form.

The Genesis

Cybèle B. Pilon – a communications undergraduate at the University of Montréal – invited 18 Montreal artists from different disciplines to make a necklace out of macaroni to celebrate Mother’s Day. To mark the same occasion as a youngster, she often spent time in similar handicraft activities in elementary school.

Years pass but the games we play remain the same. Cybèle is passionate about things that, on the surface, are ordinary, simple; she has organized a team consisting of Guillaume, Marie- Audrey and Cassie to turn this crazy project into a reality. The desire to learn and participate in a worthwhile project prompted these four students from communications, design and scenography, to organize the project.

A Macaroni Necklace for Mother aims to stimulate the Montreal cultural scene as well as to honor women as part of a celebration of Mother’s Day. One hopes to find as well, in this project, a continuing hope to erase the lines which define disciplines, media and other barriers between the contemporary arts.

Studio XX

4001, rue Berri – Suite 201 (between Duluth and Roy, Sherbrooke metro)
Montreal, Quebec, H2L 4H2
514 845-7934

If you happen to be in the neighborhood, check this exhibition out.

It’ll be open till this Saturday, May 12th.

Balance

Balance is about Canada, about Quebec, about multiculturalism, about the difficulty to keep the right balance in order to advance and avoid falling in chauvinism, racism or xenophobia.

From my personal experience, as a new comer to Canada, I was surprised by the openness of people here, how easily they accept that I come from somewhere else.  How easy it is to feel home in Canada, in Quebec, in Montreal.

The only thing I’m still struggling with and the only thing that shatters my illusion of a harmonious society is the relationship between certain Francophones and Anglophones.

It’s an extremely touchy subject, that makes interaction with locals difficult. I got Francophone friends, I got Anglophone friends and they are all open minded people with a lot of respect for other cultures (I’m avoiding bigots), but there are times, especially when elections are near, when poison is in the air. Poison spread by political parties without a serious platform and cheap journalism that tries to sell a few extra papers by steering up the spirits.

I’m looking forward to the time, when the Red will recognize the importance of Blue in creating a unique richness and when Blue will stop focusing on a pessimistic interpretation of its past and start focusing on its future.

Colours of India, stereotypes on steroids

Colours of India: View of the exhibition room. Photo by Alain Vandal ©Pointe-à-Callière

Yesterday I went to visit the Colours of India at Pointe-à-Callière. Since I had a meeting at 6:30 in the Old Port, I thought I will just go and make a small incursion into India. I arrived at 3:30 hopping that the museum will be open till 6, but sorry I was to discover that only during the Summer they are open till 6 and normally they close at 5. Would they be open during the week at least one evening till at least 7, if not till 9PM, then people who work downtown could go see an exhibition from time to time, after work. I hope the new management will fix this among other problems.

Other problems?

Although I thought, and I was even warned at the entrance, that one hour and a half won’t be enough to see the exhibition, my next disappointment came when I got inside. A small room with a few artifacts of recent date: most of them from 20th century, with a few 19th century items and exceptionally here and there some 18th century exhibits; considering the long history of India, nothing to be impressed of.

I could immediately sense that the exhibition was constructed around the photos of Suzanne Held and the rest of the artifacts were added just to have an excuse for showing these images in a museum. Beautiful photos, I have to admit, but that’s it.

There is very little information offered for the visitors, and even that is confusing. You have to be an expert in India’s geography to know where an image was taken, or where those shoes come from.

Instead of educating the visitors, the exhibition is reinforcing stereotypes that Westerners have about this country. India, the holly land, where everyone and their grandfather is a sadhu, where Hinduism is the main religion, let’s not mention Islam and we should be OK with ignoring Sikhism.

The exhibition fails to explore the history and the cultural diversity  of India. The guide told me that the focus of the exhibition was more artistic, but as an art exhibition, it’s more than shallow. I would have been much more interested to see photos taken by Indian photographers, and not by a European lady on vacation.

Would this exhibition been organized by the Indian Ministry of Tourism, I would have had nothing to complain about, but from a museum of archeology and history, I’m expecting more.

Pina

Spring, summer, autumn, winter! Loving, rising and falling, living a human life is the main subject of Pina, the latest movie of Wim Wenders, dedicated to the memory of the German dancer and choreographer, Pina Bausch.

