Pressing My Buttons at the Emily Carr End-of-Year ShowSaturday, May 06, 2017
In my many years of rejecting any idea that I may be an artist I have at the very least gained an education in the arts thanks to an Argentine painter, Juan Manuel Sánchez who in his ten year stay in Vancouver taught me about art in his gentle way. If anything he might have persuaded me to think (sometimes) that I am an artist. The second contribution to my art education has been my daily delivered NY Times for 18 years and especially its Arts II section on Fridays which is all about the visual arts.
This past Thursday evening I attended the huge (and huge it is) end-of-year show at the Emily Carr University of Art + Design on Granville Island. This is the last show on the island before it moves into its huge building on Great Northern Way. The building as it stands now reminds me that it could be a 21st century version of Nicolae Ceaușescu’s gigantic Palace of the Parliament in Bucharest. The only building close to that, in our 20 the century Vancouver, may be our main post office on West Georgia.
Perhaps judging by the size of Thursday night’s opening is the fact that the present building may indeed be too small. But I have heard that classrooms and studios in the new building are not all that large. We shall have to see.
It may be that the university’s president Ron Burnett, a forward looking kind of a man knows where the future is headed.
As for me at age 74 I am beginning to repeat and think about my former friend Abraham Rogatnick (a lover and patron of the university) statement, “I am not long for this world.”
The show features lots of stuff that is interactive. One has to look into screens, listen and press buttons. This confirmed to me that my hard copy NY Times’ inability to contain hyperlinks is why I may not have suspected the trend in the arts as I saw at Emily Carr. That kind of art can only be understood and or appreciated in anything that may contain 1s and 0s.
My friend the effusively direct Ian Bateson (a former designer and illustrator of note [is design as we know dead?] ) talked to many third year students who instantly punched their cell phones to find out exactly who Shadbolt was. On the other hand I ran into on David Heffel and I was completely delighted at his smiles and his delight at what he was seeing. For that other gallery man, Andy Sylvester (through the years I have been introduced to him by the likes of Arthur Erickson, Abraham Rogatnick and others) I have always been an un-bandaged H.G. Well's man.
|Helen Yagi, David Heffel, Ona Grauer & Tiko Kerr|
Most important for those graduating design students looking for a job I can happily report here that I saw many of Vancouver's graphic design millieu, most of them with smiles on their faces. One of them was the noted designer Barry Marshall. He was wearing a colourful shirt with countless butterflies that he said was based on Shadbolt. Looking at the butterflies I thought of this:
“When we define the Photograph as a motionless image, this does not mean only that the figures it represents do not move; it means that they do not (i)emerge(i), do not (i)leave(i): they are anesthetized and fastened down, like butterflies.”
― Roland Barthes, Camera Lucida: Reflections on Photography
The show overwhelmed me in its size and I almost can say that I felt alienated by the quantity.
There is one little spot in the industrial design section (I did not do my homework so I did not pick up the artist’s name) that featured a table and bench of wood that had extremely heavy cast cement tops. They were made to look like an Ikea piece of furniture complete with an Ikea-like catalogue. I smiled and smiled. But I wonder if this was a dead serious display or a tongue-and-cheek.
I did know one of the artists and this was Glenda Bartosh whose display on the wall involved an elaborate explanation. And yet as I studied engineering in the early 60s and had a wonderful professor who taught us quantum mechanics, the theory of relativity with a sampling of particle physics I felt quite at home with this piece of art that was certainly not dead serious but a whimsical example of tongue-and-cheek.
All in all I believe that as I write this (Friday morning) I am beginning to have a good time looking back at yesterday’s evening and I must wish Ron Burnett, his staff and his students the best for next year.
As I gaze at my static photographs on the walls of my oficina I think of my friend Abraham Rogatnick.
For anybody who might be wondering how I made the photograph or Ron Burnet here it:
1.Portrait of Burnett in his office.
2. 8x10 print from my darkroom
3. I propped up the picture on a chair in my garden.
4. I placed one of my cameras, I believe a black Pentax MX on a tripod.
5. I opened the back and had the shutter open on bulb.
6. I focused on Barthes' book Camera Lucida
7. I coppied the setup with my Mamiya RB 67.