the alienation of oppression...

The Alienation of Oppression is a 27” x 41” digital colour photograph shot in Richmond, British Columbia in January 2019 at the intersection of Gilbert and Lansdowne Roads. Far in the distance, the large Olympic Rings of the Richmond Olympic Oval can be seen at the far end of Lansdowne. This is an area that has seen a lot of change over the last ten years. Previously, the area consisted of light industrial and commercial buildings, as well as small chunks of forested areas that lined some of the banks of the Fraser River. Today, the Richmond Curling Centre is all that is left of that former period, and the building it occupies certainly stands out as being a relic in need of restoration. The old curling building is being swallowed up and surrounded by much newer and taller buildings, some completed and some still under construction. The large construction cranes loom in the distance, representative of the ubiquitous change that is occurring and a breakneck speed. A quieter and more rural time replaced by a fast-paced concrete jungle.

The Alienation of Oppression

The photograph was taken at dusk, during the golden hour just after the sun had set. The sky was dark and cloudy, and it began to rain heavily not long after this photograph was taken. The lights of the cars illuminated different things, especially the long shadows of some of the people crossing the street. I found it interesting that these people were each walking alone, and although they were all grouped together none of them were talking to each other, none of them seemed to know each other. The lights of the oncoming car that was waiting to turn caused the figures to be in a silhouette that further blurred elements of their individuality. The light of the golden hour also helped make the artificial street lighting stand out. The green and red traffic lights serve as a reminder of society’s control over the movement of individuals. The individuals are also walking towards the businesses that line the street, highlighted by the TD Canada Trust sign to their left. This, combined with the time of day, could suggest that humanity is at a turning point in its own hero’s journey, as they leave the light of the day for the darkness of the cave they are about to enter.  

On a definition of 'comedy'...

I want to know more about how to be funny. I want to scratch the surface of what defines comedy at its most basic level. And I hope to do that by summarizing and presenting different quotes and ideas from various books, interviews and online resources that I’ve recently come across while thinking about what comedy really is.

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Writing Funny!

I’ve signed on for a creative writing course at Kwantlen Polytechnic University on “Writing Funny!” that starts in January 2019, and I’m at best, both excited and terrified about it. I’ve always loved to laugh, joke around and overall in life, I generally try not to take things too seriously. As such, over the next few months, I hope to post a number of journal entries about my exploration of trying to write funny. With this first post, I want to briefly define the term “humour” and explore what humour from different forms of media have influenced myself over the years.

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a leading line...

From my art history studies at Kwantlen Polytechnic University, I’ve found it useful to break down my own artwork following a set of elements Dr. Dorothy Barenscott teaches her students to do, not only with the artworks they are studying, but with their own artwork as well, where, “…at the most basic and fundamental level art historians routinely study the intersection of three key elements of visual art: FORM, CONTENT, and CONTEXT” (Barenscott).

a leading line (1/5)

Formally, a leading line is an environmental earthwork art installation created on November 14, 2018, consisting of leaves that were arranged to lay flat on the surface of the side of the first flight of stairs, forming a straight line, approximately five to six inches wide, alongside the wall from the bottom of the first stairwell located in the newest part of the Fir Building, up to the top of it. The leaves in and of themselves served as the primary symbol of the artwork and were applied to the flat cement surface of the stairwell while they were still wet. While the leaves remained wet, they appeared as a flat, unified whole, as though they were painted directly onto the stairwell itself.

As the leaves dried, they lifted from the surface and the different rough textures of each individual leaves became apparent. The leaves remained installed in this location from Wednesday, November 14 until Tuesday, November 20 when they were most likely removed by the University’s cleaning staff. Many environmental earthwork art pieces are usually temporary and are not meant to last. To this end, had the piece been installed on an outdoor stairwell, and if it had rained during its placement their, the piece would have likely lasted longer as it would not have dried up as easily. The timing of when this specific project was made also helped as it was only possible to do this specific project when the leaves were falling from the trees. Had I attempted to create this project even a week later, there might not have been any leaves left to gather and use in a work like this.

Furthermore, the placement of the line was such that it didn’t necessarily stand out to those going up and down the stairwell, rather it was meant to exist within the periphery of their observation. The lighting of the stairwell, as dependant upon whether it was sunny or cloudy out, as well as on the time of day, helped to also play a role in how the leaves stood out to individuals walking up and down the stairwell. Bright, sunny daylight coming into the space from the windows of the stairwell seemed to help hide the installation, as the interior space became somewhat darker and the piece almost seemed backlit by the outside light. The effect of the daylight on the artwork cast the piece in a kind of silhouette – like how a subject being photographed can appear as a silhouette when the lighting behind a subject is too bright. When it got cloudy outside, or when it became nighttime, where the daylight coming into the space was replaced by the darkness, this allowed the line to stand out a lot more easily as it was illuminated by the artificial, fluorescent lighting of the building’s stairwell.

Traditionally, environmental earthwork art pieces are created in outdoor locations using natural materials (such as, but not limited to: rocks, stones, leaves, grasses, sand, dirt and clays) that are found nearby. With this piece however, I specifically chose an indoor location to serve as the place where the work would live, in order to facilitate my desire to bring the outside nature into an inside space, thereby softening and bringing life to that space. As such, since the piece is installed inside, this earthwork acts as an intervention of sorts for those who notice it – an installation that helps breakup the banal, cold, drab, mundane, and rather stale confines of the enclosed institutional concrete stairwell.

Finally, the colour of the piece was created by using the natural colours of the leaves collected from the ground, which had already changed colours from their original natural shades of green that they held during the spring and summer. The leaves had fallen from the trees that lined the small grassy area between east end of the Fir Building on the Surrey Campus of Kwantlen Polytechnic University and the campus’s parking lot, as seen outlined by the red rectangle in the following photograph:

kpu-map.jpg

The found leaves were various shades of browns, reds, dark maroons, and a few yellows. Had this project been done a few weeks earlier, I might have been able to utilize a wider range of colour. Nevertheless, I was able to create a slight gradation between the colours from light to dark and back again from dark to light was formed and provided a bit of variety in the movement of the piece overall as the line moved up each step.