I think Wim Wenders, succeeded in transmitting the emotional charge of Pina Bausch’s choreographies. The gestures, the facial expressions, the music and the surroundings create a whole that will capture your soul and mind. From one scene to the other, you will go from infinite sadness to unbearable joy of life, from despair to quite acceptance.

As the closing credits ended, we looked at each other and wondered how this could be possible? Should we go get tickets for the next screening and come back? Will we be able to handle this much emotion? No, we wont… We’ll have to come back another day.

Exhibitions I would like to visit this year in Montreal 1

One of my resolutions for this year is to profit to the max from the existence of so many excellent museums, here in Montreal. I would like to go at least once or twice every month, see an exhibition and leave my comments here on the blog. I know, I will always have besides me an excellent guide, my wife who has an MA in museology and if any of you would like to join us, just let me know.

I will probably start with Pointe-à-Callière (PAC), that is having on display the Colors of India until April 22. Those that know me, won’t be surprised, you already know that I love the Indian culture, I’m a big fan of  their music, philosophy and cuisine.

Apart the objects received from the Musée national des arts asiatiques Guimet in Paris, there are also photos by the internationally renowned reporter and photographer, Suzanne Held.

At the Ramlila festival, in Ramnagar, this young boy, arrayed liked a god, his eyes highlighted with antimony, wears the mark of Vishnu’s trident painted on his forehead. In a few moments he will pay Lakshmana, Rama’s faithful brother, in a performance of the “deed of Rama.” ©Suzanne Held

I know in May we will go back to the PAC, when Samurai – The Prestigious Collection of Richard Béliveau will open its doors.

Richard Béliveau, who is university professor, famous for his work in the prevention and treatment of cancer, happens to be a great collector of Japanese artifacts. It is the first time that he agreed to present to the public part of his collection.

Here are some teasing details from the press release:

Samurai — The Prestigious Collection of Richard Béliveau will showcase some 200 pieces, such as full armours including helmets, masks, and clothing, as well as spears and swords, not to mention functional objects relating to the warriors’ daily lives and culture: tea bowls, calligraphy scrolls, and face masks—very rare items that are not often seen on display. Mr. Béliveau’s collection is distinguished by the fact that it includes complete pieces, richly decorated and fashioned from high quality materials, made by the greatest masters of the era. The objects presented as part of the exhibition—all of which are true works of art—are mainly from the Azuchi-Momoyama period, which stretches from 1573 to 1603, and from the Edo or Tokugawa period, which began around 1600 and came to an end in 1868. Some of the objects are even older, dating from the 13th century.

I’d say, this is a must see!

Samurai armour, Richard Béliveau's collection. Pointe-à-Callière

In case you didn’t heard about it, the PAC has an original idea to attract visitors during the chilling cold weekends of January and February. During these two months, every Saturday and Sunday they will reduce the price of admission by a percentage equal to the outdoor subzero temperature recorded that morning. The weather forecast for tomorrow morning (Sunday) says -22, so if you’re brave enough, you’ll get a great deal.

Architecture in uniform at the CCA

Architecture in Uniform: Designing and Building for the Second World War, installation view at the CCA. Canadian Centre for Architecture, Montreal.

We were on our way to home from work with my wife, when we got caught in that blessing of peace and prosperity, called traffic jam. On the radio they were talking about the exhibition Architecture in Uniform: Designing and Building for the Second World War, organized at the Canadian Centre for Architecture (CCA) and a conference that was about to start, given by the curator of the exhibition, the professor of history of architecture Jean-Luis Cohen.

What an interesting and unexpected subject to research, because war I see as a period of extreme violence, a time when civilization stops from evolving to plunge into a self-destructing chaos, but Jean-Luis Cohen looked beyond the surface to uncover the fascinating world of civil engineering and architecture during WWII, an uncovered period in the history of Architecture.

The decision was taken on the spot; we took the first exit and headed to the CCA building. The exhibition was not yet open to the public, so we could not go trough it beforehand, this made us even more curios to learn about this topic.

When the lights went off, there we had Jean-Luis Cohen on the stage of Paul Desmarais Theatre, talking about war, architecture, architects, propaganda and politics. I don’t recall any conference that would equal this presentation, the slides were archive images without any text whatsoever (PowerPoint presentations are for images not for texts) and Mr. Cohen was talking freely with such eloquence that I felt humbled by the knowledge he was emanating.

The presentation was not structured chronologically, but rather on different topics, a structure that later when I returned to see the exhibition I recognized in the way the way the exhibits are organized in seven galleries.

This approach offers a bird eye view of different problems architects and engineers were faced during this period, such as the resistance of civilian buildings against bombs, the importance of bunkers, camouflage of cities and the way architects would come up with solutions in the different parts of the World, from France to Russia, from England to Germany.

At the time when there were no GPS guided bombs delivered by drones, or night vision, pilots were guided by the light of cities and the shape of rivers and mountains. Every nation had its own approach to concealing strategically important buildings and neighbourhoods. To mislead the enemy, some went as far as recreating Paris, the City of Lights, by using a network of light bulbs outside the city, others, the Russians for example created a fake Kremlin while hiding the real one. The Americans used Hollywood set designers to cover strategic factories with fake gardens and parks.

The exhibition is also presenting those architects that were putting their knowledge to the service of destruction, such as the ones that laid down the plan of Auschwitz, were killing people was part of the design, or the architects in the service of the US Army that helped in the research and development of bombs, to maximize their effect on the German civilian buildings.

The exhibition is beautifully designed and it doesn’t matter if you are interested in history or in architecture, in design or in propaganda, you will find plenty of things to learn and discover. It is open until the 18th of September and I find it to be one of the most interesting exhibitions in town at this time.

The bird inside everyone

For Hungarians birds are symbolizing freedom. Free as a bird, because a bird can fly anywhere, it can escape Winter, a hunter or hunger. All it has to do, is to open its wings and let the wind take her up, high in the sky.

People stopped from their work and looked up on the sky to see the birds fly South as Autumn was settling in. How many of them wished they could escape Winter? How many times they wished they could escape age? Yes, age, because birds never get old, or at least nobody ever saw an old bird.

When the snow is melting, the cold silence of the Winter is suddenly replaced by the noisy chirping of birds in love. A noisy and colorful love, a shameless love, a sincere love.

Then there is the chicken. The poor thing, for Hungarians is representing ignorance. How else could they could explain that there is a bird that prefers to rout for food in the dirt, and it keeps laying eggs every single day and never tried to learn how to use its wings?

We are all born with a bird inside, as we grow up, our bird is itching more and more try out its wings, it wants to fly, it wants to go see the World from the sky, it wants to go South when Winter comes. We are then told that we should tame our bird, we should teach it how to become a chicken, because the chicken is safe, the chicken will never go hungry. How sad, we listen to them, because in our naiveté we believe that their big fat chicken is the most amazing bird. Soon, we forget the sky, we forget the inviting warmth of the South and we start laying eggs every single day.

What kind of bird is inside you? Is it a chicken? If yes, would you please start using your wings!

You know, the sky is still there.

Green

The winter in Montreal is long and even as some people complain that winters are not the same as they used to be, six months of the white shit, as locals call snow affectionately, is not short.

By the time the hangover of the New Year’s Eve is over and the Christmas trees become dried out wrecks next to garbage bins, the snow loses its charm and the eye becomes more and more hungry for colors.

I did this painting, to hang it in the living room and look at it every time I’m sick of the snow.

I want to thank my friend Florian, for helping me take these pictures!

Green - painting by Adam Sofineti

Green - painting by Adam Sofineti

Green - painting by Adam Sofineti

The hidden benefits of luxury

BREGUET Marie-Antoinette Grande Complication pocket-watch ~ N°1160

BREGUET Marie-Antoinette Grande Complication pocket-watch ~ N°1160 (© WatchPaper.com)

I’m fascinated by fine watches, it doesn’t matter if they are powered be mechanical or automatic movement. My fascination stops at an outside contemplation of these timepieces, since I can’t afford most of them. Something I can live with, after all, how many of us can afford a Picasso, but we wouldn’t mind stopping in front of a painting hanged in a museum to admire it.

As a graphic/web designer/photographer, I was always attracted to mediums where creativity and technology would meet. Watchmaking is one of these mediums,  a craft that molds together knowledge of mechanics with aesthetics.

Just look at this Breguet pocket watch, with more than 800 components, priceless… Believe me, you can’t afford it.

There is this question that bugs since quite some time, why luxury is good for people in general? Are there benefits to the luxury industry, that are less talked about?

Social Media answering

I decided to go and ask around using Social Media. I asked on Twitter, Quora, LinkedIn and on LuxurySociety.com, what are the benefits of luxury for people in general? I was curios to investigate how luxury has benefited everyone. I was not interested in personal benefits, like driving a super car would give a person more prestige, and I was not interested neither in the record earnings of LVMH, or Richemont.

Twitter is not good for asking questions that need a complex answer, while on Quora, to my surprise, there was nobody who would give an answer.

On LinedIn, Daren Jones wrote:

Mainstream Luxury by definition cannot benefit everyone, it is exclusive not democratic.

It also works only in relation to the ordinary

Its primary asset of luxury (ignoring any utility or extra-function which luxury rarely offers over conventional solutions) beyond the temporary experiential nature of any sensual pleasure it delivers, is its ability to allow the owner to identify themselves with something that elevates their perceived social status and individual value in the minds of others. Therefore it is relativistic in nature and cannot exist alone as such, and therefore has little lasting intrinsic benefit beyond egoism.

It also requires a collective Societal belief in the ability to create and raise individual status and value (in relation to others) through attachment and association to objects and organisations. It is fair to call this a collective delusion that benefits very few.

It does not answers my question, I post it here, just to show how difficult it is, to think about luxury beyond individual self gratification.

On LuxurySociety, I got a very interesting answer from Benjamin Berghaus, a true eye opener for me:

From my point of view, there is much potential for social / community gain in the general concept of luxury production while I would doubt that individual examples for social activities today are carried out in completely unselfish, altruistic manner leaving public relations and marketing effects out of sight – for good economic reasons. Even though I’d be very happy to learn otherwise!

First and foremost, virtually all luxury brands with significant heritage developed out of individual, very high quality workshops employing craftsmen with considerable skills. Developing these skills with their workforce was the central competitive advantage of these producers allowing many to become suppliers to noblesse and beyond but also empowering their workforce, raising standards. For most product groups with most producers, this will not be feasible today anymore – of course, that always depends on the definition of the dimensions of the luxury market.

Second and third, from a socio-economical standpoint, luxury helped to foster two great advances in tandem (at least in the western world): democratization of societies and fueling the economic progress brought along by the industrialization. The democratization came to pass as luxury goods enabled (sufficiently rich) customers of lower standing to emulate the symbols of higher classes – the general model of the aspirational customer today. This emulation tended to be so popular that it did not only help society to overcome rigid class barriers but also, en passant, to fuel (by the standards of the time) mass production of high quality products that were of a certain value.

So you see that there are many more advantages that luxury consumptions brought to humankind (even though all of these points are somewhat contended, always depending your interpretation of history). Today, luxury production still has great potential for “doing good”. As Arnault said: Only in luxury, there are truly luxurious margins. With the stock market fights between the major players of the market within the past years and even today, it is quite safe to say that the financial vantage point of the managers are still prevalent. But: The changed market atmosphere, especially in Europe, might lead to new demand of “considerate consumption” that will lead to a more socially conscious identity as key to successful luxury brands.

My answer

I would add two things to Benjamins observation: innovation, and the safeguard of traditions.

Often innovation comes at a premium price, but with time and the advancement of technology it could benefit larger segments of society. For example, think of the technology that goes into electric cars. You still need to cash out quite a lot more for an electric car. The Nissan Leaf is a luxury Versa, but with time its technology will become mainstream and will benefit not just those that drive such a car, but everyone, because of less pollution.

When it comes to tradition, I’m thinking of crafts, that in the post-industrial economy are surviving because there are still people who are willing to pay extra for goods that are hand made, with tools and techniques unchanged. Protecting these crafts, means respecting our cultural heritage and avoiding the fall in oblivion of priceless knowledge.

Art?

I wonder can we put art in the same basket with luxury? In some cases, I think we certainly can. Paintings, buildings, operas and concertos were created at the order of affluent people. In order for art to strive, it needs the comfort of patronage, and thus becomes luxury, but in the same time, it benefits large dimensions of society.

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